If you adore the savory goodness that is roasted broccoli, then you will love this charred broccoli salad. If you’ve ever been underwhelmed by bland broccoli slaws, then this might be right up your alley, too. Or maybe you’ve never been a fan of broccoli in general. This salad could very well change your mind. The nutty flavors of roasted broccoli are wrapped in a savory-salty miso vinaigrette and topped with crunchy toasted walnuts. It’s addictive. I guess what I’m trying to say is: this charred broccoli salad with miso vinaigrette is one of my favorite recipes, and I really think you will love it, too.
More than just roasted broccoli, more than just a salad...
When browsing cookbooks or noodling around online, I often see roasted or grilled vegetables kept separate from their fresh salad counterparts. Sure, each winter a select few will go crazy for salads of grilled radicchio with walnuts and blue cheese, but mostly “salad” is all about freshness, excluding the tasty char of roasted or grilled veggies.
This salad brings both freshness and toasty char. The fresh herbs and baby kale are vibrant and light, while the roasty flavors of the broiled broccoli add depth. In the summer it fits into the grilling vibe, and in the winter it feels cozy. The dressing, with a garlic and miso backbone, ties everything together. It’s absolutely craveable.
What to Expect:
A range of textures and balanced flavors make each bite of this broccoli salad as delicious as the last.
Salad is all about texture, specifically a variety of textures. Each bite should be well-balanced, with enough variation that a whole bowlful never gets boring. All of the elements of this broccoli salad come together with that idea in mind.
- Broccoli stems and florets are both used as the foundation of the salad. The florets have a crisper texture, while the stems are more tender.
- Baby kale and cilantro leaves add a fresh, leafy crunch.
- Toasted nuts are a salad staple. The crunchy crispness of walnuts stands up to the miso dressing without becoming limp.
The key to a delicious salad is in the seasoning.
When choosing a dressing, think about the dominant flavors of your salad ingredients. Broccoli and kale both naturally have notes of bitterness. To soften that we need a punchy dressing with a good amount of sweetness and acidity.
- White miso adds a touch of nutty sweetness and flavor complexity. Its natural saltiness and umami create the perfect savory base for the dressing. It also caramelizes with the roasted broccoli, adding yet another layer of flavor.
- Sherry vinegar adds the needed acidity to keep the salad bright, but it has a toasty depth that plays beautifully with the miso and the roasted flavors of the broccoli.
- Honey or maple syrup balances the natural bitterness of kale and brings out the flavors of the walnuts.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
A few easy steps while prepping will take your broccoli salad to the next level.
For some people, “salad” can trigger memories of limp leaves and heavy dressing, but there are a few ways to make sure you stay firmly away from any “sad salad” jokes. It will vary from recipe to recipe, but all you need is a thoughtful approach to each ingredient as you prep.
To cook or not to cook? Salads don’t have to be crunchy, but as mentioned above they really shine when you have a variety of textures. Cooking some ingredients, but leaving others raw, can quickly create that variation.
- Broiling the broccoli gives you a delicious, nutty flavor, but it’s fast so it won’t lose its toothsome texture.
- Baby kale is sturdy but tender enough to eat raw. Fully grown kale could work in this salad, but it can be quite tough. You would need to either sauté it or massage it to wilt and tenderize the leaves.
- Always toast your nuts. Or candy them. Raw nuts of any kind are a missed opportunity for both flavor and texture. A toasted nut will be crisp, crunchy, and aromatic. A raw nut will be dense and hard, with a flat flavor. 5 to 10 minutes in a 325ºF oven should do the trick for most nuts.
- As always, I recommend mellowing your alliums (aka garlic, shallot, onions, leeks, etc) in your acid before building your salad. It both smooths out the raw bite and lightly infuses the vinegar (or citrus juice), so the flavor is distributed evenly throughout the salad.
Notes for Success:
As mentioned above, you can sub fully grown kale if that’s what you have on hand. Simply remove the leaves from the stems and chop or tear into bite-sized pieces (about 1-2 inches). To sauté, add to a hot skillet with a drizzle of oil and pinch of salt. Stir until just wilted then remove and let cool. To massage, toss the chopped kale in a bowl with a drizzle of oil. Massage the leaves until wilted. Proceed with the recipe as-written, folding in your wilted kale instead of the baby kale.
You can use a darker miso in place of the white miso. The flavor will be deeper and, depending on your miso, less salty. Adjust seasoning with Kosher salt to taste.
I love the cilantro here because it adds an incredibly lively note that is absolutely scrumptious with the subtle sweetness of the miso dressing. If you truly hate cilantro, omit it. Or, replace it with and equal amount of parsley or chives.
More salads with excellent "crunch factor:"
Charred Broccoli Salad with Miso Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons white miso
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1½ pounds broccoli, stems peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick, florets cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 2 cups (1½ ounces) baby kale, roughly chopped
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
- ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- ½ cup toasted walnuts, divided
- 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
- 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Step 1Preheat your broiler with a rack about 4 inches from the heating element. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.In a large bowl, whisk together two tablespoons of miso and the neutral oil. It won't come together completely smoothly, and that's okay. Add the broccoli and toss until evenly coated. Don't be afraid to use your hands to really massage the dressing into the florets. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Broil until the broccoli is charred and crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool briefly on the sheet pan.
- Step 2In the same large bowl, make the dressing. Combine the grated garlic and the vinegar. Set aside for 10 minutes to mellow the garlic's bite. Whisk in the olive oil, honey, miso, black pepper, and smoked paprika. When the broccoli is slightly cooled, add back to the bowl and toss with the dressing. Fold in the chopped kale, scallions, cilantro, and half the walnuts. Serve sprinkled with the remaining walnuts.
This Post Has 4 Comments
I just fed this to a houseful of guests, to RAVE reviews! Even the reluctant broccoli eater gobbled it up and wanted more. Thank you for a great recipe!
I was just served this – oh my! A lovely combination of flavors and textures. I went back for seconds(!) but the bowl was already empty. So good!
I had some impulse-bought broccoli in my fridge (lol), so as soon as I saw this I knew I wanted to make it! Sooooo good! I was eating it right out of the bowl!!
Yes, I love to hear that! Thanks for the feedback, Cat!