owning summer, and a recipe: broccoli salad

Summer is slipping by, faster than should be allowed. My children start their school year on August 20th. On that day, we will be the proud owners of a third-grader and a kindergartener. And for the hordes of us whose lives revolve around the school year, that day will be our first day of fall.

Time to break out the sweaters and boots? Oh, no. Not yet, dear friends, not even close.

The Florida weather gods have ensured that we cannot ignore the summer, even when we prefer to pretend that fall is just around the corner (on August 20th!). There is not a smidgen of cool, crisp weather to be had. The stifling heat, often accompanied by unpredictable mosquito attacks, has banished me from my beloved front porch – and back porch, too, for that matter. I’ve taken up jogging again (it never seems to stick), and each morning after running in 95% humidity this week, I feel like a sponge with asthma.

So, while I’m eagerly awaiting the cooler weather to come, I’m determined not to let this last snippet of summer sneak by me. A vacation is in order, one last summer fling. We’re soon headed to spend some days playing in the sugary white sands of the Gulf coast. There will be boogie boarding, sandcastle building, kite flying, wave jumping, game playing, book reading, and eating, lots of eating. I’m already envisioning platters of fried green tomatoes, spicy shrimp with creamy grits, and plenty of freshly caught fish (grilled or fried, doesn’t matter) – and all of this accompanied by icy- cold beverages of one ilk or another.

I’m going to own these last days of summer, folks. They’re mine.

*   *   *   *   *

Summer begs for cold salads, don’t you think? In case you agree with me, and I think you do, I have one for especially for you.

In this salad, broccoli florets are blanched, quickly cooked for just a minute in boiling water and then plunged into an ice bath, so the cooking stops, the color remains bright green, and the texture stays firm. Each forkful of salad is accented with sweet golden raisins and salty bits of bacon.

This is the salad you should take to that last summer picnic you’ve been planning. Or that Sunday afternoon church potluck. Or your family reunion luncheon you’ve been debating whether to attend.

Trust me. I would never steer you wrong.

Yield: Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Broccoli Salad

You can make this salad up to 6 hours in advance. Or, if you're like me, you can prepare all the ingredients (chop the veggies, cook the bacon, blanch the broccoli) the day before and toss them together with the dressing shortly before serving. Either way, the salad is a breeze to put together.

Ingredients:

5 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound broccoli florets (approximately), cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 cup diced sweet bell pepper (red, orange, yellow, or a combination)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 large shallot, minced

Directions:

1. Cook bacon in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel lined plate.

2. Blanch the broccoli: Bring a large pot of water to boil. In another large bowl, prepare an ice bath with equal parts water and ice cubes. Add broccoli florets to boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon and place in the ice bath immediately to cool. Drain the broccoli again and dry the florets by spinning in a salad spinner or by laying them out on several paper towels.

3. Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Add broccoli, bell pepper, raisins, pine nuts, and shallot to the bowl with the dressing, and toss to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as needed, then sprinkle with the cooked bacon. Chill until ready to serve.

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10 Responses to “owning summer, and a recipe: broccoli salad”

  1. 1
    DessertForTwo — August 8, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious. You never steer us wrong :)

    Enjoy your days :)

  2. 2
    Nelly Rodriguez — August 8, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

    Sweet raisins and salty bacon? Over super healthy broccoli!? Might as well call me a vegan! ;)

  3. 3
    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — August 9, 2012 @ 10:39 am

    Enjoy your last few days of summer! Our schools have already started their year with students returning on August 6.

    I’ve been making a similar broccoli salad with raisins and bacon for many years. It’s always a hit, isn’t it?

  4. 4
    Paula — August 12, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    Like Lana, I too have been making a very similar broccoli salad for many years and it is always a favourite at gatherings. My recipe may not be as healthy as yours as it calls for grated cheddar and I always add lots of that ;)

  5. 5
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — August 12, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

    I’m holding onto summer for a bit longer… and then I’ll drop it as soon as it gets old (hasn’t happened yet).

    Love this salad so so so much. I bet the bacon is just fabulous in it. Oooooooh… now I’m hungry.

  6. 6
    Family Foodie — August 13, 2012 @ 11:46 pm

    I can remember when my fourth started kindergarten. It was so bittersweet. Enjoy this school year! Those days are so very special. I love this recipe and can’t wait to try it!

  7. 7
    megan @ whatmegansmaking — August 14, 2012 @ 8:44 am

    I love broccoli salad, and it always makes me think of summer. This look so good :)

  8. 8
    Rachel Cooks — August 15, 2012 @ 8:17 am

    I can’t even imagine my daughter going to school but I’m sure I will blink my eyes and it will be here! Scary. I love this broccoli salad–especially all that bacon piled on top!

  9. 9
    Lola — August 15, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

    Made…sans the pine nus (just because I didn’t have them) and added some shredded bag Mexican cheese…also didn’t bother to cook the broccoli..didn’t need it. It was great, thanks for the inspiration.

  10. 10
    Beth (OMG! Yummy) — August 16, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

    Our fall snuck in even sooner as my YOUNGEST daughter is at high school orientation already!

    So good for you for owning that last bit of summer, especially while the kids are young, carefree, and not stressed out trying to get their voluminous amount of summer reading done before the first school bell rings!

    And I love the idea of an easy-to-prepare salad especially if it involves bacon!

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