Broccoli Salad with Bacon
A simple broccoli salad is never out of place at a casual gathering. It’s the perfect thing to offer to bring to a potluck or picnic, to add to a barbecue or an al fresco menu, or to round out a buffet.
You may have noticed (as I have) that the presence of bacon in a salad turns some members of the crowd from salad-disinclined to salad enthusiasts. Make sure to keep some of the bacon to the side for sprinkling on the top. This not only keeps the bacon crunchy, it gives it pretty good curb appeal.
Vegetarian Broccoli Salad
Should you wish to skip the bacon, you will have a vegetarian broccoli salad.
Using All of the Broccoli in Broccoli Salad
The inside of the stems is actually one of my favorite parts of broccoli – it’s tender and has a lovely smooth texture, and depending on how you cook it (or not, as in the case of this salad), it can be really appealing in its own right, not just as the part of the vegetable that holds up the crown!
Just make sure to trim the bottom of the stalks, and peel the thick, tough outer layer of the stalks, especially if they are fat stalks (the skin will be thicker the larger the stem is). You can use a vegetable peeler or a paring knife for this purpose.
How to Chop Broccoli
For the stems, I find it easier to slice them into planks, then stack and slice the planks into thin sticks, then cut those sticks crosswise into small bits.
For the crowns I also start by slicing them with a large, sharp knife crosswise into “slices” which will fall apart as you cut, but that’s fine. Then I start by giving the pile of sliced crowns a rough chop, and continue chopping until the pieces are all about 1/2-inch or smaller. Let the weight of the knife, assisted by you non-dominant hand placed on top of the knife, help you along.
Raw Broccoli Salad
Most recipes that feature broccoli call for it to be cooked: steamed, roasted, sauteed, etc. In this salad recipe the broccoli is left uncooked, which makes for a really crunchy salad. You want to make sure to chop the broccoli fairly fine; smaller pieces will be easier to eat, and also absorb the dressing better, which will soften them a little.
If raw broccoli feels a bit too intense for you, you can definitely steam or saute the florets for a bit to soften them before chopping the broccoli and using it in the salad.
Broccoli Salad: Beautiful, colorful, substantial, crunchy, and a perfect make-ahead salad for all kinds of occasions.Tweet This
Make Ahead Broccoli Salad
This salad is kind of engaging on many levels. It’s beautiful and colorful, it’s quite substantial, and it’s a great make-ahead salad, as the flavors meld while it sits for a bit, and it has sturdiness that leafy green salads just don’t have.
You’ll want to let the salad sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving, which makes it a great salad to get done before guests arrive, or at least earlier in the day. You can also refrigerate it for up to 2 days (if you are planning to make the salad ahead, add the bacon and the pepitas and toss just before serving).
What to Serve with Broccoli Salad:
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For the Honey Balsamic Dressing
- Make the Dressing: In a medium bowl or pitcher combine the mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper.
- Make the Salad: Place the broccoli in a large bowl. Add the cheddar cheese, onion, dried cranberries, the pepitas, and half of the bacon. Pour about 2/3 of the dressing over the salad and toss well to combine. Add the remaining dressing if you like, or pass it on the side so that people can drizzle a bit over their salads if they like.
- Let the salad sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving, or refrigerate it for up to 2 days (if you are planning to make the salad ahead, add the bacon and the pepitas and toss just before serving).
The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.
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