I apologize to my vegetarian friends right now: this wonderful salad is loaded with some bacon that it doesn’t really need – unless you hate broccoli, and have an unhealthy disdain for vegetables in general.
And who, pray tell, could that be?
Dear Readers, I’d like you to know that we have one such fellow in residence at Glover Gardens: the Grill-Meister. He scoffs at most vegetables, and loathes broccoli in particular. (You may have heard this before, but I struggle with it daily and so you’ll probably hear about it in these pages again.)
I’m always looking for new ways to entice His Grilliness to fall in love with a vegetable dish. I love the challenge, and have had a few successes, like these Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and Bacon-Jalapeño Jam.
And our grilled asparagus.
And a grilled vegetable salad that I concocted, which has fresh mozzarella pearls and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
But I’m still on the hunt, and the latest get-him-to-eat-a-hated-vegetable effort concerned broccoli. I love broccoli! I’m lonely for it, and don’t want to eat it just when I’m dining solo. Broccoli is for sharing.
Bacon is the Answer
Our local grocery store (HEB) has one of those in-store kitchens where they cook easy meals and try to hook you by giving samples, but I don’t usually fall for it. The process is usually more about combining pre-made stuff from jars they want to sell you than actual cooking, which takes the fun out of it for me. (I know, I know, I’m a food snob. Don’t judge.)
But this time, there was a broccoli salad, and I snatched up the recipe card as soon as I tasted it. It had bacon in it! The Grill-Meister loves his bacon, and even has a couple of bacon consumption themed t-shirts. (They could be yours – see below.)
Punching Up the Recipe
Of course I had to play with the recipe a little. I know you’re not surprised. Instead of the rub the grocery store was pushing, I used my Glover Gardens Everything Rub. First developed as the spice mixture for my barbecued pork ribs, Everything Rub quickly became a kitchen staple. The sunflower seeds in the grocery store version of the salad didn’t quite stand up to the broccoli, so I used cashews instead, and added some chopped jalapeños for a little more crunch and kick. As always, I substituted light mayonnaise. I bought the bacon jam at the grocery store, but only because I’m out of the Bacon-Jalapeño Jam from Just Pure Flavors, which is the bomb.
It was a slightly less gray day than we’ve been having here in Southeast Texas, so I used the outdoor kitchen and enjoyed the sounds of the birds while I was cooking up my variation on the bacon and broccoli theme.
The result? The Grill-Meister had two servings! (He said he “couldn’t taste the broccoli” – LOL.) After I’ve made this a few more times and he realizes he actually likes broccoli, I’ll probably dial back on the bacon, and work some other broccoli recipes into the repertoire that have fewer ingredients and let the verdant beauty and taste of this magnificent vegetable shine.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish; cooking time: 30 minutes.
- 4 slices cooked bacon, drained and chopped
- 2 1/2 cups very small broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup grated cheddar or jack cheese
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped salted nuts (I used cashews)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh jalapeños
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 2/3 cup bacon-jalapeño jam (or a jam of your choice or a savory-sweet jam of your choice)
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise or plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Glover Gardens Everything Rub, or your favorite savory spice mix
Combine the cooked bacon, broccoli, cheese, nuts, jalapeños and onions in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix the jam, mayonnaise and spice mix. Pour over the broccoli mixture and stir until the dressing is evenly distributed through the salad. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.