I have a story for you. I can’t believe I haven’t told you already! A few Fridays ago, I drove out to Green Dirt Farm in Weston, Missouri. The clouds grew ominously dark on my way out there, so I knew we were in for another storm.
We watched the clouds roll closer and closer as we sampled some amazing cheese and wine (if you live in the Kansas City area, you really must go). Soon, it was pouring rain like it had the night before. Lighting! Thunder! Electricity zig-zagged across the sky. Then, the tornado sirens started wailing.
I really love a good storm, and we couldn’t have picked a better place to get stuck in one. We picked up our cheese plate and our wine glasses and headed down to the basement, making friends with a few ladies on a birthday trip on the way. The representative from the vineyard refilled our glasses, and the tornado never touched down.
It was grand. Perhaps (perhaps) the only missing element was a big green salad to balance the cheese and wine. This broccoli rabe salad is a salad for kale salad lovers and garlic fiends who want to change things up. Broccoli rabe has a powerful flavor all its own, so I massaged it with a dash of salt to reduce it a little bit, although this salad is nothing short of bold. Intense, even. Then, I tossed the massaged broccoli rabe with a garlicky lemon dressing. Freshly toasted sunflower seeds, crisp celery, salty Parmesan and sweet dried cranberries round it out.
I’ve shared a few broccoli rabe recipes on the blog already, but it was new to me until about a year ago. It’s bursting with nutrition benefits and a unique flavor that I’ve really learned to love. If you want to give it a try, you might start with sautéed broccoli rabe (broccoli rabe peanut soba noodles) or roasted (broccoli rabe pesto flatbread and lemony roasted potatoes and broccoli rabe). So good!
Massaged Broccoli Rabe Salad with Sunflower Seeds & Cranberries
- Prep Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 5 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 side salads 1x
- Category: Salad
Raw broccoli rabe, once massaged with a lemony, garlicky dressing, transforms into a delicious salad green. Be prepared to get your hands dirty for this one—for best results, use your fingers to tear the leaves apart and rub the dressing into the leaves. Then, just toss in crisp celery, salty Parmesan, toasted sunflower seeds and sweet dried cranberries. Recipe yields 4 side salads.
- 2 bunches broccoli rabe (about 2 pounds)
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup chopped celery (about 3 celery ribs)
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pull the broccoli rabe leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Wash and spin dry the leaves. Tear any large leaves into small, bite-sized pieces, then transfer the leaves to a large serving bowl.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast the sunflower seeds until they are fragrant and starting to turn lightly golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic and salt until emulsified. Pour the dressing over the leaves and gently massage the dressing into the leaves until they are lightly coated and the salad has almost halved in size. Taste, and add one to two more teaspoons lemon juice if it needs more zip.
- Add the chopped celery, grated Parmesan, toasted sunflower seeds and dried cranberries to the serving bowl. Toss again and serve immediately.
Make it vegan: Omit the Parmesan for a vegan salad. You might want to add some nutritional yeast, to taste, to make up for it.
▸ Nutrition Information
This post was created in partnership with Andy Boy and I received compensation for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!
how can you not love a good storm?!?! and I agree that it sounds like you got stuck in the perfect place and luckily the tornado didn’t touch down!
this sounds right up my alley! an interesting spin for broccoli rabe which I already think is delish! Can’t wait to try it!
Right?! We’re always on the same page. I love it. Lemme know how you like this salad. It’s a bold one, for sure!
I am a broccoli rabe lover, a kale salad lover, AND a garlic lover… so this was made for me! Love the greens here and the crunch from the seeds :) Pinning!
Perfect! Hope you love it, Medha!
Lisa | Garlic + Zest
Yikes! Tornado sirens? I would be terrified! Good thing you had wine! This salad looks amazing!
Nah, I’m from Oklahoma! ;) Thanks, Lisa!
Oh man…I live in Lawrence and found a couple stores that carry GDF cheeses. I can’t eat cow dairy, so this literally made my day. Thanks for the tip!
Woohoo! You’re going to love it, Anna.
Except for the celery (which I’ve hated my entire life), this salad sounds wonderful. I would probably choose to sub with either kohlrabi or jicama, either of which would add a nice crunch.
