Nana’s Kitchen: Broccoli-Bacon-Cashew salad

Salad ready to eat. Nana’s Kitchen photo.

Nana’s Kitchen: Broccoli-Bacon-Cashew salad

Greetings, home cooks, welcome to Nana’s Kitchen.
Next weekend is the 4th of July. Picnics, family gatherings, camping and other activities will be in progress. An integral part of those events is food! Some pre-planning and preparation can make the time more enjoyable for those on food preparation duty. Having a few dishes prepared ahead can help things move along. Items that can be prepped 2-3 days or more ahead makes a difference.

Here are a few hints to help get you ready for the festivities:

  • Plan out the meals and food to be fixed.
  • Make sure the essentials are on hand such as spices, mayo, mustard, ketchup etc.
  • Shop ahead. Saturday grocery shopping the day before a Sunday holiday is insane! Wall to wall people. 
  • Cut and season meat the day before or prepare a week ahead and freeze.
  • Clean and prep vegetables. Chop carrots, celery, onions, broccoli and other hard vegetables.
  • Fresh green beans can be cut and readied 3 days ahead. Wash before cooking.
  • Store washed and dried leafy vegetables in zip lock bags with a paper towel to absorb moisture and keep leaves fresh.
  • Cookies can be made a couple days ahead. Pies and cakes a day before.
  • Dips and spreads prepared several days ahead.

Do not forget food safety, especially when eating outside in the hot weather. The old adage that cold foods should be kept cold and hot foods hot, applies. Wise words. Cold perishable foods should be kept at 40 degrees or below in the cooler till ready to serve.
– Once served the dish should not sit out longer than 2 hours, or one hour if the outdoor temperature is 90 degrees or above. Discard if this happens.
– Foods like chicken salad,and desserts in individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice. Or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace with fresh ice. 

Hot food should be kept hot,at or above 140 degrees F. 
– Wrap well and place in insulated containers till served.
– Just as with cold food these items should not sit out for more than 2 hours, or one hour in temperatures above 90 degrees. If food is left out longer, throw it away to be safe. (these recommendations come from the USDA)

Other safety recommendations include good hand washing. If you do not have soap and running water bring a jug of water from home with some liquid soap. Hand gel sanitizers or handy wipes are always useful. 

Be sure when transporting foods to keep raw meats, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods. Place in sealed containers as other food. Never place cooked food on a plate that held raw meats. Use a different plate or wash the original plate in soap and water. Do not reuse marinades that held raw meats unless you bring them to a boil first.

Now to share one of my favorite make ahead salads. This can be made 2-3 days ahead and refrigerated till serving time. Have tight fitting lids to keep the food fresh and prevent spillage when traveling.

Broccoli-Bacon-Cashew salad

Ingredients:
– 8 slices of bacon cooked, crumbled.
– 3 bunches fresh broccoli, cleaned chopped to bite size pieces, dried well.
– 1 red small to medium onion, chopped. If you have a large onion use half.
– 1 cup Craisins
– 1 cup cashews.
For the dressing:
– 1 cup mayonnaise
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
Whisk together and set aside. 

Combine and toss together the broccoli, onion, Craisins, cashews and bacon.
Add dressing. Toss again to combine. You will need a big bowl. 
May serve immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days. This recipe tastes better as the flavors meld. 
Servings 8 or more.

Ready for the refrigerator. Nana’s Kitchen photo.

Hints:

  • If you feel the broccoli needs blanched before using place in boiling water for no more than one minute and plunge in ice water to stop the cooking process. I do not feel this is necessary but a few folks prefer to do so. If you cook the broccoli this recipe does not work. Crunchy is the key word here.
  • Save out a little bit of the nuts to sprinkle on just before serving for extra crunch.
  • Other nuts  may be used , such as sunflower or toasted slivered almonds. Pecans would work if that is what you have on hand. I just like the cashews. The flavor works.
  • Regular raisins or golden raisins may be used instead of the Craisins. Even blueberries or pineapple bits would work. Just drain the pineapple very well. Use what you have to save spending extra at the market.
  • A little shredded cheese may be added as well. Your choice.
  • Do not use artificial bacon bits. It just does not taste the same. If you prefer to use bacon bits use real bacon bits. Frying up a few extra pieces of bacon does not hurt the cook one bit. A little quality control is good. 
  • As to vinegar, if you do not have apple cider vinegar, use some red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, white vinegar, or champagne vinegar.
  • This recipe can be made your own with adjustments as you like. This is a crunchy salad with a little chew from the raisins. Very satisfying.

Enjoy!

  A southerner would fry up a salad if he could figure out how. 
                                                                                  – Joel Thompson

  You cannot see the lettuce and the dressing without suspecting a salad.
                                                                                    – Arthur Conan Doyle