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Broccoli Salad

You know, I don’t remember looking forward to Spring and warm weather this much when I lived in Texas.  It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but the winters just aren’t severe enough there to make a person really appreciate the end of the cold.  Spring is also fleeting in Texas – the Bradford pears have likely already bloomed, as well as the daffodils, and the tulip’s brief bloom will be coming to an end soon as well.

Here in northeast Ohio, though, if winter isn’t the longest season it surely seems like it.  So Spring?  I love it.  Spring here is long, with gradually warming days, cool nights and gentle showers.  The crocus will bloom first, followed by the daffodils, then the tulips and they will hang around considerably longer than they do in hot, dry Texas.

There was a time when I would have laughed in your face if you’d told me I’d think 62 degrees is warm.  But over the weekend, we had blue skies filled with fluffy, white clouds, plenty of sunshine and each day the high reached around 62 degrees.  And we ate it up.  I, sadly, spent much of Saturday in the office (we are taking a few days off work next week), but when I got home, Beloved and The Young One were working in the yard and I joined them quite enthusiastically.

Beloved also brought the grill/smoker out of the garage where we stored it late last fall and we bought an entire brisket at the grocery store.  Brisket is a rare find up here – usually you can only find it once it’s been turned into corned beef – so even though it wasn’t exactly cheap, we bought the entire 4.5 pounds and smoked it Sunday.

Another sign of Spring at the Sushi Bar is that I get salad fever.  I didn’t feel like it was quite summery enough for my sweet potato salad or pasta salad, but I wanted a nice, hearty salad to go with our lovely brisket and the gallon of iced tea we’d made.  This salad went wonderfully with it and Beloved, who is normally lukewarm about broccoli, gobbled it up.

It’s one of my favorites, too.

Note:  I don’t measure the ingredients for this recipe – I just sort of throw it all together – so the measurements are approximate.  You may want to tweak it to suit your own taste.

Broccoli Salad

6 – 8 servings

1 pound broccoli, cut into bite-size florets

2 teaspoons salt

8 oz. bacon, chopped (I used a thick-sliced, peppered bacon)

½ small red onion, chopped

1 to 1½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup mayonnaise

1 scant tablespoon white vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar or Splenda

salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, fry the chopped bacon until brown and crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.  Set aside.

In a large stockpot, bring a couple of quarts of water to a boil.  Add the 2 teaspoons of salt, then the broccoli, and blanch for 2 minutes.  Drain in a colander and run cold water over it to stop the cooking process.  Suspend the colander over a large mixing bowl and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  This will chill the broccoli for the salad and drain all the water, preventing the salad from becoming “soggy.”

After the broccoli has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and pour out any water that has accumulated in the bowl, then wipe it dry.  Add the broccoli, cheese, onion and bacon to the bowl and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar, blending well.  Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If not serving immediately, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator.

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