I like my Broccoli Salad with slightly softened bite rather than a hard raw crunch, and plenty of dressing that’s not excessively mayo-heavy. The dressing is still creamy, but it’s a lightened up mayo based dressing with fantastic flavourings – and there’s plenty of it!
For an even healthier option, try this Broccoli Salad with a mayo-free Creamy Lemon Dressing or Ranch Dressing!
The mere mention of Broccoli Salad conjures up visions of giant bowls of broccoli swimming in oily mayo dressing that’s often too sweet. Just the thought makes my thighs start expanding.
Yet I cannot deny that I’m a sucker for a good Broccoli Salad with a creamy dressing. So today, I’m sharing mine. Plenty of dressing. Lots of add ins to make the salad interesting. And marinated broccoli with a softened crisp bite, rather than hard raw crunch.
A BETTER RAW BROCCOLI
I know some people have a hard no! stance on raw broccoli. I’m pro raw broccoli in salads – as long as it’s had time to “marinate” and soften slightly. It’s not so much the stems that bothers me – I actually like the crisp freshness of the stems. It’s the florets. They’re just kind of dry and crumbly when raw.
a) give the salad time to marinate in the creamy lemon dressing which slightly tenderises the broccoli. Both the acid and the oil in the dressing helps here; and
b) slicing the florets thickly rather than leaving them whole. More surface area = better marinating effect to take the hard raw edge off the broccoli.
PLENTY OF LIGHTER MAYO DRESSING
This dressing is made with a combination of mayonnaise, sour cream or yoghurt, lemon and milk, plus flavourings. The sour cream or yoghurt act as a thickener with a touch of acidity and the milk thins out the dressing, making it pourable for better coverage and so the florets soak up the dressing like a sponge. Plenty of dressing flavourings compensate for using less mayonnaise.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE I STRUGGLE WITH
This is one of those salads that is best made the day before – or at the very least 2 hours before serving.
I don’t deal with this well. I pick at it constantly straight after making it – and am always disappointed with how it tastes, and I fret that it’s not going to taste great.
Have patience my friends. Let time work its magic, let those flavours meld together, let the dressing marinate the broccoli. It’s so worth it! – Nagi x
PS If you’re in a rush, I’d recommend steaming the broccoli. Steam, rather than boil – you want to avoid water soaked florets. It will ruin the creamy dressing experience.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
RECIPE VIDEO ABOVE. Slicing the florets creates a larger surface area so the dressing tenderises the broccoli more effectively, so the broccoli is tender crisp rather than a harsh, raw bite. I also like to have plenty of dressing because dressing soaked florets is my favourite part, so rather than a mayo only dressing, I opt to make more of a lighter dressing with less mayo that's pourable and coats every piece of broccoli thoroughly. Less oil, more dressing, more flavourings!
- 500 g/1 lb broccoli florets (2 large heads, 22cm/9" diameter)
- 150 g/5oz bacon , chopped then cooked until golden
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries (or raisins, sultanas or blueberries)
- 1/2 cup almond slivers
- 1/2 red onion , finely sliced
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup Greek yoghurt or sour cream
- 1/4 cup / 65ml milk , low fat
- 1/4 cup / 65ml lemon juice (or cider vinegar)
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tsp each onion powder , garlic powder, mustard powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp dried dill
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
Cut the florets into slices no thicker than 0.7 cm / 1/4" thick.
Place in a bowl with remaining Salad ingredients.
Mix Dressing well in a large bowl - use a whisk to ensure it's all well incorporated. It will be thin and pourable - see video for consistency.
Pour all over Salad, toss well.
Cover and refrigerate overnight (minimum 2 hours). Remove from fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.
1. This is one of those salads that needs time for the flavours to meld and also for the dressing to soften the broccoli a bit. Raw broccoli is actually very crunchy and some people aren't a fan of that. But the dressing tenderises it a bit so it's tender crisp.
If you aren't a fan of raw broccoli in any form, then I suggest steaming the broccoli. Steaming is better than boiling because the florets get waterlogged.
2. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings.
LIFE OF DOZER
He can inhale a hunk of cheese in 1 chomp. And yet, he nibbles on a single broccoli floret for almost a minute, crumbling it into pieces before progressively and very deliberately eating each tiny piece. 🙄