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Looking for a delicious summer salad that will be devoured at your next backyard BBQ? Try this make ahead broccoli salad recipe.
It's easy, savory and healthy. Plus, your kids will be asking for seconds, so if you're trying to get them to eat more of this green vegetable, this recipe will be a lifesaver.
What is in broccoli salad?
Maybe you've never eaten a this kind of salad, and you're curious about the typical ingredients. Besides raw broccoli florets, most salads have onion, either red or sweet.
If you want a savory salad, add bacon, cherry tomatoes, and cheese. If you want a sweet salad, add fruit. Raisins or dried cranberries are the most common, but dried tart cherries, green grapes, or diced apple would also be a good choice.
Nuts are also usually thrown in at the end to provide extra crunch and protein. Almonds, cashews, or pecans are popular, but if you have a nut allergy, use sunflower seeds.
Is broccoli healthy?
It certainly is, and did you know it's also one of the healthiest vegetables? It's high in vitamin C, K, folate, and dietary fiber. It helps fight cancer and reduce cholesterol, and is excellent for your eyes.
How can I make a lighter version?
- Omit the bacon and cheese.
- Swap the regular mayo for mayo made with olive oil.
- Use Greek yogurt instead of regular mayo.
- Use a sugar substitute (honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup).
- Add a few more veggies (shredded carrots or finely chopped kale).
Do you have to cook the broccoli?
For this recipe, there is no need to cook the broccoli. This recipe is made with raw broccoli, because the dressing softens it the longer it sits. Make sure to cut the florets small for the best texture.
On the other hand, if you don't like the taste of raw broccoli, or you need it to be softer because of recent dental work, blanching the broccoli is the way to go. Just blanch it for 1 minute in boiling water, then transfer to an ice bath. Drain and cool before using in the salad.
How do you chop broccoli?
Have you ever wondered how to chop this vegetable? Yes, there is an easy chef method. If you're guilty of just hacking away at your head of broccoli, here are some chef tips to make it easier.
- Remove any leaves.
- Cut off the bottom of the stem.
- Shave off the tough outer skin on the stalk with a sharp knife or veggie peeler.
- Cut the stalk from the head.
- Cut off the florets.
- Slice large florets down the middle, then pull them apart.
What can I use the stalks for?
Don't throw the stalks away! Use the stems in a slaw, soups, stir fries, or smoothies.
How can I cut the stalks?
Below are some suggestions on how to cut them.
- Shred with a processor
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Cook and crumble the bacon. Cut up the broccoli florets, half the tomatoes, cube the Gouda, and finely chop the sweet onion.
Melt the butter in a small skillet set over medium heat. Add the slivered almonds and stir to coat in the butter.
Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the almonds are light brown, then transfer them to a small bowl.
Mix the broccoli and sweet onion together.
Whisk the mayo, sugar, and vinegar together to make the dressing. Taste the dressing, if necessary add salt and black pepper.
Pour the dressing onto the broccoli and sweet onion mixture.
Toss well to combine. Make sure every piece of broccoli is coated in the dressing.
If you are making this salad more than one hour in advance, hold off on adding the tomatoes. This will keep the tomatoes from going to mushy. Cover the small bowls of crumbled bacon, toasted almonds, and cubed cheese and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours in advance.
Add most of the tomatoes, but leave some for garnish. Cover and chill in the fridge for one hour.
Just before serving, add most of the bacon, almond and cheese. Mix well with tongs. If you made this salad more than one hour in advance, add the tomatoes at this step.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining tomatoes, bacon, almond and cheese.
Serve immediately, and enjoy!
- Want a sweet version? Increase the sugar and switch out the tomatoes for dried cranberries, dried tart cherries, raisins, or green grapes.
- Don't want to use raw broccoli? Blanch it for a softer version.
- Don't like almonds? Try cashews, pecans, pepitas, or sunflowers.
- Need to make this vegan? Omit the bacon and cheese, and swap the sugar for maple syrup.
- Want to make this a meal? Add slices of grilled chicken.
- Want to use other veggies? Try shredded carrots, finely chopped kale, or fresh corn kernels.
- Want maximum freshness? Add tomatoes one hour before eating and consume the whole salad within 24 hours.
- In a hurry? Skip the chill time.
- Tempted to use frozen broccoli? Don't--it won't taste the same and the texture would be too different.
- Don't throw out the broccoli stalk. Freeze it for soup, slaw, stir fries, stem it, or eat it raw. Coin, julienne, or chop the stem.
- Emeril Lagasse 8-Inch Skillet: this small skillet is perfect for toasting nuts.
- OXO Wooden Turner: this sturdy spoon is great for easy scraping and stirring.
- Anchor Glass Prep Bowls: we love using these pretty bowls for storing prepped ingredients.
- Set of 4 Serving Spoons: these spoons are perfect for tossing and serving salads.
Other summer salad recipes you will enjoy.
The pleasure of a 5-star review would be greatly appreciated.
Make ahead broccoli salad is an easy low carb recipe that is best for a crowd. This healthy side dish has a creamy homemade dressing that compliments the fresh cold ingredients perfectly. Serve this simple classic summer salad at your next dinner party.
For the Salad
- ½ cup bacon, crumbled, roughly 6 slices (29 g)
- 1 pat butter
- ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 6 cups broccoli florets (roughly 3 heads)
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered (270 g)
- ⅓ cup smoked Gouda, cubed (50 g)
- ⅓ cup sweet onion, finely chopped
For the Dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise (222 g)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Making the Dressing
- Whisk together the mayo, sugar and vinegar in a small bowl. Adjust the amounts of sugar or vinegar to taste. If necessary, add a bit of salt and black pepper. If you want it spicy, add crushed red pepper flakes.
Making the Salad
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until done, turning once with a fork. Drain on paper towels. Let cool, then chop or tear into smaller pieces. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced almonds, stirring frequently for a few minutes, until they are light brown. Remove from heat and put into a bowl.
- Rinse the broccoli head and stems. Remove any leaves, cut off the bottom of the stem, then peel it. Cut the stalk from the head, and cut the head into florets. To make florets smaller, cut a slice down the middle of the stem, then pull apart.
- Rinse and quarter the grape tomatoes. Cube the cheese, and finely chop the onion.
- Mix the broccoli and onion together.
- Add the dressing to the veggies and toss to combine. Add most of the tomatoes, leaving some for garnish, then toss again. Cover and refrigerate for one hour or up to overnight. Place the small bowls of bacon, almonds, and cheese in the fridge until the salad is ready to serve.
- Just before serving, add most of the bacon, almonds and cheese. Stir to combine.
- Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, then sprinkle the remaining bacon, almonds, cheese and tomatoes as garnish. Serve immediately.
- Add tomatoes one hour before eating and consume the whole salad within 24 hours for maximum freshness.
- Skip the chill time, if you're in a hurry.
- Using frozen broccoli won't taste the same and the texture would be too different.
- Freeze the broccoli stalks for soup, slaw, stir fries, stem it, or eat it raw. Coin, julienne, or chop the stem.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: broccoli salad, salad, recipe
This recipe was originally published on May 25, 2018.