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Lost Italian: Detox after the holiday season with this creamy broccoli salad

This creamy broccoli salad is easy to assemble. Once prepared, the dish keeps for up to five days in the refrigerator. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum1 / 3
Small broccoli florets are tossed with a variety of healthy ingredients to create a salad balanced in nutrition, flavor and texture. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum2 / 3
The creamy lemon pepper dressing is made with non-fat plain Greek yogurt to keep the salad healthy and low calorie. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum3 / 3

When it comes to food, there are only two ways I enter a new year: either by giving in to the bitter January cold with the most indulgent comfort food recipes (like Giovanni’s Comforting Bolognese from 2017) or by opting to give myself a much-needed P.H.D. – also known as the Post-Holiday Detox.

While broccoli qualifies as a prime P.H.D. ingredient, I like to think that it can also provide a bit of comfort, especially after all the rosettes, beef wellington, sparkling zabaglione and sparkling wine I consumed in December. My body is practically begging me to kick off this new year with a nutritious, yet delicious, Creamy Broccoli Salad.

When I’m really committed to eating well, I’ll often prepare a big-batch salad on Sunday so that I have several servings ready to enjoy throughout the week.

These powerhouse salads always include a good variety of vegetables, as well as additional ingredients like beans and nuts for added protein -– in this case, I’m using chickpeas, sliced almonds and sunflower seeds.

The ingredients in this salad have been selected primarily because they will hold up well over several days, even with a creamy dressing. Moreover, they all have great nutritional value and complement the broccoli in flavor, texture and color. And, to ease you into a healthier lifestyle, many of the ingredients can be purchased in packages ready to use, including the broccoli florets, matchstick carrots, shredded red cabbage, grated cheddar cheese and even the pomegranate seeds.

The amounts given in the recipe are just suggestions –- you can add more or less of any ingredient, as desired. Broccoli is one of the healthiest foods on the planet and a great veggie to embrace as part of a healthy eating regimen. This cruciferous plant is low in calories and packed with nutrients that help to decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, while boosting the body’s energy, immunity, digestion and even one’s complexion.

And, when combined with rest of the ingredients, there is enough ammunition in this salad to give your body just what it needs after the holidays.

I toss the salad with a Lemon Pepper Yogurt Dressing made with plain Greek yogurt as the base. Creamy, tangy and wonderfully versatile, you can find plain Greek yogurt in whole fat, low-fat and non-fat varieties.

Because it’s the start of the new year, I am uncharacteristically opting for the non-fat variety, something I rarely ever do with dairy products. However, I’ve found Greek yogurt to be an exception to this rule because it holds up well in both texture and flavor, even without the fat. And skipping the fat in the yogurt means I can add just a touch of fat to the salad, in the forms of cheddar cheese, which pairs so well with broccoli, and extra-virgin olive oil.

Easy to make, delicious and bursting with nutrition, this Creamy Broccoli Salad is an excellent way to give yourself some love and usher in good health this year. Happy New Year!

ARCHIVE: Read more Lost Italian columns and recipes

Creamy Broccoli Salad with Lemon Pepper Yogurt Dressing

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 12-ounce package of broccoli florets, stems removed and cut into smaller, bite-size florets

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

¼ cup sunflower seeds

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

1 cup carrots, matchstick style

½ cup pomegranate arils (seeds) or dried cranberries

1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, thick grate

Lemon Pepper Yogurt Dressing

2/3 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, add more as needed

1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

½ teaspoon hot sauce (like Tabasco)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

3 green onions, green part only, diced small

Directions: Make the dressing at least one hour, or up to 2 days, in advance of preparing the salad.

Place all the ingredients in a Mason jar — except the green onions — and shake vigorously until fully combined (a food processor can also be used). Taste and add more vinegar, lemon juice, seasonings, etc. as desired.

Add the diced green onions and refrigerate for at least an hour before using. (Marinating the green onions will mellow their heat and add flavor to the dressing.)

To assemble the salad: In a large bowl, add the broccoli and half of the dressing. Stir until broccoli florets are evenly coated.

Add the remaining salad ingredients, reserving some of the almonds and pomegranate arils to garnish, if desired.

Add the rest of the dressing, starting with half and adding more as needed; stir to combine. Any leftover dressing may be refrigerated for at least 3 days.

May be served immediately, but for best results refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Store salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

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