An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Healthier Broccoli Salad With Apples and Walnuts

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Monday, June 15, 2020

Healthier Broccoli Salad With Apples and Walnuts

This take on an old favorite is healthier and fresher, and was a crowd favorite at our house


Easter this year was a weird one, wasn't it? We were all stuck in quarantine. Normally, I've ordered a special ham and have the boys' outfits picked out and bought months in advance! This year really crept up on me. In fact, I didn't even realize it was about to be Easter, until my nanny asked me what I was putting in the boys' Easter baskets. That was a Friday morning and Easter was just a few days away! I raced off to Target to get some supplies; and yet someone still forgot about making a meal. On Saturday morning I realized we'd need to put some sort of special meal together. Luckily, I had enough eggs for a simple fratatatta and I had been to Costco and had a ton (and I mean a ton, because Costco) of broccoli and apples. . In order to prevent making another trip to the store, I decided to make a meal "out of the fridge" and was pleasantly surprised how this side salad turned out! It was a great brunch side salad, but would also work for a cookout or even for some "green" on your plate, year round. Here's my (healthier) take on traditional broccoli salad, made with apples and walnuts.


Broccoli salad is delicious but I have two problems with it: the broccoli is never "soft" enough for my liking, and taking a big bite of raw broccoli is... Meh, not my favorite. The other part is that the amount of mayo used in traditional recipes is actually pretty gross/amazingly delicious/not part of my summer body diet plan. It really is a love-hate relationship I have with mayo. By far my favorite condiment; but lord, why does it have to have all those calories. Don't even talk to me about reduced fat mayo. That doesn't taste right. Nobody actually likes it. Just. No. 

So while I was combing through my fridge in order to scrape together this Easter meal, I thought hey! We have plain Greek yogurt. We have mayo. We have white wine vinegar. There's got to be a way to make a tad healthier version so that I can use up all this broccoli I just got at Costco! I didn't have cranberries. And did you know, dried fruit has more sugar and calories in it than regular fruit? Switching out fresh apples for cranberries already makes it a healthier dish. I also didn't have sunflower seeds, but I did have walnuts. And indeed, there was. Here's my broccoli salad with apple and walnuts:


Healthier Broccoli Salad with Apple and Walnuts
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1 large apple, diced into bite sized pieces
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 a small red onion, finely diced
- 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
- 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- salt and pepper to taste

Let the broccoli sit in the dressing to soften the florets, for at least several hours to overnight for a better tasting salad

Making the salad a day ahead (preferred method):
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, Greek yogurt, white wine vinegar, onion and sugar. I like to add a few "grinds" of sea salt and fresh black pepper, too. Cook off your bacon and set aside to cool before storing it to crumble and add to the salad right before serving. Add the broccoli and cheese to the dressing mixture. Cover and put in the fridge. Right before serving, cut up the apple and add it to the salad; then add the walnuts and bacon. You want the walnuts and bacon to remain crispy while the acidity in the dressing softens the broccoli.

Making the salad to serve immediately (not as good, but still good!):
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, Greek yogurt, white wine vinegar, onion and sugar. Add a round or two of fresh ground sea salt and black pepper. Blanch the broccoli (this means that you boil a pot of water, add the broccoli and let it cook for about 60 seconds, then strain the broccoli and place it on ice to cool it down. You want it fully cooled before adding it to your dressing mixture) Cook off your bacon and crumble it after it's cooled, adding it to your dressing mixture. Dice your apple and add it, along with the walnuts and grated cheese, to the dressing mixture. Refrigerate long enough to cool the whole salad down, then serve.

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This salad is great for summers, since it's chilled (and you want to keep it chilled because of the mayo, so if you're bringing it somewhere, plan accordingly!) It's perfect for a backyard cookout when you want something more flavorful than mixed greens but not as filling as a potato salad. I happen to think it goes extremely well with grilled burgers or brats, but also pairs well with a marinated chicken breast. I think it's a tad too heavy for grilled fish or shrimp, though, but that's just my opinion. Any way you decide to make it or serve it, it's an excellent side dish for summer that beats the standard salad! It also will work well moving into fall, since the broccoli is a heartier green that can hold up to the dressing and be more a more substantial side dish. Enjoy! 

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