Broccoli salad tossed with a creamy yogurt dressing. This side dish is topped with sunflower seeds, red onion, cranberries, crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese for a savory and sweet combination.
This easy broccoli salad recipe makes the green cruciferous vegetable the star of the dish. Broccoli is loaded with health benefits, so take advantage of its nutritional superpowers. The bite-sized pieces are first blanched and then quickly chilled to make it easier to chew while bringing out its natural sweetness.
The dressing is lightened up with high protein Greek yogurt mixed with red wine vinegar and honey for a sweet and tangy combination. It’s the perfect summer salad that can be prepared ahead of time for a potluck.
Blanch and shock
Pre-cooking the chopped pieces of broccoli using the blanch and shock method makes the vegetable more tender and sweet. When the broccoli is raw, it has an extremely fibrous, chewy, and sulfurous taste. A quick 1-minute plunge in boiling water softens the thick stalk and brings out a more mild flavor.
To ensure that florets stay vibrant green and crisp-tender, immediately add them straight to very cold water until chilled. You can skip this step if you prefer the raw taste or short on time, however, I suggest to chop the broccoli into smaller pieces.
How to make broccoli salad
- Blanch broccoli florets in boiled salted water for 1 minute.
- Chill broccoli in an ice water bath and then drain.
- Cook bacon in a skillet until crispy and then chop.
- In a large bowl combine broccoli, onion, bacon, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and cheese.
- In a small bowl whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, water, mustard, pepper, and salt.
- Serve broccoli salad with creamy yogurt dressing.
Easy broccoli salad dressing
Nonfat Greek yogurt is the base, mixed with red wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and a small amount of homemade mayonnaise to add a touch of creaminess to the dressing. It’s luxurious, tangy and sweet. The dressing is drizzled and tossed with the broccoli mixture. It’s amazing!
Tasty toppings like sharp cheddar cheese, smoky bacon, diced red onion, crunchy sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries add layers of texture and flavor. Switch up the type of cheese like other semi-hard varieties like smoked gouda, mozzarella, or provolone. Add in fresh fruit like apples, pears, or peaches for extra crunch.
Make it ahead of time
Once the head of broccoli has been chopped up and blanched, it can be stored for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. I make a tray of oven-roasted bacon each week, which can be refrigerated for a week and then chopped up and added to the broccoli salad.
The dressing can be made 3 days ahead. Toss it up to an hour before serving, or serve the dressing on the side so guests can add as much as they’d like.
Serve this with
Blanching makes broccoli more edible
Fresh broccoli is difficult to eat, but blanching the florets in hot boiling water for just 1 minute brightens the color and softens the pectin in the cell walls without becoming mushy. Immediately cooling in ice water stops the cooking process to prevent overcooking.
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- 3 quarts water, divided
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 4 cups ice cubes
- 1 pound broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 slices bacon
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
- ⅓ cup red onion, ¼-inch dice
- 2 ounces sharp cheddar, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- In a large saucepan add 2 quarts (8 cups) of water and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil.
- In a medium-sized bowl add 1 quart (4 cups) cold water and 4 cups ice.
- Add broccoli florets to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute.
- Immediately transfer broccoli to the ice water bath until cool, 5 minutes. Drain the broccoli florets very well.
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes on each side.
- Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined sheet pan to drain. Once cooled chop the bacon into smaller pieces.
- In a large bowl add broccoli, chopped bacon, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, red onion, and cheddar cheese.
- In a small bowl make the salad dressing by whisking together Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, honey, 1 tablespoon water, dijon mustard, black pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt. Taste and season as desired.
- Drizzle some of the salad dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve salad with additional dressing on the side.
- I recommend using Fage nonfat Greek yogurt because it has a neutral flavor and not too sour.
- Apple cider vinegar can be substituted for red wine vinegar.
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