This is a more natural version of the popular broccoli salad with bacon, raisins and sweet dressing, from, no surprise: 101cookbooks.com. The roasted shallots play the role of bacon, and apples fill in for raisins.
The quick blanch of the broccoli turns it bright green and lovely. I used a Granny Smith apple because that's what was in my fridge, but a sweeter, red-skinned apple would be a better contrast in taste and color. I successfully substituted homemade walnut puree for the almond butter (put walnuts in food processor until finely ground). I also used toasted walnuts, not candied. Candied nuts would be a good, especially if you want a sweeter version.
To make candied nuts, turn on a skillet on high heat. Test the heat of the skillet by adding just a pinch of sugar. You want the sugar to melt. When it does, add more, let it melt, and then add the nuts. Stir to coat the nuts, remove from heat. Move the nuts to a cookie sheet to cool. Break into pieces once hardened.
Broccoli Crunch Recipe
4 -5 cups tiny broccoli florets (and chopped stalks if you like)
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
2 small crisp apples, cut into bit-sized pieces (if you aren't going to use the apples immediately, let them sit in a bowl of water with the juice of 1/2 a lemon)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted or candied walnuts or almonds
1/3 cup pan-fried crunchy shallots*
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt as you would pasta water. Boil the broccoli just long enough to take the raw edge of - 10 or 15 seconds. Drain and immerse it in cold water (or let cold water run over it). At this point, I like to spin the broccoli in a salad spinner to get the water off, but a few good knocks against the sink in a strainer can do the trick pretty well. Set aside.
Make the dressing by sprinkling the salt over the clove of garlic. Smash the clove and chop, smash and chop - turning it into a paste. In a small bowl whisk the salty garlic paste with the almond butter, lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Add the hot water and whisk until light and creamy. Taste, make any adjustments and set aside.
In a large bowl gently toss the broccoli, apples, red onion, most of the shallots and nuts with a generous drizzle of the almond dressing. Turn out onto a platter and finish with the rest of the shallots and chives if you like. Serve family style.
*Stir together the shallots, a splash of clarified butter (or olive oil) and big pinch of salt In a large skillet over medium heat. Stir every few minutes, you want the shallots to slowly brown over about fifteen minutes. Let them get dark, dark brown (but not burn), and if needed turn down the heat. Remove from skillet and onto a paper towel to cool in a single layer where they will crisp up a bit.