I try not to be a high-maintenance vegetarian. You know, the kind of vegetarian who demands loudly that things be made their way, all the time, no matter who else is eating?
Not that I’ve ever met that kind of vegetarian. In fact, such a vegetarian might not even exist. But in my fertile and dramatic little mind, they do. And I don’t ever want to be one.
This broccoli raisin salad recipe reminds me of how, usually, it’s not necessary to be pushy about it anyway. Most people will go out of their way to make sure their dear vegetarian friends can eat as well as their meat-loving selves. Vegetarians: how many times have you been at a restaurant with a meat-eater and the first thing they do is scan the menu to make sure there’s a veggie option or two for you? Every time? Me too!
Last summer, we hosted a small barbecue, and a good friend mentioned she was bringing broccoli raisin salad. It’d been awhile since I had enjoyed this potluck mainstay, but I remembered bacon as a primary ingredient. No biggie – everyone else will love it, and lord knows I was going to find plenty enough to eat either way.
But then she showed up, classic broccoli raisin salad in hand – and a little bowl of chopped up bacon on the side. Meat optional?! Hey, that’s my schtick!
Naturally, that method of serving was a hit among meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Enthusiastic bacon lovers got to pile up on the stuff; vegetarians (okay, just me) could easily avoid the meat altogether.
I’m not sure who ever came up with the odd combination of broccoli and raisins, but I would like to kiss them. This stuff is classic picnic fare for a reason – it’s darn delicious, perfectly portable, and super, duper easy to whip up. As it turns out, it’s also easy to customize for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, and you know I’m all over that.
At its core, this salad is only six ingredients: broccoli, raisins, chopped red onion, and a simple creamy dressing of mayo, vinegar, and sugar.
Personally, I think a liberal addition of roasted, salted sunflower seeds is a must. Others might loathe the seeds, but they’re gaga for bacon bits. So, just like my thoughtful friend, I serve the sunflower seeds and bacon on the side.
Cherry tomato halves, feta cheese, cheddar cubes, carrot shreds, and chopped walnuts are other optional toppings that will undoubtedly please a variety of palates – high maintenance or otherwise.
Broccoli Raisin Salad Your Way (with Optional Bacon & Sunflower Seeds)
- 5 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 1 medium head broccoli)
- 1/2 cup diced red onion (about 1/2 small onion)
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes (optional)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Pinch salt (to taste)
- 5-6 slices bacon (cooked, drained, and crumbled)
- 1/2 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
- Add broccoli, onion, raisins, and cherry tomatoes, if using, to a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar. Stir in a pinch of salt, if desired.
- Pour dressing over broccoli and toss well.
- Serve with bacon and sunflower seeds in separate bowls on the side so individuals can add toppings as desired.
- Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for several hours.
This is a really good recipe. My grandma made this for get together and holidays. But I use Apple cider vinegar instead and it gives it a little more bite. I started putting in craisins add well as raisins. It made the salad a touch better. Love this salad.
Hi Janet! Apple cider vinegar sounds great. I’ve seen people use balsamic vinegar, too, but I haven’t tried it. And craisins are such a great idea – I bet they add such a pretty color. Love it!
Great recipe. I might have to try this with half mayo, half Greek yogurt. Works pretty well in other summer salad recipes and adds a nice tang!
I love broccoli salad! I love all the crunchy deliciousness. I think the sunflower seeds sound like a tasty addition!
I love broccoli salad! It’s so crunchy! The sunflower seeds sound like a great addition!
I made this, and since I am watching every carb, (I just lost 115 pounds, have 20 more to go). I used stevie instead of sugar. I also made it a little less sweet, and used low fat mayo. Tasted fantastic. I also had dried cranberries instead of raisins, but it was for a holiday potluck, and I wanted to emphasize red and green. No tomatoes, only because they did not look good at the market.
Just made this today and it is delicious. I made it without the bacon and didn’t even miss it! I added the cubed cheddar cheese, no tomatoes or sunflower seeds since I didn’t have any – will try them later though.
Good basic recipe, but never use plain white vinegar in food. There are so many types of vinegars to choose from, but white vinegar is not good to ingest, use it only for cleaning!
I love this broccoli salad.. i blanch the broccoli for a few seconds in water w a tsp of baking soda still has a nice bite but super
Bright green! Yummy
Can I substitute plain yogurt for the mayo?
Sounds great thanks
How many carbs and calories are in this recipe?
So many good recipes I want to try them all connected to try the broccoli raisin salad and it is extremely good
Since I don’t have sunflower seeds on hand, I will chop up pecans and use that instead with this recipe.