I love your storm story, and am glad it turned out to have such a good ending. Not sure I’d want to be anywhere near a tornado…
Thanks, Susan! Good idea on the subs. I don’t enjoy celery much on veggie platters, but love it chopped in salads. I grew up in Oklahoma, so I’m no stranger to tornados. :)
Does this mean broccoli rabe is the new kale? This salad looks gorgeous. And what a way to spend a tornado warning. I wish all my tornado experiences had wine, cheese, and new friends.
Ha, maybe it is! Thank you, Allyson. I wish mine did, too.
This looks delicious! I bet pomegranate seeds would taste delicious in it too! I love love love that you are using broccoli rabe! I have a total brown thumb but have decided that I am planting it as a winter crop. Markets here rarely have it, which is probably not a great indicator for my brown thumb. But, fingers crossed!! Nonetheless, excited to try this!
Kate…My favourite bitter green eaten raw.
A definite experiment…Thanks
Love your story. You won’t be forgetting that trip soon with all the weather excitement. And what a lovely way to pass a tornado warning. In the basement with wine and new people.
Thank you, Theresa!
Jessie @ Chasing Belle
I must admit I have yet to ever cook with broccoli rabe and I have seen so many yummy recipes in which you feature it! Such a shame…but I’m making it my goal to try it out! This salad looks like an easy one to start with :)
I hope you love it when you get a chance to try it!
love this!! just started a vegetarian food and lifestyle blog if anyone wants to check it out that would be great!
I love your blog Kate. Thanks for all delicious recipes and stories that comes along with them.
Love from Sweden,
Thank you so much, Eleonor! Hope you are having a lovely day.
A storm would be bad if you were left outside without an umbrella, raincoat, rainboots AND you were right next to a tree. LOL! But that’s just a worst case scenario! ;) This broccoli rabe salad looks delicious, and I love a good kale and garlic combination!
This salad is so yummy. I think I ate it for lunch almost everyday last week. It’s my new go-to salad. I can’t get enough.
I’ve been wow’ed by many, many recipes on your wonderful site (and I’m so behind in submitting my positive reviews!), but this one is noteworthy for just how far it surpassed my expectations. Broccoli rabe scares me a little bit because of its bitterness (as a vegetarian teenager, I completely turned my nose up at a beautiful broccoli rabe omelet my grandfather made me), but the composition of this salad–with the cranberries being essential, in my opinion–is perfection. Make just it as Kate instructed. You won’t regret it.
Hi I know how hard it is to please a teenagers pallet. I have a son and daughter. It so easy to grow your own and is isn’t bitter at all we even eat the flower they are so delicate, and it grows so fast. We use it in salads and stir fries. I eat is raw on my breakfast sandwich. We live in Ohio
This salad looks great, I will just b veggie parm. I am new to your blog, but I am from Wichita, KS which is pretty close to you :)
What an interesting salad — I had it for dinner with a crusty roll for the starch. Very satisfying. I do remain a C+K kale salad fanatic and that’ll be dinner tomorrow night. Kate you have raised the bar for delicious nutritious cuisine to new heights!
Such kind words, Metalmom! Thanks so much.
So I’ve been meaning to tell you I made this the other week as a side salad for dinner guests and WHOA it was so addicting! The flavors together were so delicious and the massaged broccoli rabe was a pleasant surprise!
I’m actually going to be making it as a side salad again for Mothers Day brunch this weekend! I’m sure my Mom and other family will love it too!
Oh, I hope Mom loves it as much as you do, Autumn! Thank you so much for the kind comment.
You never mention the flowerets, which look like broccali flowerets, and need to be steamed or sautéed, cooled and added to the massaged leaves. And 2 lbs.of broccali rabe, a.k.a rappini, would make way more than 4 side salads! Otherwise, the recipe is very nice.
It seemed to make four side salads for me, but it depends on how big they are. I think different companies harvest or grow different varieties than others. I’m glad you enjoyed it overall!
This looks amazing! Any suggestions for a sub for cranberries? Do you think dried figs or fresh grapes or blueberries might work? Or maybe just leaving the cranberries out?
Sure, you could try it with those! Let me know what you think.