OK, "Sexy, Spicy Broccoli" was really one of the rejected names for Melissa Clark's ceviche-like broccoli salad in the Times a couple weeks back, but we have to beg her to give it another chance. This broccoli is indeed spicy, and if a broccoli salad could ever be called sexy, we think this is the one.
From the very moment we opened up the Times we knew we had to try it. It's a very easy recipe: just toss broccoli with a little vinegar and salt. Then fry garlic and cumin in a quantity of hot oil, add some pepper flakes and sesame oil, and toss with the broccoli. Let it sit for a few hours; the acid and oil partially "cook" the broccoli while still leaving it deliciously crunchy. Like the recipe title suggests, the salad does taste as if it's been "cured" in the oil and salt.
We like broccoli but it gets so boring - steamed broccoli is such a basic, go-to weeknight vegetable that it gives us the blahs. This recipe woke us up! We love cumin in anything, especially when it's fried in oil like this.
Now, having said all this, we're going to be like those dreadful commenters on recipe sites who swap out every ingredient except the salt and say, I followed the recipe exactly! Except for these few things...
When we went to make a double batch of this (we were in a time crunch too) we found that we were, inexplicably and inexcusably, out of olive oil! This recipe calls for 3/4 cup and were doubling it. What to do? After a few moments of agonized indecision, we swapped canola oil for half of the oil called for, and made up the difference with a bit of roasted walnut oil. We probably ended up using only 2/3 of the oil called for, but it was still delicious.
Also! We are out of white cumin, which is presumably what is called for here. We had black cumin though, which has a slightly different taste - less nutty and more delicate. We also squeezed two lemons over at the end for a little more acid and tartness.
It was still good - so, so good. Try this - even with half substitutions the recipe works so well! Sexy broccoli indeed.