Monday, August 5, 2013

Potluck Broccoli Salad

Broccoli salad. For a few years, this was my very favorite potluck dish. Every potluck seemed to have one of these, and there was never enough. Sometimes it has raisins, sometimes dried cranberries, sometimes crushed ramen noodles with the Oriental seasoning packet mixed into the dressing. Usually it has a sweet mayonnaise vinegar dressing, or sometimes a vinegar-oil oriental one. One thing all the versions have to have is bacon! Today, I knew it would be the perfect accompaniment to the roasted lemon-pepper chicken I was making for our Sunday family dinner.
Both my daughters commented that they had not had the broccoli salad for a long time. Probably because they are about 10 years out of the sports circuit and haven't had any team potlucks to attend. I learned how to make this salad from a recipe in my girls' softball recipe book they had compiled one year for a fundraiser. 

We received the nicest, crisp green broccoli in our SLO Veg box this week that would be fabulous for this salad. The heads were still young, not over-bloomed, and so very tender for the light blanching required here. I have made this salad before with completely raw broccoli, but I think I prefer the three-minute blanching which brings out more flavor and allows the dressing to be absorbed better into the vegetables.

Broccoli is diced, then blanced in boiling water for 3 minutes. Plunge immediately into chilled water.

The salad ingredients include broccoli, raisins or dried cranberries, red onions and green onions, sunflower seeds and bacon. I like to use roasted, salted sunflower seeds, the kind you snack on, in this salad simply for the salt and the crunch. The seeds and the bacon give a perfect amount of saltiness and savoryness to balance out the sweet dressing and make this dish a potluck favorite. It's always the first dish to go!

Onions and raisins are added into the broccoli, then the salad is dressed about 2 hours before serving. Just before serving, toss in the sunflower seeds and crumbled bacon and watch it all disappear.
I started out with a simple dressing of 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons of white vinegar. Then I had to mess with it some. I rhought it was too sweet, so I added 1 couple of tablespoons of sour cream and a splash of lemon juice. I also had some poppy seeds, and since this is pretty much the base for a poppy seed dressing, I added a couple of teaspoons full of those. I had some raisins on hand, the kind that come in a little snack box. Three of those boxes proved to be the perfect amount, about 1 cup. I cooked four slices of bacon on paper towels in the microwave and then hid them in the frig where Taylor and Lee wouldn't find them. I wanted to make sure I had them two hours later to crumble into the salad, not provide them with a pre-dinner snack! The bacon and sunflower seeds are mixed into the salad just before serving.

I served dinner with roasted lemon-rosemary chicken breasts that were so fantastic. I just plucked two big bunches of rosemary from my outdoor plant and rinsed it off, then laid in in the roasting pan. I quartered an onion and two lemons, squeezing the juice over the chicken. I had 6 bone-in chicken breasts for 8 people. Then I drizzled on some olive oil, seasoned it with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper and let the chicken roast in a 350 oven for an hour and 15 minutes. Each breast was really large, so I halved them and served them on a platter. It was all so fragrant that I forgot all about taking a picture. But everyone ate it up!



1 C mayonnaise
1/3 C granulated sugar
3 Tbs white vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 C sour cream
2 Tbs poppy seeds

5 C fresh broccoli, blanched for 3 minutes
1 C red onion, diced
3 green onions, diced
1 C raisins or dried cranberries
1 C sunflower seeds, roasted and salted
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Here are two variations on Broccoli Salad recipes: Trisha Yearwood has a recipe on her site, and there is another one of SLO Veg. Sometimes you just have to search for one that suits your tastebuds and calls for ingredients you have in your pantry.

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