BROCCOLI & BACON // elspeth

Hello ! from here, where we're still unearthing. We drove home from Maine early Sunday morning and I only just unpacked Alex's slippers and sorted through the mountain of Christmas cards and bills on my desk. We have yet to find a proper home for Sally's new pink princess tent, but if you are small and love Magna Tiles, come on in.

The thing is, I don't want to rush the process. I love January. There is so much organizational energy thrumming around, so much possibility. I love a good list—there's a running tab for the grocery store in the kitchen, and almost always a to-hope-to-do list for the day on the kitchen counter—but in January I start to believe I might actually accomplish all the things on them. And of course, this is the time of year for Big Lists, lists with goals like finishing that hour long radio show I've been working on and listening better to Sally. 

With that in mind, I wanted to offer a recipe for this broccoli and bacon salad. We have always had a rule in our kitchen that we don't make special meals for anyone—that what's served is what's available, and you don't have to eat it but you do have to try it, and you should also be aware that's all there is. This rule comes from a place of love—I hope and believe it will result in healthy, well-rounded eaters. Also, it preserves our sanity. I don't have the time or the energy to cook multiple dinners.

But that doesn't mean I can't keep in mind preferences. I try not to make krispy kale when Alex is around, because I know he's sick of it. Sally and I Can't. Get. Enough ! but we can eat it for lunch and spare him the polite grimace. By the same token, I would never cut into a strawberry rhubarb pie without him, because it's his favorite. 

I read the other day that we don't generally give our children the kind of respect that we demand from them. It resonated, and reminded me of how important it is to listen. This goes for small conversations and big ones, and it also goes for the kitchen. I don't make beets all that often,  both because I find them a pain to peel and cook and because they're just not my favorite. There are plenty of other healthy, delicious foods to choose from. And while I'm not going to plan our meals around Sally's likes and dislikes, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have broccoli and peas and kale a little more often just because she likes them. 

Hence the broccoli salad. Bacon, raisins, and broccoli are three of her favorite foods. She'll love it! I thought. See kid, I'm listening! Turns out she thought the dressing was disgusting and she was deeply offended by the addition of finely chopped onions. She ate the split pea soup and bread that were also on the table instead. But we loved it, and we listened to why she didn't. And the next day for lunch, we had plain, steamed broccoli instead. 


This recipe is adapted from one by Trisha Yearwood, who I am realizing as I type this is first and foremost a country singer. (She's In Love with the Boy!) Had I remembered that before, I might not have tried this, but I'm so glad I did. Turns out not only can the woman belt it out about a one-horse town, she also makes a mean broccoli-bacon salad. I cut down on the sugar and added a little yogurt with the mayo, but mostly this is hers. It's best served right after you add the bacon, so it stays crisp.

5 cups small broccoli florets
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3/4 cup raisins
fine grain sea salt to taste
5 slices bacon, cooked and finely chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes, until just tender and bright green. Drain and put in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the mayo, yogurt, onion, sugar, vinegar, and raisins. Drain the broccoli again, shake it well to remove any extra water, and toss with the dressing to coat. Taste for salt and add as needed. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Just before serving, add the bacon and toss well. 

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.