Please don’t judge me before you judge the salad

I had an awful time deciding on this week’s topic.I knew what I wanted to write about, but I was hesitant to do it.  It’s not that the recipe isn’t tasty because  It’s not that the preparation is difficult, because literally a child (with a little adult supervision) could make this dish.   And it’s not that it requires a lot of expensive ingredients, because chances are you have everything on hand right now.

No, the problem is that on the face of it, this recipe not only seems heavy, it also seems very plain—even boring.  How could these few ingredients combine to make something tasty?

I’m here now to tell you I have no idea how it does, either.  I think it’s some kind of gestalt thing; you know, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.

But every time I make a bowl of this stuff I think that I really need to give you, Gentle Reader, this recipe.  I love it so much that I’ve felt guilty not spilling the beans to you.  Petey loves it, and The Kid, who wasn’t crazy about an earlier version, can’t get enough of it.

There we are…we rent the other two kids to round out the table.

So, The Kid’s coming for dinner tomorrow night and I’m serving it, along with some herbed potatoes and a new preparation of pork cubed steak.  It was the first time I’ve used cornmeal to crust meat.

But enough with the beating around the bush.  The dish I’ve been rhapsodizing about is broccoli salad.  See? I told you it didn’t sound very exciting.  But gosh it is good.

A few tips about making it, though.

Cut the broccoli into very small florets.  Small as in three florets would be bite-size.  And when you add the hot water to thin the dressing, make it as hot as your faucet gets, and whisk it in very well.  You are basically making an emulsion, and you don’t want it to separate after you’ve mixed it into the salad; that’s not appetizing.

Broccoli/Bacon Salad


8 cups broccoli cut into very small florets

4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy, reserving ¼ cup bacon grease

1 cup mayonnaise

2/3 cups finely shredded Parmesan. Divided

Very hot water, aprox. ½ cup

Salt and pepper

Cut broccoli into small pieces and place into a large bowl.  Add half the cheese, and gently toss.

Make dressing.  Mix mayo, bacon grease, and half the cheese.  Whisk together.  Add enough hot water to make it the consistency of thick pancake batter.  Season, taste, and re-season if necessary. 

Pour dressing over broccoli and mix until veg is coated.  Crumble bacon into salad and stir in.  Cover and refrigerate.  It’s better after twelve hours or so, and lasts 4 days in fridge.Makes 8 servings.

I haven’t found anything that doesn’t go well with this salad.  It packs up great for picnics, as long as you can keep a chill on it.  It’s terrific as a potluck too, because it doesn’t look very exciting, then you taste it.  It’s the sleeper cell of side dishes.

Tomorrow we’re having it with that cornmeal crusted pork cubed steak I talked about.  It’s really easy, with a big flavor payoff.

Cornmeal crusted cubed pork: Four to six hours before cooking make a three-part dredge of seasoned flour, non-fat buttermilk, and self-rising cornmeal.  Crust the pork in that order.  Place on parchment paper covered plate, cover with another piece of parchment (so there is no stickage), seal with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cooking time.When you’re ready to cook, heat a heavy skillet on medium-high.  Add about 1 inch of vegetable oil.  When the oil is nice and hot, cook pork until browned and crispy on one side then flip and cook the other side.

Petey likes his with a piece of provolone melted on top.  The Kid and I like a spritz of lemon juice.  They also make a great filling for hearty sandwiches.

And while the salad is definitely not spa food, there is only about 300 calories per one cup serving.  My trouble comes in limiting it to that one cup.  I promise you, this stuff is amazing (and so tempting).

Thanks for your time.