Broccoli and Sweet Sesame Salad
March into April is always a rough period for me in the kitchen. Inspiration is hard to come by, and every cold/wet/gray day that passes adds to my frustration at how slow full-blown spring is to arrive. I stare despondently at my crisper drawer, trying to ignore the root vegetables that have been in there forever and are starting to look long in the tooth.
The Ithaca Farmer’s Market begins its season in April, but with this year’s loooooooooong winter and seemingly endless spring rains, we’re only just starting to see some greens. Peas, strawberries, and asparagus still seem like a long way away to me, even though I know I’ll see them in another month or so.
And even though it’s been rain central around here, the slightly warmer temperatures and occasional peek of sun (how I live for those moments!) has kick-started my craving for things that are crisp, green, and fresh. In other words, if I see another bowl of stew I think I’ll lose it.
So when Dana tweeted about a recipe for a Broccoli and Sweet Sesame Salad she recently posted, I made sure my next trip to the grocery store included the snap peas and broccoli to make it (I love you local produce, but I just can’t hold out any longer.) Luckily for me at our market this past weekend, I was able to find some lovely spinach at Stick and Stone Farm, as well as some French Breakfast Radishes from Red Tail Farm. Along with some eggs from our meat share, I knew I had the makings of exactly the kind of lunch I was craving.
This salad comes together in a snap, and the tahini/sesame dressing is so good I plan to keep it on hand to dress other salads this spring and summer. Dana adapted the recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, which looks like a gorgeous book full of the kinds of food I want to fill myself up with right now. I’m sure the salad is knockout in its original form (with broccoli, snap peas, string beans, and dressing) but I really enjoyed it dressed up with some sliced finger-thin radishes and chopped hard-boiled egg.
Broccoli and Sweet Sesame Salad
Adapted from Dana Treat, who adapted it from Plenty
1 pound broccoli, cut into small florets
½ pound snap peas, strings removed
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
3 tbsp. sesame seeds (I, like Dana, used gomasio)
accompaniments like torn spinach leaves, chopped hard-boiled egg, sliced radishes
4 tbsp. tahini paste
¼ cup water
1 small garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp. tamari
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. mirin
2 tbsp. hazelnut or other nut oil [note: I used peanut oil]
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. You’re looking for a smooth, thick, pourable consistency — add more water if needed (I had to add a little to make it pourable.) Taste and add salt and pepper according to your taste. Set aside and refrigerate as you assemble the salad.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the broccoli and snap peas for 2-3 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water, or shock in a bath of ice water to stop the cooking. Pat dry with towels.
Divide the spinach among serving plates, and top with the broccoli and snap peas. Sprinkle with the cilantro and gomasio/sesame seeds (and chopped egg and radishes, if using.) Drizzle with the dressing and serve. You may have more dressing than needed, so just refrigerate any leftovers.