So there was this time in my life when broccoli was the devil, and I still slept with night light. I couldn't stand broccoli. If my Mom made something with broccoli (especially a casserole), I just hated it. How could one small vegetable look so hideous and infect the flavor of an entire bed of what could have been the best dinner ever? One time she hid it in my favorite au gratin potatoes and I thought I needed to move out at the age of 10. It was an abomination, and I wasn't having any of it for a second.
I see this behavior already in my almost four-year old son.
Thankfully, I can look past it, because in my adulthood, I've learned that broccoli is actually really delicious! It's refreshing, almost, to have steamed on a plate with dinner. Or even raw! Don't even get me started on how lovely raw broccoli is!
I know, I don't even recognize myself anymore when it comes to my likes/dislikes with certain veggies. Which is why, I don't stress the veggie battle with my son right now. He drinks vegetable juice, and I bribe him to take a couple bites of broccoli with the promise of a cookie after dinner, but other than that, I don't push it. Little does he know: he's going to be a broccoli-obsessed buffoon like me someday.
Let's jump into this broccoli-lover's dream of a salad, shall we?
I feel like I've been on a broccoli kick for a long time. With recipes like my Creamy Broccoli Shells and Cheese, Fresh Broccoli Salad with Apple and Toasted Walnuts, and Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli, what's not to love? But let's get back to this lovely salad - trust me, you're going to want to save this one!
We all know broccoli and cheddar are kind of in love with each other. It's kind of cute, and good news for all the cheese obsessed foodies out there. Instead of melting it into a sauce and dunking the broccoli pieces in one by one, we've skipped the melting process altogether and let that strong flavor of the sharp cheddar represent itself perfectly in little cubes in this salad. I love the way it looks! Everything else in the dish has it's own shape and flavor, and the bright orange zing from the cheddar looks just gorgeous!
Next, something weird happened to our lovely broccoli and cheddar duo: We tossed in some red onion for a tad extra crunch and flavor. I made sure to chop them super small to prevent the "too much crunch" factor. Less is more when it comes to onion, and even with the soft taste of the red onion, MUCH less is more.
Look closely... we added something to our base-trio that I think makes this dish something my husband might come at least a foot from - BACON. My sister's first and only love (just kidding, she's happily married to a giant and has a sweet little ginger baby girl). Bacon is heavenly, and crisping it up and tossing it in is what makes this dish one of my new favorites. It ties everything you see together, and adds the perfect smokey-salty taste that it definitely needed.
Lastly, the sweetness came right through with not only the raisins, but we tossed in a handful of craisins. I prefer the cherry craisins - they have a bit more zing and brightness, and sweetens up an already savory-soaked salad. It's beautiful, and the texture is actually perfect alongside everything else. I went very light on the dressing, because I'm a dry-as-a-bone salad eater, but you can double the dressing, and soak the suckers if you'd like. I just love all the beautiful colors and flavors, and a bucket of creamy dressing would kind of suffocate the life out of them, in my opinion.
I made this salad during lunchtime, and we enjoyed it a few hours later at dinnertime. We ate this alongside some juicy oven-baked chicken breasts and fresh slices of apple. Dinner should be simple and beautiful. Seeing this lovely salad on your plate for any upcoming occasion or simple dinnertime is just what the doctor ordered. Gorgeous ingredients, tasty salad, and very, very, happy tummies! Enjoy! xoxo
Fresh Broccoli Salad with Cheddar and Bacon
makes 4 side-servings
1 head broccoli, washed and cut into small florets
7 slices bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
1/4 C red onion, chopped very small
1/4 C raisins
1/4 C cherry craisins
8oz sharp cheddar, cut into small cubes
1/8 C mayo (or greek yogurt)
1 t white vinegar
1 t sugar
salt and pepper
1. Add all the salad ingredients into a large bowl (broccoli, bacon, onion, dried fruits, and cheddar). Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a small separate bowl, mix together the mayo, vinegar, & sugar. Drizzle over the salad as light or heavy as you wish. Serve immediately, or cover & refrigerate.
recipe adapted from: julia's album