Melissa Clark is one of the food writers that I just trust. I have been cooking her recipes for years, and they are always excellent. She co-wrote many of my favorite cookbooks including the The Last Course with Claudia Fleming, which remains one of my all-time favorite books. Her new book, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite (named after her excellent column in the New York Times) is as appealing, fresh and wonderful to read as you might imagine. Clark really excels at recipes that are both familiar and somehow special. These are the recipes that I find myself wanting to cook, and the book is full of them.
I was immediately drawn to her Garlicky-Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad recipe, which just sounds delicious. Some fresh broccoli from the market is chopped up and allowed to sit in a dressing of sorts: toasted sesame oil, vinegar, and some pepper come together to create a really exceptional side dish. Something that even those of you dubious about broccoli will love (Bryan enjoyed it!). This is a perfect side dish but I imagine some of you will run with it and turn this into an entree. Add some rice? Maybe some other vegetables? Whatever you do, try it.
Garlicky-Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad (adapted very slightly from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetiteby Melissa Clark)
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 heads broccoli, 1 pound each, cut into bite-size florets
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 fat garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons roasted (Asian) sesame oil
- Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- Black sesame seeds (to taste, I added a couple of tablespoons)
In a large bowl, stir together the vinegar and salt. Add the broccoli and toss to combine.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Pour the mixture over the broccoli and toss well. Let sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or chilled, up to 48 hours (chill it if you want to keep it for more than 2 hours). Adjust the seasonings (it may need more salt), add the black sesame seeds and serve.