Broccoli-Quinoa Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

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The winter colour palette is bleak but beautiful, all black and white and shades of grey. Snow has a way of softening the hard lines, of putting some magic into the landscape. There’s nothing prettier, for example, than a dusting of snow on bare branches, or an expanse of rooftops iced like cakes in white frosting. The only problem is that, at some point, our eyes long for colour.

Many go south for their fix of pink bougainvillea and turquoise sea. Others buckle up their bootstraps and carry on, their eyes fixed on the horizon, where spring will appear. I’m in that second category, toughing it out, grasping at little life rafts to help me get through, life rafts like this bright green Broccoli-Quinoa Salad with Buttermilk Dressing from Bon Appétite magazine. It’s just what the doctor ordered, a vibrant, healthy dish that will lift anyone out of the  monochromatic doldrums.

Broccoli, quinoa, pistachio nuts and fresh herbs are all wonderful foods, but what brings them together into a scrumptious whole is the spritely buttermilk dressing, creamy and tangy at the same time. This salad is healthy, easy and delicious, but best of all, it looks like a garden on a plate.

Broccoli-Quinoa Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Buttermilk Dressing
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) fine sea salt
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 small heads of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup white, red or black quinoa
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped tarragon
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped pistachios
Buttermilk Dressing
  1. Whisk buttermilk, olive oil, vegetable oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, rice vinegar, pepper, and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a medium bowl. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Dressing can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.
  1. Stir together shallot and 2 tablespoons buttermilk dressing in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Cook broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to a bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain and place on a kitchen towel-lined baking sheet.
  3. Meanwhile, return water in pot to a boil and cook quinoa until slightly al dente, about 12 minutes; drain. Toss quinoa and 2 tablespoons buttermilk dressing in a large bowl to coat; season with salt, Let cool.
  4. Add dressed shallot, broccoli, parsley, tarragon, pistachios, and 2 tablespoons buttermilk to quinoa and toss to combine. Add more salt and dressing if needed.
  • Serves: 4

5 thoughts on “Broccoli-Quinoa Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

  1. Karen

    Hi Louise,
    Do you think this could this be prepared ahead of time, up to the point of tossing everything together?
    Or would the broccoli go soggy?

    1. Louise Crosby Post author

      Hi, Karen. Tricky question. I think it depends on what time of year you’re making this salad. If you’re making it now, in winter, I think the quinoa could be cooked in advanced, dressed in a bit of the buttermilk dressing and left to sit, but it would be best if the broccoli were cooked just prior to throwing everything together. For me, the warm broccoli made it more of a comfort-food salad for cold weather. Cold would work better on a hot day. Hope that helps.


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