Well Father’s day has come and gone but it left some lovely left overs in our house…bacon! So I decided to take advantage and make Broccoli Salad. This has become one of my favorite dishes, but we haven’t had it in years as bacon and almonds are not staples in our house. I just love how the hearty crunch of broccoli is complimented with salty bacon, and the sweet tang of the cider dressing. Mmmm. I was introduced to this dish from a food prep course in college. Yep, same class I learned about baking bacon. 🙂
We only had red onion on hand (normally we have yellow) left over from the Shish Kabobs that christened the Hubster’s grill. Man am I glad! I had gotten in the habit of using yellow and I forgot how amazing this is with the stronger flavor of the red. It turned out so delicious I may have splurged and bought more bacon and onion to make it for our family’s 4th of July get together. 😉 At said BBQ I received the best testament I have for this recipe from my cousin. ‘I don’t even like broccoli, but I like this’.
So getting down to the recipe…I start out with the bacon. Since I had thick sliced on hand I only used 2 slices, but if you have the regular ones you might want to up that to 4 or 5. Typically I already have bacon left over from a different meal (I have to plan this or it definitely gets eaten!) but if I need to cook it the same day I’ll bake it first. While that’s going I grab my 2 medium-large broccoli heads, wash, trim and then chop them up–including the stems. Until I had this dish I never knew the stem was really usable and in my opinion, so delicious! I love how mellow and smooth a flavor it is, and yet it’s still broccoli! I use the stem in everything now, as opposed to when I used to throw it away. Such a waste, I still feel bad about my ignorance.
Somewhere in the middle of chopping I’ll get the bacon out of the oven and place on my paper towels to cool/drain fat. You want them crisp enough to crumble really easily.
When the broccoli is chopped I place the pieces into my largest mixing bowl as it needs a lot of room later when mixing the dressing in. Next I’ll chop 1/4 of my onion and possibly my bacon if it’s cool enough. I’ll then add them along side the raisins, and almonds (some recipes call for walnuts, believe me almonds are 1,000 times better!). Once all the dry ingredients are in (except your bacon if it’s still cooling) I’ll get going on the dressing.
I’ll typically find the combination of my glass liquid measuring cup and silicone scraper (some call this a rubber spatula) the easiest to use for the whole process of making the dressing as they stick the least to each other. First I’ll measure my mayo in there and then pour in the sugar and mix. When it feels gritty but cohesive I’ll pour in the vinegar and then mix it really well. The gritty feeling should go away and instead leave a smooth, creamy dressing in its place. I like the apple cider vinegar best as it complements the raisins so well, but red wine vinegar turns out all right as well.
Once the dressing is ready to go I crumble the bacon (if it was too hot to handle earlier) and add it to the salad bowl prior to the dressing. Once all the salad ingredients are in it’s time to pour the dressing in. I’ll use a scraper to get as much out of the measuring cup as possible. After pouring in the dressing I mix it with the broccoli mixture as thoroughly as possible trying to get the whole thing coated. It can be a pretty sticky job but someone has got to do it. 🙂
Once mixed I like to chill it for about an hour. Most recipes call for 4-6 hours to soften the broccoli, but I like mine with a little more crunch to it. When comparing this to other recipes you may also notice this has a smaller dressing to salad ratio, that’s also because I like some crunch to it when I first eat my salad as well as any left overs. The typical amount of dressing ends up leaving any left overs in a pool of dressing that makes it soggy. I’ve found this is the right amount to be tasty the first time you eat it and avoids ending up with soggy left overs–which no one wants to eat. I really don’t like soggy broccoli, can you tell?
Recipe by Somethin Outta Nothin
2 medium to large heads of broccoli
2-5 strips of bacon (depending on thickness) optional
1/4 cup raisins (regular or golden)
1/4 cup almonds, sliced optional
1/4 cup onion, chopped (1/4 an onion-red preferred)
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup white sugar
1 T apple cider vinegar (most vinegars work except balsamic)
Have you made an interesting salad lately?