I spent my weekend eating tacos, dreaming about eating tacos, and toting around the most fantastic pink flamingo pool float nine dollars can buy.
Obviously, it was very well spent. Also, obviously, I did not show a tremendous amount of attention to vegetables. Well, unless pico de gallo counts, which of course it totally does.
All of that to say, I think it is time to get back in my own kitchen and make something green.
I have had a lot of unimpressive broccoli salads in my time. In fact, up until a few years ago, I had completely given up on raw broccoli.
However, as it turns out, with the proper accoutrements and a generous sprinkling of bacon, a mere head of broccoli really can be coaxed into becoming something spectacular.
We are sprucing up our childhood nemesis with black cherries, crumbled feta, walnuts, shallots, and, of course, bacon.
The key to transforming raw broccoli from dry, crumbled grass to potato-chip-addicting is time.
After all the delicious accompaniments have been tossed in and the dressing drizzled, this salad is going to need some quality time in the fridge.
This resting period gives the broccoli a chance to soften and soak up our wonderful bacon vinaigrette.
While waiting periods can be tiresome and easy to ignore, this step makes this salad ideal for picnics and potlucks as it can be made well in advance.
Just look at all those colors and textures!! My heart just skipped a beat.
This rich, bacon vinaigrette lends a little richness to this healthful situation.
You can take as many liberties as you like when it comes to the mix-ins.
If you are not a fan of walnuts, pecans would be a delightful substitute.
Just don't skip the black cherries. The sweetness and texture that they lend to this salad is perfection.
Because this salad is so hearty, I really love it just as a meal in itself. You could even throw in some grilled chicken for a little extra protein if you liked. Super simple and surprisingly filling!
Monday night dinner is served.
Black Cherry Broccoli Salad with Sweet Bacon Vinaigrette
serves 6-8 as a side, or 2-4 as a meal
8 rashers bacon
1 large head of broccoli, or two small
1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 medium shallot, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a cooling rack on top.
Lay the bacon out onto the cooling rack and bake for 15-20 minutes; until the bacon is crisp. While the bacon cooks, prepare the salad.
Remove the stems from the head of broccoli and roughly chop the florets into small, bite-size pieces.
Place the broccoli, cherries, feta, walnuts, and shallot in a large serving bowl.
When the bacon is ready, carefully remove the cooling rack from the baking sheet and set the bacon aside to cool just slightly. Lift up the corners of the foil and drain the bacon drippings into a large jar.
While the bacon drippings are still hot, add soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, sea salt, and mayonnaise. Use a fork to whisk rapidly until the mixture is smooth.
Cook's Note: It is important that the dressing be made while the bacon drippings are still hot so that the brown sugar can dissolve.
Pour in vegetable oil, fit the jar with its lid, and shake vigorously.
Chop the cooled bacon and sprinkle over the broccoli mixture. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
Cook's Note: This salad will last for up to two days if refrigerated.