Tasty Tuesday – Broccoli Salad
If you’re from the States, and you’ve ever been to any sort of potluck meal (church picnic, work carry-in, neighborhood barbecue, etc.), chances are you’ve had broccoli salad. I’m going to also assume the kind you’ve had is the most common type (in the Midwest, anyways) – broccoli, raisins, lots of bacon, onion, and a dressing made of straight mayo, apple cider vinegar, and lots of sugar. Sound familiar? Probably. Taste good? Definitely.
But, I still like it better my way. 🙂
I’m a big fan of taking things I know, then not only changing them to my tastes, but also making them healthier and fresher, too. That’s how my version of broccoli salad came about. Every time I’ve made or brought it somewhere, it has been met with good reviews and well, it’s perhaps my favorite thing to eat at a barbecue (or for dinner even in the middle of winter).
Wanna make it? I’ll tell you now, since this is another Sara-style recipe, I’m basically just going to give you a guideline for what goes in it without precise amounts. I always just eyeball it and it works every time. But, don’t let that put you off. Try it. Play with it. Make it, then put it in the fridge for an hour, taste, and adjust from there. Really, it’s not that scary. Just do it.
So, what’s in it…
- To make a regular-sized mixing bowl full – what I usually do for a picnic – I start with 2 heads of broccoli about the size of my fist (because that’s what I can get here), and a softball-sized head of cauliflower. Wash and chop them both up into small, bite-sized chunks. You can even chop up some of the stems, too, if you want to add more crunchy pieces.
- Next, a couple handfuls of RED grapes, halved or quartered, whichever way you like better and depending on how big they are to start. It’s important to use red grapes, NOT green, as the sweetness of the red ones is what helps eliminate the need for adding any sugar to the salad as you continue.
- Finely dice up about half of a red onion (little purple shallots will do just fine in a pinch, if that’s what you’ve got on hand). Also, cook and crumble/chop up, pat dry, and cool about 3 or 4 slices of bacon (that is more than enough, believe me – depending on the size and flavor intensity of the bacon, I sometimes even use just 2), and throw all of that into the bowl with the grapes and veggies.
- Get some plain, sliced, unsalted, roasted almonds, and toss in a handful of those. If you don’t have them, you can use sunflower seeds just as well – but, I think the almonds are better. 🙂
- If you’ve got some shredded sharp cheddar on hand, put a pretty light handful – meaning not very much, just enough to add a pop of color and a little salty bite – of that in, too. (Sorry, you’ll notice none in my photos today, because cheese is harder to come by here.)
- Grab a handful of dried cranberries, and add those to the bowl. You can also use raisins, if you like. You can even use both, which I often do. I really like the sweet-tart bite of the cranberries best, though.
- Now, toss it all together so it’s nice and pretty, and get ready to put on the dressing. It really is quite simple. Add just a couple of spoonfuls of Miracle Whip to the top of the bowl (the tangy-ness of Miracle Whip is key in balancing the sweet and salty between the other ingredients, without having to add any sugar to your salad – however, if you really don’t have any, you can use regular mayo… but, it won’t be the same 🙂 . Squeeze on a bit of lemon juice. Add a few cranks of fresh cracked black pepper. Then, stir away!
You can add more of the dressing and juice as needed, but be careful not to make it very thick. Actually, leave it a little bit drier than you think you should. Why? Because after stirring it around, you need to let it chill for about an hour. During that hour, the juices from your red grapes will seep out into the dressing, and the vegetables will soften, making the salad become a bit creamier on its own. The flavor of the bacon, though there’s not much in it, will also incorporate itself into the dressing (which is why you don’t need to add a lot in the first place) as it sits. If, after an hour, you think it’s still too dry, then add another spoonful and another squirt of juice until it’s to your liking. Really, if you like it, then it’s already a success!
So, now do you see why I like my style even better than the other also yummy, yet more common, version that’s out there? You don’t need to add any sugar, as your sweetness comes from things already in the salad. There’s much more variety, and good things, adding more vitamins, good-for-you-stuff, and more flavor. And, heck, it’s got a lot more color!