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A raw broccoli dish has changed my life. Broccoli ceviche, if you will.

OK, *maybe* I am just being a bit dramatic but a broccoli recipe I tried this weekend has changed my thoughts on raw vegetables. I was thumbing through Melissa Clark's "In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite" and came across her recipe for a marinated raw broccoli salad, in which the acid essentially "cooks" the broccoli, much like ceviche, softening it and turning it a brilliant green color.

You toss raw broccoli florets with some salt and red wine vinegar. Then warm up some olive oil in a pan, toss in minced garlic, cumin seeds, a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook only for a minute or so. Take off the heat, add a little sesame oil, then pour the whole lot over the broccoli. Stir it up and in an hour you have a delicious salad. Every day it sits in the fridge it gets a little sharper and tangier.

The flavor combinations are endless, I am already thinking of what spices will go in my next batch. I have always been a big broccoli fan, however I have a feeling I will be making this often for a quick side dish stored in the fridge, a snack, or a main meal if you throw in a little protein (cooked shrimp or chicken would be great).

This recipe first appeared in her NY Times column a few years ago, and was named "Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad":


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  1. Wow, that sounds great! I am extremely fond of raw kale salad so this is right up my alley. I love that you can do them ahead and eat them for a couple of days.

    1. Thanks mels. I just bookmarked that recipe... it Does sound delicious.

      1. This is a terrific way to prepare broccoli. It's especially good for potlucks or buffets where it won't get soggy.

        1. I love broccoli salads, and this sounds fantastic! Thanks, mels. Will try it soon.

          1 Reply
          1. re: peppergal

            This sounds like a very nice recipe. Something different in a salad and brocolli! I can't wait to make it!

          2. I'm so glad you reported on this recipe. I saved it when I first read it, but never got around to trying it. Now you've convinced me it's worth it. Thanks for the report.

              1. So funny, I used to make this in the 70s when a friend's mother gave me the recipe BUT it was just cut up broccoli with any kind of bottled Italian dressing poured over. This sounds SO much better. It's cool how the broccoli gets so green and cheerful looking.

                1. I made this for dinner tonight based on your post and it was great. I only used 1/4 cup oil but all the other ingredients as posted and let it sit for 5 hours. So good. Thank you.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: waver

                    Glad you liked it! I cut the oil down to 1/2 cup with seemingly no ill effect. I'll try it at the 1/4 cup level next time based on your experience. I don't really want to blow through olive oil at such a rapid pace using the 3/4 c. that is called for. It's healthy fat but still a lot of calories!

                  2. mels, made it; loved it and enjoyed it as is side dish and as a hot dish with leftover pasta and leftover jasmine rice. hot or cold-def. winner.

                    1. I normally do NOT (with emphasis) like raw broccoli, but this really sounded tempting. I happened to have about a pound of broccoli in the fridge, so I made half the recipe this morning, for just my husband and me. It does make a lot, but it's so yummy that every time I open the fridge I snitch a piece of garlicky broccoli. I planned to serve it for dinner this evening, but there may not be any left by then! Thanks, mels, for posting this.

                      1. I made this yesterday for a potluck with a bunch of chowfriends. It was delicious, and a nice fresh contrast to the rest of the rich Mardi Gras dishes.

                        Thanks for posting and bringing it to my attention!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: TorontoJo

                          Certainly makes raw broccoli taste better that it tastes without the salt & spice. I think I'll be trying something like this with raw cauliflower next.

                          1. re: prima

                            Yeah, I think I'm going to try a different spice profile and see if DH likes it better.

                            I'm not a big fan of raw broccoli, and the fact that I got a blanched texture without having to actually blanch the broccoli was kind of handy.

                            1. re: TorontoJo

                              just tried this -- replaced the cumin with some crushed fennel seeds and skipped the sesame oil.

                              now i have to make some more...

                        2. Further to my comment a couple of days ago about how much I was enjoying broccoli prepared this way, now I have to post a minor retraction. It turns out that HE has told me he can't eat raw broccoli in any way, shape or form. Period. It was just too much for me to finish by myself, so I'm going to try steaming the rest and serving it as a hot veggie.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Cilantra

                            Cilantra, I stir fried the leftover with rice one day and cooked pasta another. There was enough marinade on the broccoli to toss as is w/out the need for add'l oil in the pan. Delicious.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              Now I'm getting hungry! I especially like the pasta idea. Maybe I'll try that this evening. With some kalamata olives and grape tomatoes?

                          2. Haven't made it in a couple years. Thanks for reminding me.


                            1. Thank you mels !!! This was fantastic. I followed the recipe exactly except I reduced the amount of olive oil to 1/2 cup. After I made this I couldn't stay away from the fridge. Any recipe that can make me crave broccoli is a keeper!

