Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mama's Broccoli Salad

When I was a teenager I would get horrible monosodium glutamate headaches after going to a Chinese restaurant. When I started getting them at home, I looked in the kitchen cabinets and found the culprit-"Accent" a brand name for MSG that unfortunately truly did make the flavors in a dish sing. Mama was pretty sure I was imagining the cause of my headaches because she had been putting the stuff in virtually everything for years. I was all self righteous teenage certainty and strong armed her to stop using it.
Now, I loved Mama's broccoli salad obsessively
- its what I'd want her to make every time she gave me a choice-I once ate an entire serving bowl of it at one time.(I was 9 months pregnant at the time. Nevertheless- a little over the top.) In my own kitchen, I would carefully follow her steps to prepare it- pretty simple stuff- but it was just never as good as hers. I put it down to Mama Magic. A couple of years after her death, I mentioned to my father that I couldn't ever get that salad right . "Well, how are you making it?" I went through the steps. "Oh, no wonder,you're leaving out the pinch of Knorr dried chicken soup" Now, Mama and I had full disclosure on recipes so I couldn't figure out how she could forget that ingredient.And what a bizarre thing to put in a salad dressing. When I looked at the instant soup ingredient list I understood:MSG is in there. She had followed my demands to stop using Accent, but had figured if it wasn't actually called that, it wasn't technically verboten. And, boy does it make a difference in the salad. I don't like using additives but for this salad, all bets off.

Boil a head of broccoli until it loses its bright green color. This is not a crunchy salad-no resistance. Drain and wait till it is absolutely cool, and then drench it in this dressing: pour out some olive oil in a bowl,smash some garlic cloves and let that sit at least an hour. Fish out the garlic and add lemon juice,salt, cracked pepper and about 1/4 teaspoon Knorr chicken bouillon.Beat with a fork till its emulified. You're going to have to play with the amounts of lemon and oil to your taste. Let the broccoli marinate for a bit, and really, you can't drench it too much-- we're already throwing caution to the wind on this one.I hope you love this as much as I do. And, you know what? I never do get a headache from it.


  1. just got back from el studio. and OMG, I actually have all those ingredients. You know what that means. I must be ill. yes, I do plan on making it. Without the MSG, as that's the only one I do not have. Throw a bunch of salt in? Kidding. I don't need more of that stuff in my system.

    You should make sweet broccoli salad. It's like chicken salad, but with broccoli. Mayo, raisins, apples, broccoli, and lemon juice. Really good.

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  3. Sorry..I deleted that last post because I wasn't sure if you knew who I was.

    I'm going to try this recipe. My kids and I could live off salads and I know they would love this one. I'm a vegetarian though so the chicken broth has to go!!

  4. Oh God- you don't understand!!!!! The terrible ingredient is what makes it so good! Stephanie, it doesn't have to be chicken, use the dried vegetable bouillon.

  5. I do understand, I'm just lazy. I have all the ingredients but that one thing. I've never even heard of it, I'll have to check the store. lol. looks like you're really nuts over it. I'll let ya know, but if I die, it's because i ingested MSG intentionally. To hell with all the other times I did without knowing I'm hungry.

  6. There are bouillons that don't use MSG. Better than bouillon doesn't. Might not be quite as "perfect" as the Knorr, but for some with zero tollerance. It's a paste rather than the dry.

    My wife has low tollerance, so the "pinch" used here won't be too much a problem.


    "emulcified" for those that don't know is when the oil and other liquides are mixed to the point they won't seperate when let sit for a time. Kind of the consistancy of egg white. Nana, you use a fork rather than a whisk? Personally, I never could get the wrist action right with a whisk, and prefer a fork, like my mother did (or cheat and use a stick blender)

  7. Yes, the fork does it for me-- pulling out the whisk for this one is too grand a gesture.(:

  8. Nana-MSG hinders breast growth dontcha know!!!!

    I second the Better than Bouillon. I use the no beef, no chicken, vegetable and mushroom base. Yummmmmm!!!

  9. "Comment from Wendy (Steph's "sister")"

    MSG may hinder breast growth but broccoli is one of the great things for preventing breast cancer, along with green tea. 3 cups of green tea a day reduces your risk by a huge 70%.

    I'll definitely give this a try. Nana, I must be grand as I always use a whisk when I make vinaigrette :D I am a vegetarian as well, so the veggie bouillon is a must.

  10. You go on and stylishly whip up that dressing!

  11. Love this style... "some" pretty much the way I usually cook. Guessing based on the amount of brocolli, quarter cup each olive oil and lemon. 3-4 cloves garlic, but garlic, the more the better. Hard part about eye-ball measures, it makes it tough to write up recipes for others, so when I do, I from memory guestimate amounts, and then follow what I've written up and adjust.

    Might try this with brussels in place of broccoli. They will need to be well cooked. My brother and I would be the only ones to eat that..... All the more for us. ;)

  12. Tried this tonight, and ended up over doing the brocolli. Think I was expecting a more olive colour to indicate the right softness. Also was pretty rushed so didn't let the garlic steap long enough. Finished off one bottle of Olive oil it was just enough, good thing there is some on special this week.

    Used two lemons..... But split that with the cake.

  13. I tried it a couple of nights ago. I had trouble cooking the broccoli past bright green so it was still slightly al dente. Next time I'll try to cook it a little more, because now I can see how it might take the dressing better. I used a vegetable bouillon I am fond of and the dressing was great. It did have an indefinable something extra,and had I not known what it was I would never have been able to guess it. Anyway it went very well with the broccoli and I'll use it again.
    I was wondering about how it would go with brussel sprouts myself. I guess there's only one way to find out.

  14. Personally, I'd prefer it with a touch of crunch/eldente myself.

    BTW, a suggestion. Any time you use fresh lemons, zest the peel and freeze in a ziplock bag. That way if you ever need zest you have some handy.

  15. And here I post way behind the times... Busy with wedding stuff. :p

    Eirian loves broccoli, so I'm sure we will be trying this one!