There is a certain broccoli salad that’s been popular at summer picnics and pool parties for decades. Variations abound, but it typically has both sweet and savory elements, a nutty crunch, and a rich, creamy dressing. It also typically happens to contain more bacon and mayonnaise by weight than broccoli, and often a lot of sugar, almost as if mocking the word “salad.”
This recipe achieves a similar taste in a much better-for-you way. It starts with broccoli florets (which are blanched to make them optimally tender) and features toasted nuts, raisins and red onion — just like the classic. But instead of a sugar-sweetened, mayonnaise-heavy dressing, Greek yogurt, mixed with mayonnaise and sweetened lightly with honey, provides a lusciously creamy base in a lighter, more healthful way. And instead of bacon, chopped sun-dried tomatoes add a savory, salty element.
You could add some crisped, crumbled bacon if its omission feels like a dealbreaker, but this way the salad is vegetarian, and acts a fresher tasting counterpoint for any accompanying grilled meats.
Better broccoli salad
5 cups bite-size (about 1-inch) broccoli florets (about 15 ounces)
¼ cup unsalted hulled sunflower seeds
½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup raisins
3 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed, or vacuum-packed and rehydrated in warm water)
3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill a mixing bowl with water and ice cubes.
Add the broccoli to the pot; once the water returns to a boil, cook for about 2 minutes, until the broccoli has softened slightly but is still bright green and crisp. Drain and transfer immediately to the ice-water bath to cool (and help preserve its color). Drain the broccoli in a colander until it is dry.
Toast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Transfer to a dish to cool.
Stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the broccoli, raisins, sun-dried tomatoes and red onion, tossing gently to incorporate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 3 days.
Stir in the toasted sunflower seeds just before serving.
Makes 4 servings (makes about 5 cups). Nutrition per serving: 260 calories, 8 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 190 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 11 grams sugar.