Broccoli Salad Recipe

The quick answer:  Salads are the easiest way to add vegetables to your dietary.


Salads and Fats

The imbalance between our omega-6 and omega-3 fat intake—we consume too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3—is a critical problem with the modern American diet (MAD).  We need both fats­—they’re deemed essential—but we need a balance.  As a rough metric, we should eat 1/3 as much omega-6 and three-fold more omega-3. 

There is true irony in our omega-3 fat deficiency—it’s the most plentiful fat on the planet.   Omega-3 is found in green plants of the field, and in the algae of the seas.  We suffer scarcity in the midst of plenty because we don’t eat enough green stuff, or animals that feast on green foods.    So leafy dark greens are one source of omega-3 fats; they’re also rich in youth-preserving antioxidants.

There’s seasonal rhythm:  Omega-3 peaks with the green of spring.  Omega-6 has its zenith in the fall, when seed crops are harvested.  In olden times the winter diet of preserved foods and meat caused a deficiency of vitamins and omega-3 fats.   But feasting on the green leaves of spring—what we call salad—restored their health. 

Nature reflects this rhythm.  Omega-3 supports new life—most animals are born in the spring so feed on greens (or get their milk from a mother feeding on greens).  The omega-6 of fall prepares for the winter.  Animals can be made to hibernate simply by increasing the omega-6 in their diet while lowering omega-3 fats.

A Brief History of Salad

In the ‘20s it was fashionable to visit and eat at the great hotels.  These hotels had an advantage over the home kitchen: refrigeration.  This new invention wasn’t yet practical for homes, but the great hotels could afford them.  So they began to distinguish themselves with refrigerated foods and dishes. 

In New York the Ritz-Carleton affered their Chef’s Salad; the Waldorf-Astoria countered with the Waldorf Salad.   When ordinary homes had refrigerators chicken salad, fruit salad, potato salad, carrot salad and Cole slaw became part of our year-around dietary.  Refrigeration had the nice benefit of lengthening the food seasons.

For this post, we define salad as any mixture of greens served with a dressing.  The dressing has a purpose.  The fat in dressings enhances the bioavailability of fat-soluble nutrients.  So there’s hidden wisdom in the traditional oil and vinegar dressing.

Salads are the easiest way to include vegetables in your diet.  Start your salad with greens but include a variety of chopped vegetables.  It’s a good way to clear out the refrigerator.  We’re sparing with our meat intake, but a little meat adds variety and flavor to salads: chopped chicken, ham, bacon, crab, shrimp are favorites.  It’s also a good way to use leftovers.  Nuts are good in salad too, as is cheese.  We include salads in most of our dinners.  Here is a favorite recipe:

Brooke’s Broccoli Salad


1 bunch of broccoli, cut into small flowerets

1 bunch romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

4 green onions chopped

1 package of ramen noodles (discard the flavor packet)

1 cup slivered almonds or chopped pecans

¼ cup butter

For the dressing:

1 cup olive or canola oil

½ cup sugar

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste


Brown the nuts and noodles in butter and drain on a paper towel.  Combine all other ingredients and toss with the dressing. 

Please comment:  A purist could reasonably complain the above salad uses ramen noodles and sugar.  (Confession: I actually decreased the amount of these two ingredients.)  But their use is justified, I think, by how much broccoli and romaine we eat when this salad is served.  Please share your favorite green salad recipes.  (NOT green Jello salad, please.)

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Reader Comments (11)

I didn't realize dark greens had any fat, let alone Omega 3s. Makes me feel even better about putting spinach on my (vegetarian) sandwich everyday!

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom

My favorite salad right now is roasted, diced beets seasoned w/ olive oil, salt, and pepper. These are served on arugula or spinach with some walnuts and a little crumbled blue cheese. Some diced pear is also a nice addition.

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay

Tom Wise people have converted to dark greens like spinach, instead of the pale iceberg lettuce we grew up eating. The more a plant is exposed to the sun, the more antioxidants and omega-3 is present. The omega-3 in plants is termed "short chain". The omega-3 from animal sources, especially cold water fish, are categorized "long chain". We need both. The body can convert the short chain to the long chain form, but the capacity is limited. All of which is just a good reason to enjoy a Crab Louie or shrimp salad. Best.

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

Thank you! I'm making this on Saturday. Yum!

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

This sounds delicious - we make something similar and call it "the salad". The dressing is a bit different, 2 tbs balsamic vinegar, 2 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs sugar and 1 teaspoon soy sauce, warmed in a pan just to melt the sugar. Brown the ramen noodles and almonds in a bit of olive oil and a touch of butter. We toss it on spring greens with some green onions. Next time I make it I will be tossing in some broccoli as well. Thanks for the recipe.

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

I love doing salads with roasted veggies on top, especially now, when the weather's colder. My favorite is topping greens with roasted sweet potatoes and red onions. We also throw on a few dried cranberries and some shredded chicken if we have any on hand. Mmm, it's so good.

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith

I think it should be called "Clare's Broccoli Salad" as I'm pretty sure I got the recipe from mom!

February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrooke

Thank you Brooke, but this is a popular recipe and belongs to the world. Mom

February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClare Hellewell

My favorite salad to serve with dinner right now is greens with chopped apple (honeycrisp if available), a little goat cheese and Trader Joe's sugared pecans, with Brianna's vinaigrette (the one with the strawberry on the bottle). Delicious..

February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrooke

So, you might want to rethink using ramen noodles after watching this video. They don't digest, even after two hours! I would have never have guessed this.

Omega-3s are also another reason to choose pastured eggs, beef, butter, milk, etc. versus the conventional.

February 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLady Susan

I think we will have salad for dinner tonight! Lately I've really been enjoying including red bell peppers (raw, cut up) in our salads. I usually do organic mixed greens, tomato, red bell pepper, cucumber, and some sort of nut and leftover meat (chicken, tri tip) if we have it. Often I slice up an avocado for the top and our usual dressings are olive oil and either balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar.

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

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