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It happened by accident, as some of the best kitchen discoveries do. And it started with yet another attempt to find a way to make a green vegetable appealing to our teenage son.

His relationship with vegetables isn’t exactly love/hate; it’s more should/doesn’t. He knows he should eat them, he just doesn’t love them, so it’s easy to skip in favor of, well, usually wings and fries. (Potatoes are one vegetable he can and does get behind, naturally.)

Get the recipe: Warm Broccoli, Chickpea and Rice Salad

I used to think I could make just about any vegetable taste good to just about anybody, but I also used to believe that good things happen to good people. So naive. Now, a husband who picks every last pea from a curry and a son who views any “healthy” food with suspicion partner up to keep me humble.

Thank goodness for the accidents. This one happened when I was prepping some broccoli to go alongside the kid’s typical protein. He likes the flavor of lemon in desserts, so I decided to test how well it would go over in savory form, and made a punchy, garlicky, lemony vinaigrette. Who could resist? I was in a hurry (of course), so I whisked the dressing in a large bowl, and when the florets came out of the steamer, I tossed them right in the dressing.

Anybody who’s dressed a vinegary potato salad while the spuds are still warm knows what happened next: The broccoli, its cells open like pores during a steamy facial, absorbed the flavors of the dressing into every nook and cranny. The result went over like a charm, with the teenager — and husband — asking me to make broccoli that way pretty much every time since. I think the kid might have even, if only for a moment, realized that eating a green vegetable might actually be pleasurable if it’s cooked right.

Since then, I’ve been applying the technique to one of my other favorite warm salads: one based on grains and beans. I boil the rice in water and add chickpeas for the last few minutes to warm them up, too, and while they’re cooking I steam the broccoli over them. The flavors of the vinaigrette take just a few minutes to work their way in, and then I fold in something sweet/tart (dried cherries), something briny (olives), something crunchy (walnuts) and something grassy/herby (parsley). It’s more of a template than anything, with virtually all the elements — the type of grain, the type of bean, the starring vegetable and those add-ins — open to substitution.

The only nonnegotiable is the temperature. Dress it while everything is cold instead of warm, and you’ll miss the whole point.

I served the salad to my husband, who loved it, but I haven’t been brave enough to try it with the teenager yet. I don’t want to push my luck.

Get the recipe: Warm Broccoli, Chickpea and Rice Salad

#warm #broccoli #grain #salad #turn #vegetable #skeptics #fans

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