Have you ever tried broccoli salad? I had not heard of it before I went to a restaurant that happens to have it on the salad bar. I gave it a try and it was instant addiction. If you have never tried it, I would say if you like broccoli, give it a shot. Since the main ingredient is broccoli, you can definitely taste it. But there are several other ingredients that really add to the flavor (and yes, calories) of this salad…like cheese, dried cranberries and mayo. You could lighten it up a bit by using low-cal mayonnaise, or substituting half the mayo with greek yogurt. I like to count it as very healthy though, considering how much broccoli you get!
The traditional recipe (found here on Food Network) calls for raisins but we had dried cranberries on hand and decided to try them. Paula Deen’s recipe states the raisins are “optional”. While I subbed the cranberries, I would say definitely use one or the other. That little bite of sweetness really adds something to this salad.
I made a few other changes to the Paula Deen recipe besides the dried cranberries. I also used cooked, chopped bacon bits for the bacon in the recipe. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find cooking bacon so messy and time-consuming. This ingredient had all the flavor without the fuss. I left out the tomatoes called for in Paula’s recipe because the salad I got at the restaurant didn’t have tomatoes and I liked it fine that way. If you want to throw in tomatoes, by all means, do so.
Fresh Broccoli Salad
- 1 head of broccoli rinsed and cut into bite-size pieces
- 6 to 8 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled, or ⅓ cup of packaged real bacon bits
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese cut into very small chunks
- ½ cup red onion chopped finely
- ½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes optional
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Once you have cut the broccoli, cheese, onion and bacon (if using store bought bacon bits, this step is done for you) into small bite-size pieces, mix them all together with raisins or cranberries in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar until well combined. If using tomatoes, add to dressing mixture.
- Pour dressing over vegetable and cheese mixture and stir together.