Tag Archives: olives

Mediterranean Broccoli Salad

11 Nov

If I had to rank my favourite vegetables, broccoli would be among the top 3. Hands down. For starters, its bright green colour gives off a healthy “halo” and adds visual appeal to any plate. Its firm texture and crunch means it takes a bit of chewing to ingest, which helps you feel more satiated than some other vegetables (like a serving of sautéed greens, which I can gobble down in seconds then immediately find myself wanting more). Broccoli is hardy, so it can be stored in the fridge for many days (even weeks!) without drying out. And it’s relatively affordable, so it won’t break the bank if you’re eating it regularly.

If you’re still not convinced, broccoli’s nutritional profile should make you a believer. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K, providing 100% of your daily needs of each in a one cup serving. Like many other dark green vegetables, it’s a source of folate and fibre, and contributes some (albeit a small amount) of calcium towards your daily requirements. As a member of the cruciferous family, it contains phytochemicals that have potential anticancer properties. One such component, diindolylmethane, has been used in clinical trials by the U.S. National Cancer Institute as a therapeutic against various forms of cancer.

Today I had the day off of work. Instead of catching up on errands and projects around the house, I thought I would bring lunch to a friend who is going through a difficult time. Broccoli salad popped into my head as a nice accompaniment to Moroccan quinoa salad and maple-Dijon-lemon-dill chicken breasts, but I was craving something different from the standard creamy version with raisins and bacon. Plus, raw broccoli doesn’t always agree with my tummy so I wanted a recipe where the broccoli could be cooked.


Amongst a sea of mayonnaise-based recipes, I found a Mediterranean-style broccoli salad that combined sundried tomatoes, olives, and feta in a lemony vinaigrette. It was fate, I thought, since my fridge had all of these ingredients tucked away. I made a few modifications, including less olive oil to keep the salad lighter and less salt as the ingredients themselves seemed salty enough. To keep my digestive tract happy, I steamed the broccoli briefly then dried it well to minimize added moisture (if raw broccoli is your thing, the original recipe does NOT call for cooking so skip this additional step). My only mistake was that I tossed the salad last night, forgetting that acid turns green vegetables brown (my undergrad food science professor would be so disappointed!). Luckily, the dull greenish appearance of the salad didn’t bother my friend and didn’t detract from the delicious taste.


This salad is simple yet flavourful. The umami from the sundried tomatoes and olives adds a punch of flavour, which is balanced nicely by the earthy roasted almonds. A great make-ahead dish for potlucks, or for every day!


Mediterranean Broccoli Salad
(adapted from CookieandKate.com)

Broccoli Salad:

1 large head of broccoli, florets removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup minced shallot or red onion
1/3 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, patted with paper towel and chopped coarsely
1/8 cup thinly sliced kalamata olives
1/8 to 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup slivered or slices almonds, toasted


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pinch of red pepper flakes

  1. In a large pot, steam broccoli until just slightly tender (do not overcook!). To quickly stop the cooking process, rinse broccoli with cold water, then plunge into a bowl of ice cold water. This will also minimize browning.
  2. In a medium serving bowl, combine shallots, sundried tomato, olives, and feta. Add broccoli once cool.
  3. In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and whisk until combined. Toss salad with dressing approximately 30 minutes before serving. Add almonds just before serving.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 200 kcal, 12 g fat (1.7 g saturated), 20 g carbohydrate, 6 g fibre, 8 g protein, 650 mg sodium

Tis the Season… for Tomatoes!

9 Sep

If you’re a tomato-eater, you can appreciate the difference between in-season tomatoes (plump, juicy, and sweet) and middle-of-winter tomatoes (mealy, watery, and flavourless).  We’re in the middle of tomato season in Ontario– a reality that officially registered with me this past weekend.  I was at a rest stop in upstate New York, en route to Connecticut for a weekend visit with my parents.  The food options were limited: Tim Hortons (we were still fairly close to the Canadian border at this point) or a burger-and-fries joint known as Checkers.  I grabbed an uninspired salad from the latter– iceberg lettuce, a slice or two of cucumber, and a dash of grated cheese with a microwaved chicken breast on top.  Yum.  But hiding beneath the chicken were two bright red tomato wedges.  Not the greenish-orangey tomatoes that I’ve come to expect from fast food joints.  They were juicy and ruby red throughout… and they actually tasted like tomato!

Wanting to take advantage of the abundance (and affordability!) of great tasting tomatoes available in grocery stores at this time of year, I sifted through my cookbooks and came across a recipe for a tomato salad.  It called for 3 different kinds of tomatoes (plum, field, and grape), a handful of olives, a small amount of bocconcini cheese, all topped with caramelized onions, fresh basil, and a creamy yet light balsamic dressing.

Grape tomatoes grown in Ontario... what a treat!

I had a couple of girlfriends over for dinner (who asked to be referred to as N, S, and M) and they were all in love with this salad.  The sweet tomatoes and caramelized onions paired wonderfully with the salty olives, creamy bocconcini, and the tangy balsamic dressing.  The fresh basil was the cherry on top– the salad still probably would have been wonderful without but it added another dimension of flavour (and colour).

Tomato Salad (it tastes better than it looks... I promise!)

Tomato Salad with Caramelized Onions, Bocconcini Cheese & Olives
(adapted from Rose Reisman’s Family Favorites)

The recipe said to arrange the tomatoes, cheese, olives, and onions on a serving platter, then toss with the dressing.  I couldn’t figure out the logistics of tossing on a serving platter so I placed all of the ingredients into a bowl instead.  The presentation wasn’t very pretty so next time I might use a platter and simply drizzle the dressing over top.

Also, if you’ve never caramelized onions before, don’t be intimidated.  This was a first for me and it was incredibly easy!  A good non-stick pan is important, and make sure you stir the onions at regular intervals.

2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 large sweet white onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp brown sugar
2 large field tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 plum tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
1-1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
60 grams (2 oz) bocconcini cheese, thinly sliced (about 2 mini balls, or 1 large ball)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tbsp light mayonnaise
1-1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic

3 tbsp chopped fresh basil

  1. Over medium heat, lightly coat a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and add the oil.  Saute the onion slices for 10 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned.  Add the sugar and saute for another 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Arrange the tomatoes, bocconcini cheese, and olives on a serving platter.  Place the caramelized onions on top.
  3. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the oil, sour cream or yogurt, mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, honey and garlic until well blended.  Pour the dressing evenly over the salad and toss (see tip above).  Garnish with basil and serve.

Salad can be prepared earlier in the day and refrigerated until ready to serve.  Dress at the last minute.

Makes 4 large servings.  Per serving: 247 kcal, 15 g fat, 3 g fibre, 320 mg sodium