This is a famous Broccoli Salad from the New York Times. Seeing all the amazing reviews, I tried it once, had a nibble, and wasn’t convinced. But then I kept nibbling and couldn’t stop. I’m now convinced. (And I’ve made it countless times since!)
Famous NY Times Broccoli Salad with cumin, garlic and sesame
Welcome to Day 2 of the RecipeTin Eats 30 Day Holiday Salad Marathon, a day where I’m bringing you something simple yet intriguing and little bit different!
It’s a wildly popular raw Broccoli Salad by Melissa Clark of New York Times Cooking. Red wine vinegar lightly “cooks” the raw broccoli, then it’s marinated in an intensely flavoured mix of cumin, garlic, sesame and olive oil.
It is so unexpectedly tasty, unique, and I keep making it over and over so I wanted to share the recipe with you!
Not a fan of raw broccoli? This may not be the dish to quite convert you. Try this one instead, where the creamy dressing really rounds out the crunchiness like a coleslaw. Otherwise, lightly steam the broccoli instead – it’s worth making just for the dressing!
What you need for the NY Times Broccoli Salad
Here’s what you need for this broccoli salad. Part of the appeal and is how few ingredients are called for to make such an interesting salad, though I do forewarn you that there is marinating time involved.
Regular readers will be unsurprised to hear that I tweaked the ingredient quantities a bit… here’s what I changed from the source recipe (and why):
- (Far) less oil – I reduced the original 3/4 cup (185 ml) olive oil which to me – and many hundreds of commenters on the recipe – is an obscenely excessive amount of oil. We don’t need our broccoli swimming in oil! I’ve cut it down to 1/3 cup which is still on the generous side by my usual standards, but the right amount to bring the required richness and mouthfeel. You can go as low as 1/4 cup however;
- Less salt – Similarly, I reduced from 1 tsp to 3/4 tsp because it was a tad salty for my taste. You could reduce even further to 1/2 tsp. (NB. Make sure you use kosher/cooking salt, not table salt which is much finer. If you use table salt you would need to reduce to just under 1/2 tsp); and
- Doubled red wine vinegar from 1 1/2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon. 1 1/2 teaspoons is such a small amount it did nothing from what I could tell. I increased it to cut through the richness of the oil and also to “cook” the broccoli a bit better.
How to make the NY Times Broccoli Salad
The making part is straightforward but a bit unique, calling for a light “pickling” of the broccoli before marinating in a heavily flavoured garlic-cumin-sesame olive oil dressing:
- Light pickle – Toss the broccoli salad in the red wine vinegar and set aside for 10 minutes. It has the effect of slightly softening the surface, sort of like Ceviche. But more importantly, we get vinegar tang into the broccoli before dousing with the garlicky olive oil;
- Infuse oil – Infuse the olive oil with garlic, cumin and sesame flavours, by frying until golden brown. This literally takes 30 seconds;
- Toss – Pour over the broccoli and toss well. Love those crispy golden garlic bits!
- Marinate – Mix and leave for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days, to “marinate”. This is when the flavour magic happens and the garlic/cumin/sesame flavours penetrates the broccoli. It’s one of those rare salads that gets better with time!
Cooked broccoli option – For those of you wary of or dead-set adverse to raw broccoli, just steam the florets lightly before proceeding with the recipe. Please don’t boil, it will make the florets watery and dilute the flavour!
I didn’t even realise how much I liked it …
I first made this recipe out of sheer curiosity, wondering why people rated it so highly. With the first bite freshly made, without letting it sit and soak in the marinade, I wasn’t convinced at all.
Post-marinating for 1 hour, I had my second bite, and thought it was fine but I still didn’t understand the rave reviews.
Then I just kept picking at it, eating more and more, and…….wait! I realised I literally could not stop eating it. It’s bizarrely addictive. I still don’t quite rave about it to friends because it’s not everyone’s thing. But I am quietly addicted to it, and you might just become so too.
So I want to share it, quietly, with you, my internet friends. 😇
Love to know what you think if you try it! – Nagi x
PS. Remember, raw broccoli haters, steam your broccoli first. This is not the recipe to try to convert you into a raw broccoli lover! Use this Creamy Raw Broccoli Salad with Bacon instead. You will like that one, I promise!
What is the Holiday Salad Marathon?
This is my inaugural Christmas recipe countdown where I am sharing 30 salad recipes in a row until Christmas Eve – something completely different to people’s usual baking countdowns!
These salads are in addition to my regular 3 new recipes a week. Because aren’t you bored of the usual tomato-cucumber-lettuce garden salad routine??
Watch how to make it
Captioning typo alert! The liquid I pour over the broccoli at 10 seconds is the red wine vinegar, not sesame oil! 🙂
New York Times Famous Broccoli Salad – with Cumin, Garlic and Sesame
- 500g/1lb broccoli florets , large florets halved or cut into thirds (3 medium or 2 large broccoli heads, 1kg/2lb in total)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, cider vinegar)
- 3/4 tsp salt, cooking/kosher (if table salt: 1/2 tsp)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves , finely minced using knife (not crusher)
- 2 tsp cumin seeds (whole, not powder)
- 2 tsp sesame oil , roasted (Note 1)
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes / chilli fakes (optional)
- "Cook" raw broccoli: Toss broccoli in red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside 10 minutes – it will lightly pickle, almost "ceviche" the broccoli.
- Garlic, spice and oil mix: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, cumin seeds and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until garlic is light golden.
- Toss broccoli: Immediately pour oil mix over broccoli. Toss very well using a rubber spatula to scrape up all the oil from the side of the bowl.
- Marinate: Leave on the counter for at least 1 hour to marinate, or refrigerate for up to 48 hrs (it gets better with time).
- Serve at room temp, not cold, for best flavour!
Life of Dozer
He was licking his lips until he got close enough to realise what it was….