Cruciferous Detox Salad

I am about halfway through Mark Bittman’s book Food Matters, and I am absolutely obsessed with the content.

More plants. Less processed food (including “processed” animals! - emphasis on local, responsibly raised protein, whenever possible). No rules, just sane eating. Fruits and vegetables are healthy, so eat them in abundance. Who would disagree?

I’ve never eaten an obscene amount of meat, but from time to time I get busy and I neglect to prepare as many plants as I know I should be eating. And without all the crunchy, nutrient-dense vegetation to keep me full, I’ll naturally consume more animal products and processed “health” food. I’ll still eat within the paleo guidelines, staying grain-free and dairy-free, but there are plenty of ways to be technically paleo and eat like crap! Likewise, a vegan is still a vegan if they only eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but that would be missing the point almost entirely. Reading Food Matters has been a good way to reset my outlook on nutrition and remember that the exact rules of any diet dogma are significantly less important than frontloading the good stuff in abundance - (local and/or organic whenever possible) fruits and vegetables in all their glory.

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Enter the Cruciferous Detox Salad. My idea for this salad was simple. I went to the produce stand around the corner from my apartment in Astoria and made sure to purchase at least one of every vegetable and fruit that was locally grown on Long Island. This included delicious heads of broccoli and cauliflower (in all colors!), along with robust carrots and crispy apples which all went into this recipe. There were also locally grown beefsteak tomatoes, string beans, kale, swiss chard, and white bell peppers. Once I filled up my shopping bag with the local stuff, I picked up a few things I needed or wanted to fill in the gaps that had been flown in from California, such as lemons, strawberries, avocados, and grapefruit. I loved this strategy of loading up on local first and then filling in the gaps with imported produce! My tread-lightly-on-the-planet conscience felt very clear as I carried my haul home in my reusable blue IKEA bag and brainstormed ideas of what to make.

The broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and apples stood out to me as items that would go well in a salad together because they are all quite sturdy. The juice from the apples would help keep the vegetables from drying out (along with the dressing of course), and the combination seemed delightfully crunchy. One great thing about this salad is that it keeps REALLY well in the fridge! The photographs you see here were actually taken 5-6 days after I first made the salad.

I’ve had a few scoops of this salad over a bowl of arugula and called it breakfast, or packed some into an empty ice cream pint along with a can of sardines and called it lunch on-the-go. It’s very flexible and you should not stress about measuring the ingredients.

One note - you may find yourself with a TON of dressing. Use your best judgement when dressing the vegetables. Depending on the size of your broccoli and cauliflower (which absorb the most moisture), you may not need to use all of it. Reserve any extra honey mustard vinaigrette for other salads or for dipping crudites.

Cruciferous Detox Salad

This crunchy, juicy, nutrient-dense salad showcases Mother Nature in all her glory. It travels well, keeps nicely in the fridge, and is basically foolproof. Put on a good TV show and get to chopping!

Ingredients

1 head of broccoli, finely chopped (reserve stems for homemade broth if desired)

1 head of cauliflower, finely chopped (reserve stems for homemade broth if desired)

2 large carrots, shredded

2 tart apples (I like Granny Smith, but I buy whatever is local), thinly sliced

1 cup olive oil

½ cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup roasted pepitas

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and apples. In a small high-speed blender, mix olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour dressing over vegetables and stir to coat. Top with dried cranberries and pepitas.