My grandmother is an incredible cook. She's that legendary dairy farm cook who raised six hungry boys, the only woman in the family who took up camping, skiing, and hunting to spend time with them. She ran the type of household where making cookies meant a massive batch of 10 dozen or so to be consumed with gallons (you think I’m joking) of whole fat milk.
For more than a decade after I finished culinary school I made part of my living making and decorating wedding cakes, and Grandma Jean’s recipes were my secret weapon. My customers raved and towering cakes held up like invincible skyscrapers. I can’t remember a thing to come out of her kitchen I haven’t loved, and I treasure a slew of childhood memories helping her braid bread dough or whip mashed potatoes to fluffy nirvana.
Her broccoli salad topped with crispy bacon is one that appears at nearly every family gathering and is quickly devoured by children and adults alike, despite its notorious principle vegetable.
So, being that the weather has been something of a dream lately and got me itching for picnics and dining al fresco, here is my healthy spin on Grandma’s classic. I wouldn’t dream of trying to trump the original, but enjoying it this way means I can plan for an extra slice of gooey chocolate cake on our next visit.
Instead of a mayonnaise and sugar-based dressing, I coat the vegetables in a tangy-sweet combination of yogurt and honey to keep with our clean-eating goals. The bacon is, at least at my house, non-negotiable, but feel free to swap it for a vegetarian option with plenty of healthy fat such as toasted hazelnuts or diced avocado.
Potluck Broccoli Salad with Crispy Bacon
6 slices natural bacon (without nitrates or nitrites)
1 medium shallot, minced
4-6 cups raw broccoli, washed, trimmed, and finely chopped
1/3 cup raw or toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbs. honey
¼ tsp poppy seeds
Generous pinch sea salt
Heat a 10” cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Chop the bacon into ¼” pieces and toss into the hot skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Drain most of the fat, leaving just a few tablespoons in the pan. Add the chopped shallot and cook another minute, until softened and aromatic.
Remove from the heat and, using a slotted spoon or metal tongs, remove the bacon and shallot to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool.
In a large bowl combine the broccoli and sunflower seeds. Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together the yogurt, honey, poppy seeds, and salt. Drizzle the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to evenly coat. Pour the salad into a serving dish and garnish with the cooled bacon and shallots. Serve. Serves 4- 6.