We have a zillion heads of broccoli in the garden right now and I’m desperately trying to eat them all before they go to seed. I’ve been making scrambled eggs with broccoli, steamed broccoli with smokey tempeh crumbles and vegan caesar dressing, cold tahini noodles with broccoli and toasted sesame seeds, and this broccoli salad with all the crunchy things. It’s got crispy coconut bacon, toasted slivered almonds, puffed quinoa, and sesame seeds and is smothered in a creamy cashew honey mustard dressing. Continue reading for the recipe and some thoughts on hunger and food waste…

The garden is abundant with produce and we can barely keep up. Peas hang heavy on the vine, their pods bursting at the seams, berries plump and sag on their stems begging to be picked, greens carpet the ground with emerald leaves, and crowns of broccoli sit proudly on their leafy thrones. During these fertile summer months I often find myself overwhelmed by a sort of gluttonous lust, stuffing my face with berries by the fistful,  sloppily slurping on ice cold, perfectly ripe, honey scented peaches, and crunching on peas one after another until my stomach hurts, never pausing to appreciate my privilege. It’s hard to believe that there’s so much hunger in the world when there’s so much bounty all around me. Then I remember that the majority of agricultural land is used to grow feed for livestock or soybeans for export, the prohibitive cost of healthy food, the prevalence of food deserts, and just how much food goes to waste. It can be discouraging to think about the larger systemic issues within our food system, but I try to remember that my actions matter and to do what I can. For me that means eating a primarily plant based diet, using my spending power to support small, organic farmers and local, independent coops, and doing my part to reduce food waste by supporting local gleaning projects. We’re lucky here in Corbett to have an amazing  food pantry that collects expired groceries and imperfect produce from stores and redistributes it to local residents for a small fee. Since we moved we’ve been getting most of our groceries through this program, saving money and reducing food waste at the same time. The produce isn’t always perfect and I’m bringing home much more packaging than I normally would, but I feel good about keeping food out of the landfill and helping support a program that feeds so many in our community. Do you have a similar program in your area? I’d love to hear about other innovative, community driven approaches to reducing food waste and increasing access to healthy food. Comment below.

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Broccoli Crunch Salad with Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing
Coconut bacon recipe from The First Mess
Serves 4
1 cup coconut flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons tamari
1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cashew butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon mustard
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons puffed quinoa
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 avocado, cubed
1/4 cup fresh herbs (I used a mix of chives, mint, and basil)
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Combine the avocado oil, tamari, maple syrup, smoked paprika and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add in the coconut flakes and gently toss with your hands until the coconut is fully coated. Spread the coconut in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, and toast for 15-20 minutes, stirring half-way through, until dark golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool fully.
Combine the dressing ingredients in the container of a high speed blender and blend on high until completely smooth. Set aside.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the broccoli florets and blanch for 2-3 minutes until bright green and tender. While the broccoli is cooking fill a large bowl with ice water. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer the blanched broccoli to the ice water bath. Once the broccoli is cool, pour off the water and transfer the florets to a large cutting board. Pat dry with a kitchen towel then finely chop.
In a large bowl toss the blanched and chopped broccoli with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Just before serving, top the salad with the coconut bacon, slivered almonds, puffed quinoa, toasted sesame seeds, avocado, and herbs.