I first encountered cheese-as-salad-dressing at a restaurant near my apartment. Buoyed by the concept, I began to experiment at home. Would a sharper, headier cheese work in the same way? And how about something with goat cheese? This one is simple, with raw broccoli, chopped dates, sour cherries, crumbled goat cheese, and walnuts. But the dressing is anything but straightforward. It doubles down on the punchy cheese and calls in olive oil, lemon juice, and zest. I could happily eat it with a spoon. (If you know what's good for you, you'll make a double batch for marathon snack-dipping. Think: everything from stray chips to carrots, and everywhere from standing in your kitchen in sweatpants to a picnic blanket.) The salad itself comes together in only 10 minutes—so it's a make-ahead luncher’s dream. —Ella Quittner
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe was developed in partnership with Cypress Grove. —The Editors
3 as a lunch
medium to large head of broccoli
walnut pieces, toasted or raw
dried sour cherries
Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, divided into 2 ounces and 3 ounces, at room temperature
extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
lemon, for 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
On a cutting board, take the head of broccoli and cut off the florets with about 2 inches of stem attached to each. Slice these thinly (aim for between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch), but roughly—no need to spend too much time getting everything the same size or thinness. Different textures are ideal. You want about 4 cups total of sliced broccoli pieces—add to a large bowl, where we’ll build the salad. (Save the remaining stalks for another use!)
Roughly chop the dates into pea-sized pieces—you should end up with about 1/3 cup. If the walnut pieces are large, give them a quick chop, too, so no piece is so chunky that it’d be unpleasant to get in a bite. Add the dates, walnuts, and dried sour cherries to the bowl of sliced broccoli. Crumble in the 2 ounces of goat cheese.
In a food processor, blend the remaining 3 ounces of goat cheese with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon lemon rind, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, until the mixture is creamy. Pause the blending once or twice to scrape down the sides with a spatula, to ensure no cheese clumps are hanging around the perimeter. As it gets fully smooth and homogenous (this takes less than a minute), drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, until you have a dressing with the consistency of loose, thick yogurt. Taste and add additional salt and lemon juice if needed.
Drizzle the dressing over your broccoli salad and toss to thoroughly coat. This salad is excellent right away, but can also sit in the fridge, fully dressed and covered, up to three days. (And it even lasts a few extra days if you prep everything, but wait to dress it until you serve.)
Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.