Monday, 21 September 2009

Broccoli Salad with Bacon, Cranberries & Onion

Do you know this salad? It was quite popular when I was a young adult, in the early '80's. I suspect it was an invention of the 1970's "health food" movement, which took the charmingly naive view that vegetables were healthy, but fat and sugar were what tasted good, and so created a number of dishes requiring the metabolism of a race-horse to digest, but which had vegetables and whole grains, and so were "healthy". Carrot cake was a prime offender in this catagory as well. Ah me. Reality has turned out not to be quite so simple.

Anyway, I looked up a bunch of versions of this recipe, and they all seemed pretty similar, including the fact that many of them called for 1/2 cup of sugar in the dressing. Now, while I do think a touch of sweetness is required here to balance out the onion, that is just wretched. I took it out and replaced it with a bit of apple butter, which also adds a bit of a subtle tang, and which is plenty of sweetness for my taste.

This salad was a popular one for pot-lucks. It does well made in advance, and in fact it's best if you can do so. It's quite simple and doesn't have a huge, long list of ingredients, but it is a bit fiddly.

6 servings
1 hour prep time - an hour or two to rest

Broccoli Salad with Bacon Cranberries and Onion
Make the Dressing:
1/3 cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons apple butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
OR wedges of lemon
salt & pepper to taste

Blend the above ingredients together in a large salad bowl. When adding salt, keep in mind the bacon; and adjust according to how salty it is.

You can put in a little lemon juice, or if you prefer you can leave it out, and pass lemon wedges to be squeezed over by the consumers of the salad.

Make the Salad:
2 medium-small heads of broccoli
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
150 grams (1/4 pound) bacon
1/2 of a medium-small red onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)

Wash and trim the broccolis, and peel the stems. Cut them into quite small pieces; I break the broccoli into florets and them chop them with a large knife. Put a pot of water on to boil and blanch them for 2 or 3 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain well once cool.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sunflower seeds and toast them, stirring constantly, until they are mostly browned. Turn them out onto a plate to cool.

Chop the bacon, and sauté it in the skillet until quite crisp. Drain and let cool.

Peel and chop the onion finely.

Add the broccoli, onion and cranberries or raisins to the dressing and mix well. Cover and set in the fridge for 1 to 24 hours, to allow the flavours to blend. Just before serving, mix in the sunflower seeds and bacon bits. If you think there will likely be leftovers, you may wish to pass them separately, so that they will not go soggy as the salad sits.

If you like, pass with some wedges of lemon to squeeze over.


Joanne said...

From what I've heard, the 70s were quite an interesting time. 1/2 cup sugar!!! That's ludicrous. It sounds like you transformed this into a delicious meal though!

Ferdzy said...

Well, the boomers were all young and had the metabolism of racehorses still... now look at 'em. (Me included, unfortunately.) And yeah, I make desserts that don't have half a cup of sugar in them.

Sophie said...

what an excellent healthy & superb tasty seasonal salad!!