Three Secrets to Great Broccoli Salad
Broccoli salad is one of my favorite fridge staples. Being able to open the fridge and nosh on something wholesome keeps me from going to the pantry and opening up a bag of chips.
And that is exactly what I need right now, after all the Christmas cookies and sweets I have eaten in recent weeks!
I think there are a few secrets to great broccoli salad, so let’s dive in:
Secret #1: Take the bite out of the onions with a little vinegar
A quick 10 minute soak in vinegar (or water, if you don’t want vinegar’s tang) will get rid of the pungent burn that raw red onions have.
Secret #2: When blanching the broccoli florets, season the water heavily with salt, just like you would season a pasta water.
As you will see in the recipe instructions below, the broccoli florets are cooked by blanching in boiling water for about 60 seconds. You want to season the water heavily with salt so the broccoli florets get seasoned all over during their brief cooking time.
Secret #3: After you blanch the broccoli, dry the florets very, very well.
Drying the ingredients well is one of the secrets to any good salad, really. I like to spin the broccoli in a salad spinner, then dry further with a kitchen towel. This prevents the dressing from getting watered down.
And once the broccoli is cooked and dry, it’s just a matter of mixing in your favorite ingredients. I like red onion, mixed jumbo raisins, bacon, and walnuts:
I have also seen people add sunflower seeds, grated cheddar cheese, and pecans. Feel free to get creative with your mix-ins. Enjoy!
Great Broccoli Salad
- 1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
- 2-3 tbsp good quality vinegar, or ice water
- 2 lbs broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 1/2 cup jumbo mixed raisins
- 8 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
- salt and black pepper
- Place the thinly sliced red onion in a bowl and cover it with the vinegar (or if you don’t like vinegar, the ice water). Let this soak for 10 minutes to take the pungent burn away from the red onion, then drain the liquid away from the onions.
- Bring a big pot of water to a boil, then season it heavily with salt, like you would a pasta water. If you taste a spoonful, it should taste like the ocean. Drop in your broccoli florets and cook for 60 seconds, just enough to take the raw edge off. Drain the broccoli florets, then rinse with cold water for 2 minutes until the broccoli has cooled down.
- Transfer the broccoli to a salad spinner, and spin the broccoli dry. Then dry further with a kitchen towel, to prevent any excess water from diluting the dressing.
- Combine the broccoli with the drained onions, raisins, bacon, walnuts, and mayonnaise, and stir well. Season with black pepper, then let the broccoli salad chill for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy!