Have the sticks of butter been flying off the shelves in anyone else’s kitchen lately? In the name of balance, today I have a Broccoli Cranberry Salad for you. It’s the perfect way to sneak a little green onto your holiday table in a way that a) feels decadent enough to merit a spot at a once-a-year feast and b) won’t get you kicked to the back of the buffet line for bringing a green vegetable to a holiday gathering.
This Broccoli Cranberry Salad is a play on the one my aunt used to bring every year to our Christmas dinner. It’s a little bit naughty (ahem, bacon), a little bit nice (see also: bacon), and the festive red-and-green colors look beautiful as a part of any holiday spread.
About This Healthy Broccoli Salad
My aunt’s original broccoli salad recipe called for a creamy mayo-based dressing, but I opted for a lighter vinaigrette-style dressing instead. It keeps the salad nice and crunchy (I find that creamy-style dressings tend to make the broccoli salad become mushy as it sits), and it makes the recipe more of a healthy broccoli salad too, if that’s something you are after.
Even if “healthy” is not something you are seeking at the holidays, this easy Broccoli Cranberry Salad is still a winning choice. It has lots of interesting flavors and textures, from the crunchy broccoli and toasty pepita seeds to the chewy cranberries and smoky bacon. It can withstand long hours at room temperature, and since it gets even better the longer it sits, it’s a great make-ahead recipe too.
Oh, and it does not taste like a healthy broccoli salad, even if it is on the more wholesome side of the holiday standard.
Now I’m not saying Santa would opt for Broccoli Cranberry Salad over allllllll of the cookies, but even he would find space for this easy, delicious side. Enjoy the green goodness like Broccoli Cranberry Salad in Holiday Feasting Round 1, then help yourself to the treats in Feasting Round 2!
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day in advance. Top with bacon and pepitas just before serving.
- To Store. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, though the bacon will become somewhat soft.
More Delicious Salad Recipes
Broccoli Cranberry Salad
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon cooked
- 8 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets about 1 pound
- 5 small green onions (or 3 large) white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup reduced-sugar dried cranberries
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup toasted pepitas pumpkin seeds
- If necessary, cook the bacon according to these easy steps. Once cool, crumble and set aside.
- Blanch the broccoli: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Add the broccoli florets and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Remove from the hot water with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into the ice bath to stop the cooking and set the green color. Drain, spread on a clean kitchen towel, and pat dry. Transfer to a large kitchen bowl, then add the green onions and cranberries.
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, rice vinegar, pepper, salt, and 1 tablespoon honey. Taste and add a little more honey if additional sweetness is desired. Pour over the broccoli mixture, then toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, top with crumbled bacon and pepitas.
- Can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day in advance. Top with bacon and pepitas just before serving. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, though the bacon will become somewhat soft.
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