Lemony Broccoli Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette ♥

Lemony Broccoli Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, surprisingly substantial.
You know how some people say a salad can't fill you up, right? Well, for us, this "lemon on lemon" broccoli salad is surprisingly substantial. It starts with broccoli florets briefly cooked in salted water using the technique called "blanching" or "parcooking" and a lovely-lovely creamy lemon vinaigrette, two staples ever-so-useful on their own, not just in this particular combination.

Real Food, Fresh & Flexible. Extra-Perfect for Light Spring and Summer Meals. Little Effort, Big Taste. Easy Weeknight Salad Supper. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free.

Forget Cooking. Just Assemble.

While visiting my father earlier this month, one objective was to provide Olga, his companion since my mother died, a vacation from cooking and clean-up. Given the unseasonably warm temperatures and our light appetites, suppers were more about assembling salads than actual cooking.

This salad was a surprise hit, including for me, the cook. ;-) That first night, I added some leftover grilled meat to the salad plates and found the meal surprisingly substantial: we ALL skipped dessert that night.

Back home again, I've made it twice and am completely hooked on the simple combination of lemon on lemon. The broccoli tips soak up the lemon juice and the greens are dressed in a creamy lemon salad dressing. Yep. Double lemon!

To my taste, the salad is more than a sum of its parts.

How to "Blanch" Broccoli

Blanching is a special cooking technique that briefly cooks different foods, especially vegetables. Blanching is also called "parcooking" which means to cook a food partway. Blanching is a good choice when we want to take off a bit of the rawness but not fully cook them. Blanched vegetables keep their bright color and don't turn mushy from over cooking!

Blanching involves two steps on opposite ends of the temperature spectrum, boiling water for cooking and ice water to stop the cooking.

Step #1 Blanch in Boiling Water The purpose of blanching is to quickly cook (but not overcook) the broccoli just enough while retaining its firmness and bright green color. Here's how.

First bring water and salt to a boil. How much water? How much salt? It depends. You want enough water to cover the vegetables without crowding plus about an inch. So exactly how much will depend on the size of your pot and how much you're blanching. I like to allow a teaspoon of kosher salt per four cups of water.

While the water is coming to a boil, there's lots of time to cut up the broccoli into florets. I like to cut a few small florets to taste to test for doneness.

Once the water is boiling, drop the broccoli florets into the water all at once, do make sure they're all fully submerged. Let the water temperature return to a boil then reduce the heat a bit, you don't want the pot to boil over. Cook the florets until they reach the doneness you prefer, go ahead, taste every so often. (Once you've blanched vegetables a time or two, you'll be able to tell, just by looking.) Once the broccoli is done, drain the florets through a colander, discarding the cooking water.

Step #2 "Shock" in an "Ice Water Bath" The purpose of shocking is to stop the broccoli from cooking anymore, retaining the beautiful green color. Without the shock, the broccoli will continue to cook just from its own residual heat, possibly overcooking. Here's how to shock after blanching.

While you're waiting for the water to come to a boil, prepare the "ice water bath", that's just a fancy name for a bowl of very cold ice water. Be sure it's ready well before the broccoli goes into the boiling water. If possible, choose a bowl that the colander can fit into, that makes it extra easy to submerge (and then remove) the entire colander, broccoli and all, into the ice water bath. Consider putting the bowl into a sink, no reason to get water all over the place!

To prepare the ice water bath, fill the bowl at least halfway full with ice, then add cold water. (No ice? Just fill the bowl with the coldest water you can get.) After the blanched broccoli has been drained, put it into the ice water bath either directly or held by the colander. As soon as the broccoli cools down – maybe five or ten seconds – pull it out of the ice water and let it drain.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Is blanching the same as boiling? Not Really. Both techniques do involve boiling water (or some times another liquid) and often, though not always, salt or other seasonings. The difference between the two techniques is time. "Boiling" vegetables implies cooking for a longer timer, often, in the minds of many of us, over-cooking them. "Blanching" vegetables implies a short cooking time.

Blanching and shocking sure seems like a lot of trouble. Is there an easier cooking method? Maybe. I do think that Microwave Broccoli would work equally well.

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Lemony Broccoli Salad Made the List!
Best Vegetable Recipes of 2010

"... the lemon vinaigrette is fantastic and the whole combination was a nicely different-than-usual combination for us even though I actually had everything on hand. This is a keeper. Thanks!" ~ Tom & Kari
"Very tasty! I took it to a potluck and it was well-received ..." ~ Nancy

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Lemony Broccoli Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, surprisingly substantial.


Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4 (as part of the salad, 2 as a side dish)

Well-salted water to cover
1/2 pound broccoli crowns, trimmed and cut into florets
Ice water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cream
1/2 teaspoon good mustard such as Dijon
1/2 teaspoon sugar or to taste (don't skip)
Salt & pepper to taste

Lettuce greens, preferably a soft lettuce such as leafy green or leafy red
1 - 2 scallions, chopped
Alfalfa sprouts
Lemon Vinaigrette 1 ounce feta cheese (about one-inch square), crumbled
Cooked Lemony Broccoli

Grilled meat or fish or seafood
Sunflower seeds, provides nice texture contrast

BROCCOLI Bring the water to a boil. Drop in the broccoli florets and cook until fully cooked but still bright green. Drain the broccoli and quickly drop into the ice water to stop the cooking. Pull out the broccoli and let drain as long as possible, then drop into the lemon juice, broccoli tops first, the better to soak up the liquid. The broccoli could be / maybe even should be cooked at least a few minutes ahead of time to allow time to cool and soak or to have on hand for another salad another day!

LEMON VINAIGRETTE While the broccoli cooks, whisk together all the ingredients.

TO SERVE Toss the lettuce greens, scallions and alfalfa sprouts with the Lemon Vinaigrette. Arrange the greens on four plates, top with feta cheese and a few more alfalfa sprouts. Arrange the Lemony Broccoli and meat slices, if using, on the salad. Top with sunflower seeds if using. Serve and savor!

AL DENTE? Be sure that the broccoli is cooked enough to soak up the lemon juice. One batch, I cooked too al dente (that is, under-cooked) and it just didn't work.
GO BIG Don't hesitate to make extra vinaigrette, it keeps several days and is handy to have on hand. Recently, a big lemon yielded 8 tablespoons (a whole half cup!) so an 8x batch it was. Sour cream would substitute for cream, I think, maybe even non-fat Greek yogurt although there's some risk of the vinaigrette separating, likely fixed with a quick shake or stir.
SUGAR Don't skip the sugar in the vinaigrette, it really draws out the lemon flavor.
ASPARAGUS? SORRY, NO I tried an asparagus version with this same concept but the spears just can't absorb the lemon flavor as well as the broccoli tops.

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Still Hungry?

Love Broccoli? More Favorite Salads with Broccoli

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A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. This looks lovely! I have always loved the lemon & broccoli combination and this takes it to a new level. I think it might appeal to the broccoli-haters too! I will definately try it - love the low ww points.

  2. Alanna,
    My husband and I love broccoli with lemon. However, we have learned to add the lemon at serving because the lemon in with the broccoli while cooking turns the broccoli the most disgustingly shade of grey-green. How did you get around that? Is it the adding of the sugar that lets it stay green? Help!
    Huggs, Cait

  3. Well, duh!
    I guess I should have read on to the method first. You are not cooking the broccoli WITH the lemon!
    Well, at least now you and everyone else will know not cook broccoli WITH lemon. Thanks for the method and I will try this, how good can this pairing be!

  4. I have never had broccoli with lemon but your comments on making it several times in such a short period of time told me there was something more to this than one would suspect. There is, the lemon vinaigrette is fantastic and the whole combination was a nicely different than usual combination for us even though I actually had everything on hand. This is a keeper. Thanks!

  5. Kristen K ~ Wouldn't be something if lemon could convert the broccoli haters?!

    Cait ~ Yep, you nailed it, the broccoli is cooked well first, then the tops are dunked into the lemon juice.

    Tom & Kari ~ Aii, I do so love it when a recipe is so simple but inspiring that you want to and can make it NOW. So glad you've found a keeper!!

  6. You always do this to me ... I should have thought of this so long ago!!

  7. Very tasty! I took it to a potluck and it was well-received, although my broccoli turned brown. Any clues why?I did immerse it in ice water and let it drain before adding it to the lemon juice.
    I did make some substitutions. Chives from my garden for the green onions, honey for the sugar, sunflower shoots for the alfalafa sprouts (they were gorgeous at the Co-op and I couldn't pass them up), coconut milk for the cream, goat cheese for the feta. Okay, I guess that's a lot of subs, but hey, isn't that the fun of cooking!? Thanks, Nancy

  8. It sounds as though your dad and his love got a wonderful, healthy treat. What a great way to dress up broccoli!

  9. AnonymousMay 22, 2010

    I love the idea of mixing broccoli with a lemon flavor. I always just steam broccoli and eat it plain, so it's good to see other ways of trying it out. Otherwise I get tired of always eating the same things. (Although plain steamed broccoli is delicious!)


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna