‘At this time of year, one can be forgiven for growing weary of parsnips, turnips and other root vegetables. Purple-sprouting broccoli is, however, still in full swing. For me, it tastes lighter and fresher than other winter vegetables and, dare I say it, has a spring in its step. Lucas excels at making unfussy food taste good, and this simple recipe gives winter broccoli the Caesar treatment. It makes a great lunch dish or starter, and can be thrown together without any fuss’
Purple-sprouting Caesar salad
Extract from Lucas Hollweg’s Good Things to Eat
Published by Collins
Sprouting broccoli has a sprightly freshness that so many winter vegetables lack, and I sometimes treat it like asparagus, dipping it into a puddle of hollandaise. This salad, though, plays on its affinity with anchovy and garlic flavours that feature in Caesar dressing and happen to work particularly well with broccoli, sprouting or otherwise.
500g (1lb 2oz) purple-sprouting broccoli, trimmed
6 canned anchovy fillets in oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Zest of half a lemon, plus 2tbsp juice
Salt and black pepper
200ml (7fl oz) mild olive or groundnut oil, plus extra for frying
A big handful of grated Parmesan, plus a few flakes for scattering
2-4 slices of white bread, crusts removed
Separate the broccoli heads from the thickest part of the stalks, and slice the stalks lengthways into halves or quarters to help them cook through.
Bring a big pan of salted water to the boil and add the broccoli stalks. Simmer for 3 minutes, then throw in the heads and cook for another 4-5 minutes or until soft but not disinte-grating. Drain in a colander or sieve and run under a cold tap for 30 seconds to stop them cooking. Give them a shake and leave to drain thoroughly.
Mash the anchovies to a paste with the garlic (I usually do this by roughly chopping them, then smearing everything together on the board using the flat side of a kitchen knife). Whisk the paste with the egg yolks, mustard and lemon juice, adding a grind or two of black pepper. Next, whisk in the oil, drop by drop at first, until things start to thicken, then in a slow stream. You want to end up with something the consistency of thin mayonnaise. Beat in the grated Parmesan.
Cut the bread into small cubes. Heat a couple of splashes of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the croutons until golden brown on all sides.
Toss the broccoli with half the dressing. Arrange on a plate and scatter the croutons over the top. Splash with more dressing (you may not need all of it), then sprinkle with some of the grated lemon zest and a handful of shaved Parmesan. Add a good grind of black pepper and dig in.
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