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America's Test Kitchen: Broccoli Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing (Ep 2226)

Broccoli Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing



WHY THIS WORKS: The combination of crisp broccoli, dried fruit, nuts, and creamy dressing is a picnic-salad staple, but the sweetened mayonnaise dressing tends to overwhelm the dynamic flavors and textures of the other components. We made a lush but light dressing by replacing the mayonnaise with avocado and olive oil, buzzing them in a food processor with garlic and lemon so that the flavor was clean, bright, and savory. We also added shallot and tarragon to the salad to balance out the sweet tang and rich toasty flavors of the dried fruit and nuts, respectively. Blanching and shocking the broccoli softened its raw edge, seasoned it, and brightened up its color. To ensure that the florets and stems cooked evenly, we layered them strategically in the saucepan: denser stems on the bottom, where they were submerged in water, and florets on top, where they steamed gently.


1¼    teaspoons table salt, divided

1½ pounds broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced ¼ inch thick

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into ½ -inch pieces

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1     teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons juice

1     garlic clove, minced

¼    teaspoon pepper

½    cup dried cranberries

½    cup sliced almonds, toasted

1     shallot, sliced thin

1      tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

1. Bring 1 cup water and ½ teaspoon salt to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Add broccoli stalks, then place florets on top of stalks so that they sit just above water. Cover and cook until broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, fill large bowl halfway with ice and water. Drain broccoli well, transfer to ice water, and let sit until just cool, about 2 minutes. Transfer broccoli to triple layer of paper towels and dry well. Dry bowl and set aside.

2. Process avocado, oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, and pepper in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Toss broccoli, dressing, cranberries, almonds, shallot, and tarragon in now- empty large bowl until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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Photo Credit: America’s Test Kitchen