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.