Is it still a salad if we put “candied” things in it?
This Broccoli Crunch Salad can be either a salad or a meal, entirely depending on your intention to share. I did not share it. I ate most of this standing at the counter right after I made it and then finished the rest off for a “snack” later.
It is definitely a no-share kind of salad. Super crunchy broccoli that’s broiled long enough just to get a little colour on it but not so long that it loses its crunch. Salty, crisp bacon cooked up with shallots and cashews and cooked until dark, sticky and spicy with brown sugar and red pepper flakes. And the dressing… aahhhhh, the dressing. A rich, sweet, salty, tangy mix of almond butter, lime juice and maple syrup that just makes this whole thing sing. It’s so good I could make a smoothie out of it. But I won’t. Or at least I won’t admit to it if I do.
Chopping all the elements of this salad into bite sized pieces ensures that every single mouthful is loaded with all the good things that make up this irresistible dish. It is best eaten it with a spoon.
Broccoli Crunch Salad, the details…
While this salad is super easy to make, there is a bit of chopping involved. Trust me though, it’s worth it. I understand that chopping raw broccoli into not just florets, but into tiny little pieces is a bit of an exercise and likely requires a wee bit of sweeping after, but know that symmetry and beauty are not objectives here. Nobody cares if the pieces look perfect or are all the same size. So chop away friends, chop away.
The broccoli is tossed with a little oil, seasoned and then broiled for a few minutes. This step is optional and you can make the salad with completely raw broccoli too, but I just really, really like that little hit of crispy brown bits that come from a little time under the broiler.
The candied bacon mixture is really the star of the show here because it is just so, so, so good. Chopped bacon cooked up with sliced shallots (or red onion) and cashews all tossed with brown sugar and red pepper flakes for a sticky, sweet, spicy coating that is just the perfect mix of very, very good things.
The dressing is a super delicious mixture of almond butter, maple syrup and lime juice made perfect with a little water, oil and salt. Whisk until smooth. That’s it.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Bacon – I use regular old bacon in this, but you could use turkey bacon or even coconut bacon if those are your thing.
Almond Butter – I use roasted almond butter.
Add-ins – You can easily play around with this salad. Add in some raisins or dried cranberries, try different nuts, or toss in a handful of sunflower seeds.
Looking for more interesting salad & side dish recipes? Try these…
Let me know what you think!
Broccoli Crunch Salad with Candied Bacon & Cashews
For the salad:
- 4-5 cups broccoli finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 slices bacon chopped
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1/3 cup shallots sliced thinly
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes plus more for serving
For the dressing:
- 2 Tbsp almond butter
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 1 Tbsp warm water
- 1 Tbsp oil
- Toss the chopped broccoli with the olive oil oil, season with S&P and spread out on a baking sheet. Broil for 3-4 minutes until lightly charred. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.
- Cook the bacon over medium heat in a heavy skillet until starting to crisp. If there’s a lot of fat in the pan, drain off all but about a tablespoon. Add in the cashews, shallots, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Let cook, stirring occasionally until browned and sticky.
- To make the dressing mix together the almond butter, maple syrup, lime juice, water and oil. Whisk well.
- Add the broccoli to a serving bowl and toss with the dressing.
- Top with the bacon & cashew mixture.
- Serve with extra red pepper flakes.
If you like this Broccoli Crunch Salad Recipe, please go try my Recipe for Orzo Pesto Salad. Another super satisfying side dish that’s loaded with flavour.