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At the risk of making a sweeping generalisation, I’ll say all vegetables can be eaten either raw or cooked, that’s assuming potatoes are not vegetables but – potatoes. Of the more unusual varieties I’ve recently had thinly sliced raw runner beans and I concluded that was the way to eat them. Similarly fennel – I quite like it cooked but it’s not a patch on thinly sliced raw fennel in an orange and raisin salad.
What you would think was inedible raw mostly defies the assumption. I know raw brussels sprouts fans though one needs to stay out of the breathing distance from them; sprouts stink almightily. Raw or riced cauliflower has become boringly familiar already. Peas are gorgeous, especially the tiny new ones popping out of fresh pods. Celeriac can be grated into rémoulade. I’ll strategically ignore turnips, simply because I’ve not come up YET with a raw concept for them; and gourds, squashes and pumpkins – they are fruit, and anyway the seeds can be eaten raw.
On the other end of the spectrum you wouldn’t think to cook radishes but they can be easily and deliciously braised. Cucumbers – certainly, halve them lengthwise and scorch them in a skillet. Lettuce can be shredded into stir fries instead of more oriental greens and so can rocket, for a sharp taste.
Broccoli has come a long way since being served to twelve year old me in the shape of whole boiled head, tasteless and mushy. Broccoli fritters, anyone? Broccoli pasta, soups, casseroles, roasted and grilled; purple, sprouting and tenderstem; I’m only waiting for the first broccoli cake to spring up. Salads are ten a penny, florets paired with almonds, bacon or cheese. All very nice – but this is better. NY Times Cooking say it’s broccoli crack and they’re not half kidding. All I can say – do it. Just double the ingredients.
- 1½ tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 broccoli heads cut into florets; biggest florets halved
- 80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves chopped coarsely
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1. Wash and cut the broccoli; make sure all the florets are bite-sized. Mix the salt with both vinegars in a large bowl, add the broccoli and toss to coat.
2. Grind the Sichuan peppercorns and the pepper flakes in a mortar and pestle. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the fennel seeds and garlic and cook very gently for a few minutes; mash the garlic roughly with a fork when soft. Take the skillet off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and the ground peppers. Pour the oil over the broccoli and toss very well.
3. Let the salad sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving; if kept longer than two hours or overnight, chill it in the fridge and bring back to room temperature before eating.