I’ve always been very tactile with the food I cook. Using tongs or a spatula is important for dealing with hot items, but if I’m preparing something cold or room temperature, I’m more likely to use my fingers and hands in one way or another.
It goes back to how I ate as a kid (and let’s face it, still do sometimes). I would eat almost everything with my fingers: salad, rice, mashed potatoes. My mum would try to get me to eat with a utensil, but there was something about feeling the food with my fingers before eating it. Another element of the dining experience that can’t be replicated with a fork or spoon.
As I got older, I heard about how much of Northern Africa, the Middle East and India tend to eat with their fingers. Pinching rice, curries or tagines with a flatbread and eating directly. No wonder I had a growing affinity for those cuisines!
Today I wanted to do a salad with broccoli but didn’t want a blanched or steamed broccoli, I wanted it raw. Florets of raw broccoli are okay in a salad, the crunch and pleasing bitterness are great, but I thought, “What if I pinch at the floret with a thumb and forefinger and break them into the tiny individual ‘flowers?'”
It works great and each little bit pinched off added to a simple salad act much like a seasoning. The occasional tingle of broccoli “essence.” Beautiful.
Crushed Broccoli and Tomato Salad
4 medium tomatoes, chopped coarsely into 2cm/1″ chunks
2 tsp “crushed” fresh broccoli florets (crushed as described above)
2 tsp Onion-Garlic Gouda cheese, finely shredded
Spread one tomato’s worth of tomato chunks on each of four plates. Sprinkle the crushed broccoli florets over the tomatoes lightly, like a seasoning. Shred the onion-y cheese over the top. The cheese acts like a seasoning thus eliminating the need for extra salt or pepper. Feel free to use any flavourful cheese to “season” the salad. Serves 4.