                              1. being a lover of raw vegetables, it's not unusual for me to start by pulling off the florettes add a tiny bit of sea salt and heaven.

                                this sounds very good

                                1. Hmmm. Maybe I'm missing something here (or maybe, as it tends to be with high expectations, it couldn't live up to the hype here), but I was incredibly underwhelmed by the salad. A life changing experience it was not. It didn't even change my relationship with broccoli.

                                  Now, I'm no broccoli lover to begin with, but I know it's good for me yadda yadda yadda, and figured this must be the shizzle -- given the rave reviews.

                                  I don't know what I was expecting, but this left me cold. Maybe it's gotten better overnight (we have enough leftover for tonight's dinner, unfortunately), but I felt like it would be better blanched, and with more aromatics added.

                                  This was just garlicky raw broccoli. Don't get it.

                                  25 Replies
                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    I liked it the first time around, but I think it got a little better overnight, and might benefit from a fresh splash of vinegar or lemon juice, after it's been cured, to make it into more of a salad. But, yep, it's still a raw broccoli salad. ;-)

                                    1. re: prima

                                      ...and, actually enjoying the flavor and texture of broccoli HELPS :)

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          ha! Do you like broccoli better when it's cooked? I prefer it raw but I love the stuff.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            I like it, but it's definitely not in my top 5 for veggies. I do prefer it "cooked", even if that just means steamed, blanched, or in a quick stir-fry.

                                      1. re: prima

                                        You can't just make it and serve it, it does have to sit for a good while.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          It sat for 1.5 hours. I'll see what it's like tonight, chopped up smaller and tossed with pasta. And soy sauce & butter added. There's lots of room for improvement '-)

                                          1. re: linguafood

                                            I think I usually made it before noon to serve with dinner. But too long and it gets dull colored. And keep in mind, I've only made this years ago using bottled dressing, I've yet to try this new version.

                                      2. re: linguafood

                                        In an academic sense, it's not much different from quick-pickled broccoli. If it still tasted very raw to you, like it could use blanching, I suspect you should let it sit in the 'dressing' for a while longer (also, some broccoli has thicker, tougher skin than other broccoli - could be a factor). Course, that doesn't mean you're necessarily going to like the dish, but if the broccoli isn't just a little 'cooked' by the vinegar, you probably haven't tried it as it should ideally be eaten.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          I followed the recipe to a T, and thought that 1.5 tsps of red wine vinegar didn't seem a helluvalot for so much broccoli, either.

                                          I'd think you'd need more vinegar to 'cook' it.

                                          1. re: linguafood

                                            That was my feeling too. More vinegar! Oh, and I did try steaming the remaining broccoli, and then I tossed it with kalamata olives and diced small tomatoes, plus a generous handful of walnut pieces. I ate it for lunch, and it was pretty good, but I'm not sure if I'd bother making it again.

                                            1. re: Cilantra

                                              When I did the stir fry I didn't steam the broccoli beforehand. Was there a reason you did?

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                I steamed it because I really needed cooked broccoli instead of raw, and there was no further cooking involved; what I made was a salad. If I were making it into a stir-fry, I wouldn't bother steaming the broccoli first

                                            2. re: linguafood

                                              Longer time would also do the trick. Pickling is a function of acid strength AND time. Even the shape of your bowl matters - if the broccoli is spread out and drying, it's not going to pickle easily. If it's in a more narrow container and largely submerged in a liquid that has even a scant 1.5 tsp vinegar in it, given time it will pickle. You notice the OP mentioning that it gets sharper and better each day that passes - that's mainly the acid working.

                                              More vinegar might well be an improvement though.

                                              I don't doubt that you followed the recipe, btw. I'm just suggesting what I think would address some of your problems with it. If it sat for a day or two, you might find it sharper, tastier, more 'cooked,' and more to your liking.

                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                Well, I'm about an hour away from finding out '-)

                                              2. re: linguafood

                                                I took the 1.5 tsps to be a tryping error and used a couple of tablespoons for florets from a 12 ounce head. Great results.

                                                1. re: Robin Joy

                                                  That might be a good solution. A lot more vinegar, and a lot less broccoli. Maybe I'll give it another try. The recipe calls for two pounds of broccoli, so you really cut that back. And when other people talk about the broccoli "marinating," I'm thinking, "I really don't have anything here for the broccoli to marinate in." The mixture just barely coated the broccoli -- no marinade to speak of.

                                                  1. re: Cilantra

                                                    Yep, my experience exactly.

