Whenever I get an opportunity to bring a dish to a casual gathering (such as a Labor Day picnic), I choose the salad. Or, to be more precise, the salad chooses me.
Invariably the host or hostess says, please bring that strawberry salad you do, or that creamy macaroni salad, or that potato vegetable salad, or that pea and smoked almond salad, or that marinated mushroom salad, or that Chinese noodle salad, or that salad with the tropical vinaigrette, and so forth. The list goes on and on. A girl just can’t have too many salads in her culinary repertoire, now can she?
I created a version of this salad for Cooking Light magazine many moons ago. I remember being so relieved to have salads to work on for awhile, as the editors too often threw me the dessert assignments. Trying to craft hundreds of memorable and satisfying desserts (over a few years), each with such a low calorie ceiling was making me crazy.
This salad has so much color, flavor, and textural contrast, no one will ever notice it is actually low in calories. It’s an explosion on the palate. Perfect for the last official picnic of the summer.
Spanish Broccoli and Prawn Salad
This is a gorgeous, buffet-style salad, suitable for family picnics and other large gatherings. It also makes a colorful addition to a Spanish-style tapas buffet.
INGREDIENT NOTE The prawns really put this salad over the top, flavor-wise, but it is also excellent without them, if you have a need for an all-vegetable salad.
3 pounds broccoli flowerets, trimmed
1½ pounds medium-size prawns, cooked
½ cup Calamata olives, pitted and quartered lengthwise
½ cup diced red onion
½ cup diced yellow bell pepper
½ cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup minced dill pickle
¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
- Bring a large pot of water to a full boil and add the broccoli. Simmer for only a minute or two, tasting periodically to obtain crisp-tender, vivid green broccoli. (The water may not return to the boil before the broccoli is done. That’s fine.)
- Immediately drain the broccoli in a large colander and refresh under cold running water until cool. Drain well and pat dry carefully with paper towels.
- Combine the broccoli, prawns, olives, red onion, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper, dill pickle, green onion, and garlic in a large mixing bowl.
- Toss gently with 2 tablespoons olive oil, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste in a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Keep cool until ready to use.
- Just before serving the salad, toss it carefully with the dressing and season to taste with additional salt and pepper as necessary.
- Arrange on a large platter, and serve immediately.
Makes 5 quarts; Serves a crowd.
NOTE The salad cannot be dressed in advance because the broccoli darkens with prolonged contact with the acid in the dressing.