July 8, 2013

Broccoli salad with cheddar, cranberries, and sunflower seeds

Bowl of broccoli salad.

Broccoli salad is a summer picnic favorite. I especially love one full of crunch and flavors like this broccoli salad with cheddar, cranberries, and sunflower seeds.

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My husband and I just enjoyed a few days in Wisconsin. We went there to see the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Since my husband and I both work in the environmental field, we've both wanted to visit this place for some time. 

While our ultimate goal was to see the natural areas, of course we made time for some foodie-related destinations. We visited a brewery, the National Mustard Museum, and, of course, a cheese shop. The Madison area is full of local foods and we loved it. When I got home from our 11ish hour drive though, it took a couple days to recover and get back into a cooking mood.

We both were craving home-cooked food again. One salad that I've always enjoyed is broccoli salad -- raw broccoli with bacon, cheddar, red onions, and a sweet and tangy mayo dressing. While I love that version, I saw this one that included cranberries and sunflower seeds and was inspired to try my hand at a slightly jazzed-up version of this classic salad. 

First thing's first: I needed to make my salad with ever-so-quickly blanched broccoli. I do like raw broccoli, but I much prefer it still crisp, with some of the rawness removed. Second, I swapped some of the mayo for plain yogurt and used honey instead of sugar. Plus, there wasn't a ton of dressing weighing the salad down. 

These changes plus the addition of a few more add-ins created a salad that was more popular than the ribs we were eating it with! Not only is this a great side dish, but it's also nice for lunch on its own. This recipe will make enough for about 4-6 people as a side.  

Serving bowl of broccoli salad.

Broccoli salad with cheddar, cranberries, and sunflower seeds
2 heads of broccoli, florets cut into bite-sized pieces (about 7 cups)
sea salt
3 tablespoons mayonnaise 
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 small-medium red onion, halved again and thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese 
1/3 cup dried cranberries
8 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, cooled, and crumbled
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, plus more for garnish

Optional: Blanch the broccoli in salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water for about 1 minute. Drain well and put in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you may leave the broccoli completely raw.

In a large bowl whisk together the mayo, yogurt, vinegar, honey, a couple pinches of salt, and a couple grinds of black pepper.

Stir the broccoli, onion, cheddar, and cranberries into the dressing until well-combined. At this point, if you aren't going to eat the salad right away, I would cover it and refrigerate it until serving. Then I would stir in the bacon and sunflower seeds to keep them from getting too soggy. Or, if you are eating it right away, go ahead and stir them both in. Top with a sprinkling of more sunflower seeds. 

Close-up of  Broccoli salad with cheddar, cranberries, and sunflower seeds.


  1. Wisconsin sounds like a fun place to see! The salad looks awesome. I love all the flavors and the healthy swaps you made.

  2. This looks really similar to a salad my mom used to make when I was little! Very tasty :)

  3. I love this beautiful and tasty salad!

  4. Delicious, healthy and a perfect summer salad! How can you go wrong with that?!

  5. This looks awesome :) I love new salad variations. Such a great lunch recipe for me :)

  6. This looks delicious and healthy, I’d definitely be trying this out sometime for sure as I’d like to get some of this into my family’s dite.

  7. I make a similar salad but like the addition of the cranberries for color and sweetness.

  8. Amy, this is such a great looking salad! I love the flavors you combined!

  9. I love that this broccoli salad is low on mayo! Sounds majorly tasty.

  10. So healthy and full of good flavors!!

  11. I had no idea there was a National Mustard Museum! I gotta go! ;-) Great salad - you've included some super flavors in this. Thanks for a fun recipe.

  12. I never had a broccoli salad before! I need to change that as this looks insanely good! What a nice mix of flavors.

  13. Nice mixture of ingredients in this unusual salad, Amy. Like that you've cut the richness of the mayo with a little yoghurt. Coming to my plate very soon!


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