                                                    Bummer nobody noticed that typo given the recipe's been out there for so long.

                                                    In any event -- tried it again before tossing it with linguini fini, baby bellas, orange peppers, soy sauce, chiles & butter.... still pretty meh.

                                                    It did work well in the stir-fry, but as someone mentioned down thread -- not much of a raw broc salad anymore at that point.

                                            3. re: linguafood

                                              And if it makes you feel any better, my DH declared that it "tastes like feet smell". So clearly I'm not including this in my home cooking rotation. :)

                                              I did just take my leftover salad and sauteed the broccoli with some leftover roast chicken and tossed it with some penne lisce and added a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It made for a nice pasta lunch today.

                                              1. re: TorontoJo

                                                I forgot that I was going to try the pasta thingy -- maybe with pasta and chicken plus lemon it would be pretty good. But we've pretty much negated the concept of a raw broccoli salad, haven't we?

                                                1. re: TorontoJo

                                                  The "tastes like feet smell" comment has me snickering. Those who don't like the taste of cumin tend to be vocal about its odor!

                                                  I am going to try the fennel/garlic/red pepper flake combo next time I make it. After eating it all last week, I decided I will keep the reduced amount of oil but punch up the acidity just a bit, as I preferred the tang that the broccoli developed after several days

                                                2. re: linguafood

                                                  I feel the same. Very disappointed. Maybe I did somethings wrong but I don't think so. I tasted it after it marinated about an hour. Meh. Maybe after a night in the fridge it will improve. I was excited about it but just didn't do anything for me at this point.

                                                3. This is perfect. I was looking for something different than my usual roasted broccoli. I'll report back when we have it for dinner!

                                                  1. A few minutes ago I found out I'll be running my friend's cutting horse ranch for the next week or so and was trying to figure out dishes I can make here at home and eat while I'm there. I'm printing out the recipe since this sounds exactly like the sort of dish I'll need in the fridge. Thank you!

                                                    edited to add that I threw in some sliced almonds. Can't wait to try it!

                                                    1. Made this and I can't stop picking at it. It is so delish! I love pickled anything, though.

                                                      1. Made this yesterday w some alterations. Reduced the evoo to 1/3 c, increased the red vinegar to 1/4 c and added crushed peanuts on top. OMG, I can't wait to eat it for lunch. Will have to avoid coworkers after lunch though b/c its a pretty garlicky dish.

                                                        1. i initially made this using about a pound of trimmed broccoli crowns and 1/4 cup of olive oil, subbing crushed fennel seeds for the cumin and skipping the sesame oil and got to thinking about other variations.

                                                          i tried cider vinegar, then grated some fresh ginger, which turned out great.

                                                          today, i tried subbing lemon juice for the vinegar, then added grated lemon zest -- possibility the best of all.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: wonderwoman

                                                            Thanks so much for your post, wonderwoman, and for jogging my memory on this dish, which I planned to try when it was first posted by mels back in February! Maybe you know how that goes.... Anyway, it still sounds wonderful, and I *still* plan to try it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention again. I love broccoli, and I need more veggies these days....

                                                            1. re: peppergal

                                                              and don't forget the garlic -- definitely kept that from the original!

                                                            2. re: wonderwoman

                                                              So what was your best combination? Did you use the lemon juice and zest with fennel or ginger or both? I fell in love with this salad and made it so many times we kind of got tired of it. I kept thinking I needed to try different variations. I need some new ideas for broccoli. Thanks!

                                                              1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                the revised basic recipe: 1 pound broccoli crowns trimmed and cut into stalks. 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 oil, 3 cloves garlic minced, pinch crush red pepper flakes (to taste).

                                                                variation 1: 1 teaspoon fennel seeds crushed, heated with oil, garlic and red pepper flakes

                                                                variation 2: substitute cider or orange muscat vinegar. after pouring oil over broccoli, grate fresh ginger.

                                                                variation 3: substitute lemon juice for vinegar. after pouring oil over broccoli, grate lemon zest.

                                                                1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                  just tried this with cauliflower and lemon juice, crushed red pepper (was in a real rush, subbed garlic powder for minced garlic) and it was great. the cauliflower hold up really well. and a broccoli/cauliflower combo would look so pretty.

                                                              2. I make this all the time for bbqs. I double the garlic and use 1/3 of the oil. People rave about it and it always gets eaten. You can add strips of red pepper or add dried cranberries to change it up occasionally. :)

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: ldkelley

                                                                  I tried adding a few quartered radishes. Not a success. Everything went a watery pink except the radishes which went all white, and the hoped for flavour zap wasn't there.