Raw broccoli? Thanks to a dear friend who introduced me to it at a potluck get-together lunch. I had never eaten it raw before, and I could not quite believe it could taste as good as it did.(I think her version even had raw cauliflower florets too)
The zingy-cum-creamy dressing in the original version was a mayonnaise base, with a white vinegar and sugar. A few tweaks later, and here is my firm favourite. The delicious dressing is free from harmful fats, and the broccoli?? The raw broccoli has more calcium ounce for ounce than milk, plenty of other minerals (iron, zinc, potassiuum, manganese) more vitamin C than the average citrus fruit, and potent anti-carcinogens called Isothiocyanates (who would wish to boil an anti-carcinogen to death?)
Also, by shredding the broccoli into small pieces, you break down the cells and activate an enzyme called myrosinase. The myrosinase converts some of the sulfur-containing chemicals found in broccoli (called glucosinolates) into other sulfur containing chemicals (called isothiocyanates) which research has shown to contain cancer preventive properties not found in the glucosinolates . Studies have actually pinpointed specific mechanisms, like changes in cellular genetic processes, which are involved in increasing cancer protection.
Myrosinase activity is further enhanced by the addition of Vitamin C, so if you wanted, you could substitute the vinegar in the dressing for lemon juice.Myrosinase is inactivated by heat, even a light steaming, so look for ways to enjoy this superb veggie raw. I will post more recipes at a later date. You also ensure getting all the other enzymes, antioxidants and beta-carotene if you leave it uncooked.
That said, some research suggests that lightly steamed broccoli may make the Vitamin C more bioavailable, and that the fiber-related components in broccoli do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw broccoli still has cholesterol-lowering ability- just not as much.
I don’t know much about this, but I would say that if you are eating a plant based diet and getting most or all of your fats from raw nuts, seeds, olives and extra virgin olive oil, avocados, coconuts etc you may find your cholesterol happily low. So all in all…you decide. I love to eat it raw, and occasionally eat it lightly steamed. If you opt for steaming, do so for 60 seconds, it should be a vibrant green.
So. For this salad you need:
- 1 large head of broccoli
- half a red onion if large, a whole one if small…to taste. Diced.
- generous handful of raisins or two
- generous handful of sunflower seeds or two
(Other optional additions: raw shelled peas, chopped sugarsnap peas, young wheatsprouts, diced celery)
A word about the broccoli. You can do this by hand/with a knife, creating small florets, or you can almost “shred” it in a food processor/chopper. I prefer the latter, and it maybe more appealing to people who think they don’t like raw broccoli. Until they try this salad hopefully!
The dressing is done in a blender and consists of:
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked for a few hours or overnight)
- 2T honey
- 2 – 3T raw apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 t sea salt
- 1 cup water
You may want to start with 2 Tablespoons of the vinegar if you are not keen on too much acidity, but I think it is what makes the dressing.
Just taste test as you go.
This dressing will thicken on standing in the fridge for an hour or two, so bear that in mind. (Another version of this dressing calls for 1/2 a cup of water. this makes a far thicker version, more akin to mayo in consistency, but you will have to be more patient, because the blender will struggle a little more with less water)
If you have opted for small florets, then try to make it a little before the time you need it; a good few hours at least. The acid and salt in the dressing will wilt the broccoli down somewhat, making it slightly less crunchy; I don’t mean it will be soggy, I just mean it will take on the texture of briefly cooked broccoli; again, this is if you are not sold on eating it raw yet, this may work for you.
I have a great friend who texts me periodically “I need some of your broccoli salad!” Delicious.