That a sizzling grill works
wonders for meat is no surprise.
But chef Dan Kluger always has been
more interested in what it can do for
produce. And when he tested this out
on basic broccoli, he ended up creating a runaway hit for his restaurant,
New York City’s Loring Place.
As he recounts in his cookbook, “Chasing Flavor,” Kluger was on vacation in Montauk, lounging poolside with friends and family. As dinnertime loomed, his thoughts turned to the broccoli in his farmer’s market haul from earlier that day—and inspiration struck.
Throwing it on the grill transformed the broccoli, yielding crispy, charred florets that beautifully contrasted with the tender yet toothsome stalk. “Some gets a little crunchy, some gets really creamy deep inside,” Kluger says. “It just really works well to have this stand in for a protein, specifically something like a steak.”
The rest of the salad came together in a similarly laidback, improvised fashion: “There wasn’t a whole lot of stuff in the pantry,” he recalls. “We just happened to have some pistachios with us for snacking on in the car.” He sautéed the nuts in olive oil, creating a rich, pistachio-infused base for a citrus vinaigrette, adding fresh herbs and chilies as a finishing touch. The result: a crowd-pleasing dish that balanced the bittersweet caramelized flavors of the charred broccoli with the vibrant vinaigrette.
The dish soon found a place on the menu at Loring Place, known for its reverent approach to vegetables, and received a shout-out in The New York Times. Its current incarnation includes a citrusy aioli to pump up the richness, along with radishes for earthy, peppery crunch. “We try and hit these peaks and valleys of the dish,” he says. “Sweet and sour and spicy. The soft, the crunchy, the buttery—each one of these things adds another element.”
At Milk Street, we loved Kluger’s bold, balanced flavors. Echoing the summer vacation simplicity of his original dish, we opted to omit the aioli and instead doubled down on the citrus in the vinaigrette, incorporating both orange and lemon juice and zest. A scattering of jalapeños, mint and radishes provides fresh flavor. Best of all, the broccoli charred just as nicely in a stovetop grill pan as it did on an outdoor grill.
Vacations may be fleeting, but this dish has staying power.