Broccoli Salad may be old news to many of you, especially in North America, but it’s pretty new to me! Last year, my friend brought her broccoli salad to Thanksgiving dinner and I was blown away by this fresh, crunchy, creamy, sweet and savory dish. Apparently, it’s a common holiday side dish in my country of Canada but some how I had never heard of it. Mind you, I grew up having never eaten broccoli raw as green vegetables are rarely eaten raw in the Chinese cuisine. Since that holiday dinner, I found out the salad is one of my boyfriend’s favourite dishes and I happily recreated it for him and customized the recipe to our tastes. Click here for the printable recipe.
Video Tutorial for Vegan Broccoli Salad
Broccoli salad starts with a creamy dressing of mayonnaise and vinegar much like coleslaw. Luckily, vegan mayo isn’t hard to come by. I love both Vegenaise by Earth Island/Follow Your Heart and Just Mayo by Hampton Creek. If you can’t find these in your local shops, it’s pretty easy to make your own! I love the Classic Mayo recipe in Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry. For a low-fat option, sometimes I just use silken tofu with a pinch of black salt (kala namak). I usually choose the full-fat version when I’m making this for my boyfriend but if it’s an everyday kind of lunch, I’ll choose the low-fat version so I can “spend” my fat intake on other foods. You can make the dressing more thick and creamy by using more vegan mayo/silken tofu or lighter and more tangy with more vinegar or lemon juice, or a combination of the two.
Common mix-ins include red onion, raisins or cranberries, and nuts or seeds. Since that Thanksgiving meal, I’ve tried it many ways according to what I had on hand. Cranberries are my favourite because they add a lovely color along with those red onions. I like using walnuts because of their distinct aroma but almonds are my favourite because of how they absorb the dressing and develop this crunchy yet meaty texture. While many non-vegan recipes for broccoli salad or slaw include bacon as a common ingredient, I don’t feel any extra salty fatty ingredient is necessary to make this salad complete. You could try coconut bacon or mushroom bacon though I haven’t tried it in this salad myself.
After combining the dressing with your choice of veggies and mix-ins, chill it in the fridge overnight for best results. This way, all the flavours get a chance to mingle. The hardy texture of broccoli stands up well and can be enjoyed up 3 to 5 days after you make this salad. I think it only gets better with time!
Full disclosure: Broccoli has been one of my favourite vegetables since childhood but I only ever had them cooked. Since discovering that they actually taste great when raw, I’ve become even more obsessed. If you hate broccoli, you will not feel the same way about this salad. I admit my broccoli-loving bias.
Printable Recipe for Vegan Broccoli Salad
- 1 head of broccoli (450g)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins (50g)
- 1/3 cup walnuts or almonds, raw or roasted (40g)
- 3 tablespoons chopped red onion (25g)
- 4 - 6 pitted dates or sweetener of choice*
- 1/4 cup vegan mayo**(60ml)
- 3 tablespoons vinegar/lemon juice of choice or to taste (45ml)
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt (4cc)
- For the dressing, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth using your regular blender or immersion blender. Taste and adjust to your preference.
- Separate the washed and dried broccoli florets into bit sized pieces. If using the broccoli stems, cut into matchsticks or grate them. Mix the broccoli, cranberries or raisins, nuts or seeds, and red onion with your dressing. Taste and adjust for salt.
- For best results, cover and chill overnight so the flavours can mingle and develop. Serve chilled and enjoy! You may store this salad for 3 to 5 days.
- *Dates vary greatly in sweetness so use as many as you like. Alternatively, you may use any sweetener you prefer including maple syrup, agave, or sugar.
- **For a low fat option, choose firm or extra firm silken tofu with a pinch of kala namak (black salt) for a hint of egg-like sulfury flavour and blend very well. I repeat: blend VERY WELL.
- For digestive systems that are not well suited to raw broccoli, feel free to lightly steam the broccoli to bring out the bright color and make it easier to digest. Chill the broccoli thoroughly before assembling your salad.