Gourmandistan

Broccoli and bacon salad proves raw vegetables have a place in Gourmandistan

It may be a bit of an exaggeration to say that raw food has no place in Gourmandistan, but we are after all a cooking community. While Steve is more than happy to snarf up just about anything in raw form, Michelle usually likes her food a bit more done. (Once, at a three-star Michelin restaurant in France, Michelle pronounced the quivering veal marrow on her plate “raw” and refused to eat it. Whether it was actually raw, and undoubtedly it wasn’t, Steve got a double helping.) The same division generally applies to fruit and vegetables other than lettuce, radishes and such, but one of the exceptions Michelle makes is broccoli and bacon salad.

We got the basic idea for this recipe from Food to Live By, a cookbook by Myra Goodman, one of the founders of Earthbound Farm. It’s a surprisingly good and much-used book in our kitchen, though one always suspects its origins were in some PR flack’s conference room. (“Your company sells organic lettuce in plastic containers? What you need to show your farmers’ market bona fides is a cookbook!”)

The salad is a variation on an American potluck staple which can be meh, particularly if it starts with crappy industrial bacon and, well, chopped broccoli from a plastic bag. But, when made with good ingredients, there’s much to recommend. We did once try blanching the broccoli florets, but realized it was a mistake and quickly returned to enjoying the crunch and slightly blossomy bitterness of raw broccoli.

We’re still quite far from a raw food future, as we still have many, many functioning cooking appliances. But the seasons are changing, and as more local fresh things arrive, Gourmandistan will see what rawness will tempt Michelle in the coming months. Until then, broccoli and bacon salad will do quite well.

BROCCOLI AND BACON SALAD

(adapted from Myra Goodman, Linda Holland and and Pamela McKinstry’s Food to Live By)

  • 2/3 c. mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)
  • 2 TB cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 6 c. bite-sized broccoli florets
  • Several scallions or young red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 c. dried currants
  • Handful of dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • 4 or 5 slices of cooked bacon, drained and crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of salted sunflower seeds or toasted pine nuts

Whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar and honey in a large bowl.  Add broccoli, onion, currants, cherries and bacon and toss until coated. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours, turning with a spoon occasionally to make sure that salad is uniformly dressed.

Just before serving, add seeds/nuts and toss.

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12 comments

  1. I certainly always pass over traditional American salads like broccoli salad and anything with poppy seed dressing, blech, but you’re certainly right. Made properly, this salad has its place. I’m with you – I’m practically a raw food eater in the summer months when I rely on my garden, plus avocados! Salads are the best!

  2. sarahjmir

    “We’re still quite far from a raw food future, as we still have many, many functioning cooking appliances” this made me laugh so hard! btw that shot is stop in your tracks good!

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