A better broccoli salad starts with broccoli florets (which are blanched to make them optimally tender) and features toasted nuts, raisins, red onion and sun-dried tomatoes. (Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post)

A better broccoli salad starts with broccoli florets (which are blanched to make them optimally tender) and features toasted nuts, raisins, red onion and sun-dried tomatoes. (Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post)

Lighter and brighter, this broccoli salad delivers on flavor

You could add some crisped, crumbled bacon if its omission feels like a dealbreaker.

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.

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