Now that I know what happens when a creamy Broccoli Cauliflower Salad and a hot bacon dressing-style salad collide in a single bowl, I may never be able to separate the two again.
This post is sponsored by Freschetta.
Side dish splendor!
Amish broccoli cauliflower salad was a staple of many church potlucks growing up.
As with most Midwestern “salads,” it was more about the bacon, mayo dressing, and cheese than it was about the vegetables.
No offense to The Church Ladies intended, but considering how scrumptious, fresh, and sustaining broccoli and cauliflower can be (see this Broccoli Cranberry Salad and this Curry Roasted Cauliflower Salad for evidence), drowning their tasty potential with mayo felt like a missed opportunity to create something delicious AND nutritious.
Healthy Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
A revamped healthy broccoli cauliflower salad with no mayo feels like just the thing for us to be eating right now.
We’re in the midst of winter, so our meals—yes, even our salads—need to be hearty.
Further, unlike more seasonal-sensitive recipes like this Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad (which makes me miss summer with a longing passion), broccoli and cauliflower taste great year-round, so you won’t feel like you’re suffering through sub-par produce.
The produce, however, is only half of the story here.
In keeping with the Midwestern comfort recipe that inspired it, this salad sports a rich, creamy dressing.
I skipped the mayo and sour cream entirely, swapping it for nonfat plain Greek yogurt, which has a similar body and tang.
Still, however, I felt like my dressing was missing something. The answer turned out to be (as it so often is) BACON.
Rather than thinning the dressing with olive oil, I used a spoonful of the bacon drippings. OUTRAGEOUS.
The drippings give the dressing an intense smokiness and amplify the taste of the bacon.
Then, the crispy bacon pieces themselves give saltiness and a little crunch. It’s magnificent.
A Make-Ahead Side for Easy Meals
In addition to the whole fresh/crispy/smoky/creamy situation that has me smitten, this broccoli cauliflower salad is also a meal prep marvel.
It lasts a few days in the fridge, meaning you can make it ahead, then pull it out on demand for a fast, healthy side to go along with any mains.
Lately, I’ve been pairing this salad with a Clarke household favorite: Freschetta Gluten Free Pizza.
Contrary to popular food-blogging belief (and if you hold any lofty notions of me, this will surely dispel them for good), I don’t cook dinner every night (GASP!).
Often mealtime is a scramble, and in those instances, I rely on store-bought favorites.
Frozen pizza is one of those go-to dinners that Ben and I both love and that I feel good incorporating as a part of a balanced diet.
Here’s how I keep our pizza nights well-rounded:
- I serve the pizza alongside a generous serving of vegetables.
- I make sure those vegetables taste FABULOUS—otherwise, they feel like a punishment, instead of an enjoyable part of our dinner.
- While roasted vegetables are often our go-to (this Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, and Oven Roasted Potatoes are all fantastic), I also love rotating in fresh side dishes I can make ahead, like this broccoli cauliflower salad.
- I am picky about my pizza. I like Freschetta Gluten Free because the crust is preservative free (and SO CRISPY), it uses only real cheese, and of course, because the taste is on-point. This is not your average frozen pizza.
This week, do your future self the delectable favor of prepping this broccoli cauliflower salad in advance, popping it into your fridge for safekeeping, then serving it alongside a quick-and-easy frozen pizza.
That’s a meal I’ll happily show up for any night of the week!
How to Make Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
This salad brings freshness and balance, but it still feels substantial.
The crunch of the veggies alongside the creamy, savory bacon-infused dressing will have you looking forward to it for as long as it’s in your fridge.
For us, it never lasts long.
- Broccoli + Cauliflower. The base for our healthy salad. Both broccoli and cauliflower are low in calories while being rich in fiber and vitamins.
- Pecans. Toasted pecans are a delicious, crunchy addition to this salad. Their healthy fats make it satisfying.
- Bacon. Bacon takes this salad from tasty to an undeniable crowd-pleaser. Once mixed in with the dressing ingredients, the bacon adds smokiness to every bite.
