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This broccoli and bacon salad is creamy, salty, nutty and made for summer days

This crunchy and creamy salad is a terrific main dish on a warm summer evening. Or make it as a side dish for your next grilling party. If you don’t want to use bacon, try serving with roasted mushrooms.  (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
This crunchy and creamy salad is a terrific main dish on a warm summer evening. Or make it as a side dish for your next grilling party. If you don’t want to use bacon, try serving with roasted mushrooms. (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
By Ann Maloney Washington Post

When you were a child, were you one of those little ones who only ate your vegetables with glee when they were served au gratin – smothered in cream and cheese?

This crunchy, creamy broccoli salad made me feel like that kid again. We happily ate it as a main dish on a warm evening because each forkful delivered the raw broccoli, yes, but with lots of goodies along for the ride.

The salad would be a suitable side dish to serve or bring for your next grilling party, too. Creamy salads made with mayonnaise can be too oily. I made my dressing with a big helping of plain yogurt (you can use full- or low-fat) and just a touch of mayonnaise.

Shredded sharp white cheddar cheese adds creaminess, too, while the red onion gives the dish a peppery bite. It gets tanginess from a splash of apple cider vinegar and a touch of sweetness from honey.

Chopped walnuts and raw sunflower seeds add flavor and protein, but you could substitute any of your favorite nuts or seeds. The bacon is delicious, but, frankly, not essential. There’s plenty of fat and flavor without it.

If you use it, stir some into the salad, but reserve a portion to sprinkle on top, so it maintains a bit of crispiness. If you don’t want to use bacon, but do want something a little smoky, try sprinkling smoked paprika on sliced mushrooms and roasting them on a sheet pan until they lose their moisture and get almost crisp. Then, toss them on top of the salad.

Creamy Broccoli and Bacon Salad

Adapted from “Easy Keto in 30 Minutes” by Urvashi Pitre (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020).

For the salad

5 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

6 cups (about 12 ounces) broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces

¾ cup (3 ounces) coarsely shredded white cheddar cheese

½ small red onion (about 2 ounces), thinly sliced

⅓ cup (a generous 1 ounce) chopped walnuts, plus more for optional garnish

¼ cup (a generous 1 ounce) raw sunflower seeds

For the dressing

¾ cup sour cream or plain yogurt

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon fine black pepper, plus more to taste

Line a plate with a tea towel or paper towel and place it near the stove.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy, about 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to the prepared plate. Discard the bacon fat or save it for another use.

In a large bowl, toss together half of the bacon, broccoli, cheese, onion, walnuts and sunflower seeds until combined.

Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream or yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper until well combined.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Sprinkle the rest of the bacon on top, with more walnuts, if desired.

Let the salad stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Note: The original recipe calls for Splenda, but we used honey.

Make ahead: The dressing can be made up to 2 days ahead.

Storage notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated for as many as two days.

If you’re not planning to eat the entire salad, add the dressing to the portion you plan to eat and store the salad and dressing separately.

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