Some foods just taste better after hanging out in the fridge for a while. Stews, soups, curries — after melding overnight, these dishes develop deeper flavors than they had when first cooked on the stovetop. Normally, this sort of effect is limited to wetter, braised, or stewed dishes; meals that need to retain their crunch, especially salads, tend not to last long as leftovers and go limp over time.
However, some salads were made for fridge-melding, and a good broccoli salad is one of them. Crisp, toothsome, raw chopped broccoli mixed with a medley of other crunchy veggies, fresh herbs, and toppings like dried fruit and nuts or seeds, all blend together with a light and bright dressing to form a salad that only gets better and more complex as it rests in the refrigerator. This is one salad you can make ahead with no issue. In fact, it'll taste even better for lunch the next day.
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The Science Behind Letting It Meld
The phenomenon of foods tasting better after sitting in the fridge isn't just one of taste, but one of science. As noted by BBC Science Focus, a meal that sits in the fridge continues to gelatinize and marinate as the hours pass. For stews and other meaty dishes, this means the meat has more time to break down and tenderize; however, veggie-heavy dishes can also benefit in similar ways. Flavorful liquids (such as dressing) absorb into the starches in the vegetables, imparting seasoning and taste over time.
This process doesn't work as well when it comes to delicate vegetables like greens. While lettuce and other leafy veggies can absorb flavor, they also give up moisture as salty or acidic dressings leach water out of them. This causes them to wilt, and the salad as a whole to become watery. Raw broccoli, which is a much hardier vegetable, can stand up to being marinated in acidic dressings overnight and won't become mush in the process.
The Benefits Of Letting Broccoli Salad Meld
By allowing your next broccoli salad to meld in the refrigerator overnight, you're not just letting the flavors marinate and soak into the veggies. The extra flavor and textural improvements that come from letting the crisp veggies sit in the dressing are just a few of the many benefits.
In making the salad ahead, you're also doing yourself a major favor in terms of meal prep. Not many salads keep well in the fridge, especially not as long as a broccoli salad will. A properly stored broccoli salad will keep for up to three days, so make a large batch and store individual servings for lunches for an easy way to enjoy delicious veggies every day of the week.
Its longevity also makes this salad a perfect contender for picnics or potlucks. Rather than throwing a dish together the morning of the event, you can pre-make this salad and have it ready to bring along and eat whenever it's needed. Soon it'll become your go-to salad, both for enjoying at home and at parties.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.