Like most salads, everyone has their favorite way to do this one. I have a few particular biases about salads in general. I like flavor and texture contrasts, lots of color, a high ratio of goodies to the salad base, and not overwhelming amounts of dressing. Broccoli salad is one of my favorites because it is a perfect marriage of sweet, salty, crunchy, and tangy. Plus it's a feast for the eyes with all of the rich colors and absolutely loaded with nutrition. It's best if it sits in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors mingle. I personally don't like to put onions in it, because they can overpower the other flavors, but if I did, I'd use shallots because they are more mild. I know that some people like to run the ingredients through a food processor to save time, but I just can't do it. You lose so much in the way of texture when you do it, plus it's reminiscent of baby food that way.
Here's what I stirred up today for a dinner at church. As always, every time I make something, it comes out differently because I'm terrible at following even my own recipes. This batch was too my liking.
8 cups chopped broccoli florets
1 cup red grapes, cut in half
1 cup craisins
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup real shredded bacon
1 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (may substitute rice wine vinegar)
2 T. sugar
Mix together the florets, grapes, craisins, sunflower seeds and bacon in a medium mixing bowel. In a small mixing bowel, mix the mayo, vinegar and sugar. If it is too tangy, add a little more sugar to taste or back off on the vinegar by a couple of tablespoons. Stir the dressing into the veggies and allow to marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving.
**I have substituted cashews for the sunflower seeds with good results, and have also added shredded swiss cheese.