My current favorite vegetable to grow through the winter months is broccoli. I did not grow up with it in Lebanon and did not care for it when I first moved to the United States. However, I have flipped my negative vote to a resounding “yes” since I’ve started growing it myself. Not only is broccoli easy to grow, but it is an extraordinary green substitute in a salad.
This king of winter vegetables tolerates light freezes and thrives in cold temperatures. Since my beds are raised stone beds, they store the absorbed daytime warm sunshine and serve as a natural greenhouse through the colder nights, even when the nighttime temperatures dip slightly below freezing. Nevertheless, tender baby broccoli plants need some protective cover on the off-chance of an early hard freeze.
Another advantage to growing broccoli is that it produces two harvests: one large central head and several smaller sprouts after the first large bloom is sliced off down to its base. If you’ve never tasted homegrown broccoli, you’ll be shocked at its crispy sweetness compared to the gaseous, tougher bitterness of its store-bought counterpart.
I like to use tender, sweet homegrown broccoli as the main green ingredient in a salad. The following is a favorite, make-ahead salad that is a great side dish, especially suitable for taking to a pot luck dinner.
Toss the first six ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the dressing components. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture. Toss together making sure all the salad pieces are evenly coated.
What lettuce alternatives can you use in your favorite salads?
3 cups bite-size broccoli florets, including thinly sliced tender stalks
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup crisp crumbled bacon
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup shredded cheese
3/4 cup plain full-fat yogurt
1 T sugar
1 T red-wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste