I must be getting old and decrepit (better than the alternative, as they say!) and for sure, I find my memory slipping a bit here and there. (What did I come into this room for is just the beginning, lol!) After I made this Classic Crazy Broccoli Salad I remembered I already have another version here on my site. That one is a lighter no Mayo version. So that’s why I’m calling this one “Classic.” (And it really is!)
In the long run, I determined you really can’t have too many recipes for broccoli salad, especially now that warmer weather is starting to hit in most places, although I had my parka on the other day when I walked Chance, it was so damp, chilly and windy! I predict that we’ll all be having a lot more outdoor gatherings this summer (hopefully) being aware of social distancing, and now you’ll have two choices. And a third if you’d like to take a peek at my Shaved Broccoli Salad with Apple & Tarragon.
About Classic Crazy Broccoli Salad:
This is exactly the salad (no riffing like in my other version) that my Mom gave me way back in the 70s. She called me up and practically insisted I make it, warning me that it was a little strange, and we laughed over the name, Crazy Broccoli Salad. I’ve since seen it called Wacky Broccoli Salad, too.
It’s Broccoli, bacon, raisins, and either sunflower or cashews, all wrapped up in a sweet, tangy dressing. All the other options you might see have been later add-ins and if you click over to my No Mayo Version of this salad, you’ll see some of them listed. But in honor of Mom (it was Mother’s day on Sunday) here’s the OG salad, just as she gave the recipe to me.
Making Classic Crazy Broccoli Salad:
I like to blanch my broccoli (just a quick steam), not enough to cook it or even enough to make it lose its crunch, but it IS transformative. It keeps the broccoli fresh, bright and takes the “edge” off it. That’s optional and NOT as Mom told me the recipe. But a few other things to know is to cut the broccoli up properly, into small bite-sized pieces. Larger pieces of raw broccoli can be difficult to eat.
This salad can be made ahead and should be made at least one hour ahead, but I wouldn’t go over several hours if you really want it to shine. The dressing has a tendency to thin a bit with time. It’s still going to be absolutely delish and leftovers are still wonderful, but for the absolute peak of perfection, don’t go too far ahead. A workaround is to add all the ingredients to a bowl, make the dressing separately and toss together about an hour before needed.
As far as the bacon, I like to bake using this method for Buffet Style Oven Bacon, but it can be diced and sauteed in a pan, instead. Feel free to taste and just the dressing as you make it; it is on the sweeter side.
Blanching the Broccoli:
What really sets my salad apart is the way I treat the broccoli. I’m not sure when I started peeling the stems and blanching the broccoli, but it makes such a difference. You’ll notice the stems in the dish and they are seriously the best part! You’ll also notice when you eat it that the broccoli seems so fresh and that’s because it’s steam blanched.
- First of all, shave the stems of the broccoli with a peeler, removing the tough outer edge, then slice the stems up to the heads thinly on the diagonal. Keep stems separate from the florets.
- Work the florets by starting the cuts on the stem ends; just cut through and pull the heads apart into bite-sized florets. The head separates cleanly with little waste, into perfect bite-sized florets.
- Blanch as directed, the stems go in first, then the florets, and watch the timing; you do not want to cook the broccoli just quickly blanch.
- Drain the broccoli into a colander, place a colander a large pan (probably the one the broccoli was blanched in) and run cold water over it until it’s completely cool, then drain completely. It IS important to drain completely.
That method takes a few minutes longer than just chopping up the broccoli but the salad will be truly amazing! It also eliminates a lot of waste because the stems are fabulous.
And speaking of eliminating waste the peelings from the stem usually go right into the fridge for my morning smoothie. See my Big Fat Green Smoothies for more information on making them….and on a budget, too!
Saving Money on Classic Crazy Broccoli Salad:
You’ll need fresh broccoli for this recipe (but keep in mind that usually, fresh broccoli is much cheaper than frozen which is 6 ounces of water to every 10 ounces of broccoli.) Watch for sales and pay attention to whether it’s is one of those vegetables that is priced by the head or the pound. Weigh it if you need to figure out the price per pound.
Raisins and dried fruit (and nuts like cashews or sunflower seeds) are often at a low before Christmas (and often have coupons). Stock up and if they’re boxed or the package is flimsy, repackage into sturdy bags. Check out what to buy and stock up on before any holiday on my post Win at the Grocers.
Bacon, before it’s recent popularity used to be dirt cheap but no longer. Usually, bacon will be on sale right before any holiday so watch for specials. Since it takes so little room, it’s an ideal freezer item. When pieces are needed for a recipe, slice through the bacon (I slice right through the package and all) the short way. The remainder can be popped right back in the freezer.
Classic Crazy Broccoli Salad
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x
- Category: Salads
- Cuisine: American
- 1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1/2 cup diced onion, red, white or yellow
- 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds or 1/2 cup cashews
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider or white vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, add the broccoli, onion, bacon, raisins, and sunflower seed or cashews. In a smaller bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients, the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, and salt.
Add dressing to the broccoli mixture and let rest in the refrigerator for one hour so the flavors may mingle. Stir just before serving.
Classic Crazy Broccoli Salad keeps for several days but is really at its peak within a few hours of mixing.
To blanch the broccoli, optional:
Prepare broccoli as directed above, shaving the stems, thinly slicing on a diagonal, then separating the florets. Keep them separate from the stems.
Bring a large saucepan with about an inch of water to a boil. Add the broccoli stems, wait about 30 seconds, and add the florets. Cover and steam for two minutes, no longer. There won’t be any noticeable difference, but trust me, this is exactly how long to steam.
Keywords: Bacon, Broccoli, Broccoli Salad, cashews, cranberries, Dried Fruit, Family Recipe, Mayonnaise, nuts, Nuts and Seeds, Raisins, Red onion, Salad, Side, side salads, sunflower seeds, Vinegar