Out of the three vegetables in this year’s election for Veggie in Chief, Broccoli is the most likable. It has been a part of the table for many years.

The poor, the rich, the young, and the old alike can identify with it. The young see Broccoli as the cool Grandfather of vegetables and are comforted by its popularity among hippies. For the old it has been there through wars, riots, presidents, and cultural movements.

Everyone understands Broccoli; it needs no explanations.

Broccoli’s supporters praise its accessibility to all people, while opponents think Broccoli is too radical a choice for salad. Many fear America is not ready for Broccoli to play a larger role at the table than just a stir-fry supplement.

Is Broccoli the right vegetable for salad in this day and age?

On the salad sidelines

Broccoli has lurked on the salad sidelines for years. It’s been hiding under sweet globs of mayo-based dressing or drying out near the cauliflower in restaurant salad bars across the nation. Ironically, Broccoli salad seems old-fashioned to many, something one would find in a 1950s cookbook on entertaining. It’s difficult for some to take seriously a salad that mostly shows up in supermarket delis and nursing home menus.

Those on the fence are worried that Broccoli is just another Millennial fad. It’s trendy now but what happens when it actually takes the lead? Will its support wane once people realize they may not be prepared for its role in salad?

Broccoli

The establishment vs. Broccoli

Given Broccoli’s popularity and respectability with the American people, you’d think it shouldn’t be controversial at all.

In fact, some politicians have come out against it in the past, even the President of the United States. In one of the most scathing attacks on a vegetable by a politician, not to mention a commander in chief, the first President Bush said:

“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”President George H.W. Bush, 1989

This scathing dismissal was countered by then Democratic First Lady Hillary Clinton, who campaigned in 1992 with Vice First Lady Tipper Gore to

“Bring Broccoli back to the White House!”First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1992

President Barack Obama claims it is his favorite vegetable. Its friends and enemies seem to ride strict party lines.

A nutritional superpower

Putting politics aside, it’s hard not to argue Broccoli’s role as a nutritional superpower. Its per-serving dosage of vitamin C would make oranges obsolete. It also packs a lot of vitamin K, which supports bone health; fiber, which helps clean your system; and a host of other vitamins which support your health.

In terms of nutrition, the other candidates don’t even come close.

Broccoli in salad

Apply the KISS principle to Broccoli when it comes to making salad: Keep It Super Simple.

Broccoli does not need mayonnaise to make it edible; it does not need bacon to make it edible. It just needs a little prep and a little imagination. Having done the same job for many years, it will do well out of its comfort zone.

Soften it

Some find raw Broccoli’s texture offputting, so blanching it can help ease its chew factor. Soften its toughness by cooking it in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and then shocking it in cold water. This also makes it more absorbent and it will soak up flavorful dressing.

Chop it

Try Broccoli in a simple marinated salad with a sesame vinaigrette. Chop it into small pieces and mix with other chopped vegetables, seeds, beans, and a light dressing for a crunchy nutritional boost. It is a common vegetable in Asian cuisine, making it a perfect addition to Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian salads.

Eat all of it

Go beyond the florets and use the crunchy, flavorful stalk too. Shredded stalk is a wonderful addition to slaw or any shredded vegetable salad.

Transforming salad

Americans may be getting tired of lettuce. We are bored of the typical Caesars who cater to people with bland palates who can’t make decisions. We are getting irritated with the Niçoises—so elitist and unpronounceable.

The American people seem ripe for a vegetable that represents our time, our needs, and our dreams of a more inclusive table. Let’s consider Broccoli, a vegetable we all know and understand and one that is capable of transforming the way our country makes salad.

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