It’s the height of summer and with the sunshine comes those almost romantically long days speckled with the smell of fresh cut grass, the sight of a trail of ants along the sidewalk feasting on the melting puddle that was once a half-eaten popsicle, the sounds of children laughing, their hair loose and sun-kissed. Summer is perhaps my favorite time of the year and this broccoli salad is something I think commemorate that. It’s vibrant, it’s colorful, it’s rich and indulgent and bursting with flavor, and much like those thrilling days of summer, you’ll never want it to end.
To make our broccoli salad we’re going to start off by making our dressing so that it has some time for the ingredients to meld together. To make it we’ll need some whole milk, homemade mayonnaise, lemon juice, stone ground mustard, chopped chives, grated garlic and spices included salt, pepper, finely blended raw cane sugar, dried oregano, and onion powder.
Add all ingredients for the dressing into a bowl and mix it well and set it into the refrigerator until our salad is ready to be dressed. How simple is that?
To make our salad we’re going to need some broccoli florets, cubed butternut squash, shredded red cabbage, shredded cheese, strips of bacon, salt, pepper, diced red onions, chopped pecans, extra light olive oil, and dried cranberries. Though the pecans and cranberries are optional they add a wonderful texture and tartness to the salad which really helps to round out all the flavors so don’t skip them if you have them on hand!
Toss your cubed butternut squash in the extra light olive oil and season it with salt and pepper before placing it onto a baking tray. On another baking tray place your bacon. Set both into the oven and bake until the squash is fork tender and the bacon is crispy and well rendered.
While your bacon and squash are cooking, blanch your broccoli florets by boiling them and then placing them into ice water to stop the cooking process. Soggy broccoli is not what we’re after for this salad. Once they’ve cooled down, drain them and set them on some papers towels or on a clean dish towel to dry off.
With your prep done, all that’s left to do is assemble your salad! To do this begin by adding your shredded cabbage, diced onions and chopped pecans into a bowl and tossing it all together. Next, toss in your broccoli florets, shredded cheese, butternut squash, dried cranberries, and finally top it all with your dressing. Toss to coat everything evenly with your dressing. Top with your chopped bacon (and a tsp or two of the rendered bacon fat if you’d like a little extra flavor, I won’t tell 🤫) and gently fold it in, being careful to not overmix your salad.
Serve at room temp or chilled and enjoy! Looking for some inspiration beyond the dishes at your backyard BBQ to serve with your broccoli salad? my Parmesan-Herb Crusted Chicken is a great option to serve as two pair up and complement each other perfectly!
That’s it for this post, I really hope you are able to capture the summer spirit with this vibrant broccoli salad that has a little touch of everything and a simple throw-together dressing that is spectacularly delicious.
Broccoli Salad - A Perfect Summer Side
For the Dressing:
For the Salad:
- 14 oz broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup butternut squash (cubed)
- 1 tbsp extra light olive oil
- ½ tsp Himalayan salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ cup red cabbage (finely shredded)
- 1 tbsp red onion (finely diced)
- ¼ cup pecans (halves or roughly chopped) (optional)
- ¼ cup cheese (cheddar or Colby)
- 2 tbsp sugar-free dried cranberries (optional)
- 3 strips thick cut bacon (chopped)
For the Dressing:
- Place all the ingredients for the dressing into a bowl and mix well to combine. Set it aside to rest so that the flavors can meld together.
For the Salad
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Place the cubed butternut squash on a baking sheet and coat in the light olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.
- Place the thick cut bacon on a rack with a drip tray below it.
- Bake both the butternut squash and the bacon for 15-20 minutes until the squash is fork tender and the bacon has crisped up and rendered. Be sure to flip the bacon over 10 minutes through. Once cooked, remove and set aside both the squash and bacon to cool. Roughly chop the cooled bacon crosswise into strips.
- While the butternut squash and bacon are baking, blanch the broccoli by bringing 6-8 cups of water to a rolling boil and dropping the broccoli in. Let the broccoli cook for 1-2 minutes before removing and immediately placing the florets into an ice bath. Once cooled, drain and pat the florets dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to remove any excess moisture.
- Assembly: In a large bowl, combine the red cabbage, red onion, and chopped pecans in a bowl.
- Add the cooled and thoroughly drained broccoli florets, cheese, the cooked and cooled squash, cranberries, and dressing. Toss lightly to distribute the dressing.
- Finally, top with the chopped bacon and lightly toss once again to distribute the bacon. Do not over mix..
- Serve immediately or place into the refrigerator for up to five days and enjoy chilled.
- You can add in any additional veggies of your choice from peppers to carrots to cauliflower. Feel free to experiment!
- Alternatively, you can season the squash with the salt and pepper and place the strips of bacon over the squash so that the bacon fat renders and drips directly onto the squash.
- Shocking and blanching the broccoli allows the broccoli to soften so it's not as fibrous. It also helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the florets while the ice bath ensures that the broccoli retains its vibrant green color. If you prefer, you can also steam the broccoli.
- You can add in the rendered bacon fat along with the dressing if you like for an extra kick of richness, and saltiness.