Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Old Fashioned Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Pecans

Old fashioned broccoli salad, made with red onion, celery, carrots, raisins, nuts and bacon, and a mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar dressing. Served here on leaves of romaine lettuce.

Old Fashioned Broccoli Salad

This poor ole broccoli salad has been languishing around for me to showcase it on the blog forever. Very patience little green veggie. Truth is, while The Cajun won't even give it a fair run, broccoli is one of my favorite veggies. I love to eat it most just simply steamed to be honest, though I've been known to fry it on occasion too. What can I say?

I adore this salad a lot too though and I can certainly make a meal of it. One thing is for sure - broccoli salad has been a southern potluck and party favorite for as long as I've been around, and it'll be a great addition to your Labor Day cookout too.

Broccoli Salad is most often served with a sweetened, basic mayonnaise and vinegar dressing, but I love, love it with a tangy old fashioned boiled dressing. Never tried that? It is super easy to make, and so delicious I'd be willing to bet you and your guests will find yourselves drawn to it too.

Intended mostly as a dressing for vegetable salads, cabbage slaws and potato salads, it's fairly thick, sort of like a homemade mayonnaise, but can easily be thinned down with a little milk to use on good ole garden salads too. I hope you try it sometime, but I've included the more traditional dressing, just in case you prefer that.

Now a lot of us southerners are guilty of literally drowning our salads like this broccoli salad in mayonnaise dressings, and don't get me wrong, I sure love my mayonnaise. I generally prefer dressings be applied with a bit of a lighter hand for salads like this though, so that the salad is the star and not the dressing. If you use the boiled dressing, make an extra batch and thin it down a bit for the table, because I think you'll find everybody will reach for it.

Many make this salad with purely raw broccoli, but I am not one of them, preferring to blanch the broccoli. Long enough to take away some of that harsh rawness, but not so long as the broccoli loses its natural, beautiful color. It certainly makes it a bit more palatable and just easier to eat. Perfectly good served all on its own, this broccoli salad is also great when served over a bed of shredded lettuce and garnished with a little bit of chopped tomato and bacon. Try it sometime - its just delicious! Here's how to make it.

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Recipe: Old Fashioned Broccoli Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Inactive time: 1 hour | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings


For the Dressing:
  • 3/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning or cayenne pepper, or to taste, optional
For the Salad:
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 bunch of raw broccoli
  • 1/2 cup of chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup of chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 8 slices of bacon, fried crisp, crumbled and divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

For the dressing, whisk ingredients together until well blended and sugar is dissolved; set aside. Prepare dressing and set aside. Plump the raisins by placing them into a bowl, covering with hot water and letting stand for about 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside. Chop broccoli into florets, discarding the tough stalk ends. Blanch in boiling water for about 1 minute, then plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process; drain well and let cool.

Transfer the broccoli to a large serving or storage bowl, add the onions, celery, carrots, raisins, nuts, and half of the bacon; toss to mix. Pour dressing over the broccoli mixture, add salt and pepper,and gently toss;taste and adjust. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, longer if possible, to let flavors marry. Garnish with remaining cooked bacon and serve.

Cook's Notes: Substitute Old Fashioned Boiled Dressing for the traditional mayonnaise and vinegar dressing. Can also substitute 2 (12 ounce) packages of frozen broccoli florets for the raw. Place in a colander until thawed. Do not blanch. Though sunflower seed meat is traditional (use about 1/4 cup), any other nut will also do, so use your favorite, such as chopped walnuts, chopped pecans or sliced, chopped almonds. I love pecan in this salad. Toss in 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar, if desired right before serving. Substitute dried cranberries for the raisins for a different change. Broccoli salad can be served as a side dish, alone, or on chilled salad plates over shredded lettuce or lettuce leaves, garnishing each serving with the remaining bacon and some sliced cherry tomatoes, if desired. May also add in 2 apples (Gala or Honeycrisp recommended), cored and chopped, right before serving.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on August 31, 2011
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  1. We love broccoli salad around here, too. I do use raw broccoli, but cut it up finely which seems to help cut the raw taste. We also like replacing the raisins with red grapes sometimes and use toasted sunflower seeds. You're right about seeing it on southern tables especially at gatherings. We have it at a bunco, shower, holiday at least a few times a year. And everyone I know puts their own spin on it. : )

  2. I LOVE broccoli salad. This one sounds delicious. I MUST try that dressing. Never heard of it!

  3. I love broccoli salad with Vidalia Onion Dressing!

  4. I wonder if this salad is as popular in other parts of the country as it is here. It sure seems like a "traditional" southern dish, doesn't it? Thanks for your version - you've started the latest craving! Beautiful photo, too.

  5. I love the idea of the grapes!!

    And the Vidalia onion dressing Eva - perfect!!

    Thanks Katie!

  6. Check spelling...Ramon Noodle Salad might make some folks think you are drenching the oriental noodles in taco sauce...enjoy your blog..

    1. @Anonymous, check package, please. It is spelled Ramen. I enjoy these noodles as a (late night, late morning) snack. Work a rotating 12 hour shift. Couple minutes in the microwave, feet kicked up, then off to bed. Be up in time to fix nice breakfast or supper for my husband.

  7. That salad looks delicious! I definitely want to try it, but would leave out the raisins.

  8. Yum, Yum, Yum and absolutely perfect! Love it!

  9. LOL sorry for the typo but thanks for letting me know! Guess that's what happens when you work into the wee hours of 2:00 a.m. in the morning! ;)

    Nancy, raisins are traditional, but absolutely optional of course. Enjoy!

    Thanks for stopping by Robyn - good to see you!!

  10. I adore this salad and we enjoy it lots over here in Georgia! Delicious!!

  11. Favorite we love it up here in the mid-west Iowa. Like to use dried cranberries, kids don't seem to like raisins. We use sunflower seeds.

  12. Yummy love this i must say i always have it with ranch dressing, but love the sound of your dressing, which sounds close to what i put on my potatoe salad and i blend in the eggs yolks too of hard boiled eggs.

  13. My boyfriend's mom makes it with craisins, sunflower seeds and shredded Parmesan. It's to die for! I always eat way too much of it.

    1. The sunflower seeds are actually most traditional though it's good with other nuts & dried cranberries are a great add-in. I actually like them in regular garden salads too. You're right, it is easy to eat too much of this salad, but then, can you really eat too much??

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  14. Can't wait to make this - just got back from store because broccoli was on sale. But I am curious on something. Why discard the stalks?
    When they retired to Tonapah AZ, my late dear dad-in-law took us out into a broccoli field that stretched as far as eyes could see. He told us of seeing migrant workers cut off part of the stalks, peel it, cut what was left into sticks, eating them as they went along. He demonstrated on the closest leftover stalk: the inner stalk is positively sweet and tender. Then 7, our daughter devoured hers. But ya gotta peel 'em because that top layer is tough and bitter. He used his penknife, I use the potato peeler.

    1. Oh yes, you can certainly use them - just have to peel them all down like you say!


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