- Dijon Mustard. Tangy goodness that pairs wonderfully with the bacon.
- Sherry Vinegar. Adds much-needed brightness and acidity to the salad. Red wine vinegar would also work well here.
- Greek Yogurt. Using Greek yogurt in dressings is one of my favorite healthy swaps. It packs protein into the dish and adds a spectacular tangy flavor. No mayo needed.
- Honey. For a touch of natural sweetness.
- Green Onions. Green onions add a nice freshness and crunch.
- Dried Cranberries. Chewy, sweet, and delicious jewels that add beautiful color to the salad.
- Cheddar Cheese. Cubes of creamy sharp cheddar cheese are a throwback to the Midwestern original. They add pleasing texture and like the pecans, up the salad’s satisfaction factor.
- Blanch and drain the broccoli and cauliflower. Toast and chop the pecans.
- Cook the bacon. Leave some of the bacon drippings in the skillet, and drain the rest.
- Stir in the mustard, vinegar, and spices. Let cool.
- Whisk the yogurt, honey, and salt together.
- Whisk the bacon mixture into the yogurt mixture.
- Add the remaining salad ingredients to the broccoli and cauliflower.
- Pour the dressing over the top, stirring to coat. ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover salad in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Give leftovers a good stir before serving them to redistribute any dressing that has sunk to the bottom.
Meal Plan Tip
Cut and blanch the broccoli and cauliflower up to 1 day in advance, storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Toast the pecans up to 1 day in advance and store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Skillet. Great for cooking the bacon and pecans in this recipe.
- Mixing Bowls. This set has multiple sizes for mixing different ingredients.
- Whisk. This easy-to-use whisk keeps me from making a mess.
Broccoli and cauliflower, you’ve never been so exciting!
Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
- 1 pound broccoli cut into small (1-inch) florets (about 1 medium head)
- 1 pound cauliflower cut into small (1-inch) florets (about 1 very small or ½ large head)
- ½ cup pecan halves
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon diced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 medium green onions thinly sliced (about 2/3 cup)
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 4 ounces ¼-inch diced sharp cheddar cheese (I like a white cheddar) about 2/3 cup
- Blanch the vegetables: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (I like to do this when I'm prepping the vegetables, as it takes my water a long time to boil). Place a large bowl of ice water beside it and keep a colander handy. Add the broccoli and cauliflower florets to the boiling water. Let cook for 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, immediately transfer to the ice bath to stop the vegetables’ cooking. Drain into the colander, shaking off as much excess water as you can. Set aside.
- Heat a medium to large skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans in a single layer and let sit for 15 seconds. Stir and toast, until the pecans are crisp and smell fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir often to avoid hot spots and do not walk away. Immediately transfer to a cutting board. Roughly chop.
- Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the bacon pieces in a single layer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Drain all but 1 ½ tablespoons bacon fat from the skillet (leave the bacon in the skillet).
- Return the pan to the stove and turn off the heat. Working quickly, stir in the Dijon, vinegar, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and pepper. Let cook in the warm skillet for 30 seconds. Remove from the hot burner and set aside to cool for 2 minutes.
- To a small mixing bowl, add the Greek yogurt, honey, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk to combine.
- Scrape the bacon and all of the drippings in the skillet with it into the bowl with the Greek yogurt. Whisk to combine.
- Shake the broccoli and cauliflower once more (you want to remove as much water as possible so that the salad isn't soggy, then transfer to a large mixing bowl (to save dishes, I wipe out the bowl I was using for the ice bath).
- To the bowl with the broccoli mixture, add the green onions, cranberries, cheddar, and chopped pecans.
- Pour the bacon dressing over the top, then stir gently to combine. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you like. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve (this tastes even better after it's sat in the refrigerator for an hour or so). Just before serving, give the bowl a big stir to reincorporate any dressing that has sunk to the bottom. Serve cold or at room temperature.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover salad in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
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I am sharing this post in partnership with Freschetta. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you!