Who loves broccoli? Hmm, not that many hands went up.
Broccoli's one of those love-it-or-hate-it vegetables. If what's been written about broccoli having nearly super nutritional powers is correct; it's better to like it a little than to hate it.
If you believe broccoli's strong in nutrients, look at broccoli sprouts. They are ultra-nutritious.
I love broccoli and have all my life. Mom was pretty good about not over-cooking broccoli; serving it with a dollop of mayonnaise on the side. Now before you shriek: "Ewwww, gross," consider this. Fancy restaurants serve broccoli with hollandaise sauce, which is butter, lemon juice and egg yolks.
From what is mayonnaise made? Vegetable oil, lemon juice and egg yolks. Some might say that hollandaise sauce is a butter-based mayonnaise served warm.
I'm new to broccoli sprouts and thought they'd be an excellent substitute for lettuce in a sandwich.
Being on the edge of summer got me to thinking about other ways to use broccoli, together with broccoli sprouts. I've had my fair share of broccoli salads made with a variety of nuts, some have added cheese along with raisins. Some are made with chopped up cooked chicken. All have a mayonnaise-based dressing.
Over the years I've gotten a lot pickier about mayonnaise. For a long time, I used low-fat mayonnaise until they figured out how to make fat-free mayonnaise. Sure, that trimmed a lot of fat, but when you pull back the wizard's curtain, you quickly learn that chemical thickeners and high-fructose corn syrup make that work.
The advent of low- or-no-fat dressings was important at that time when you understand real mayonnaise delivers 100 calories per level tablespoon and 99-percent of those calories come from fat.
Today I steer clear of iffy oils and sugary sweeteners. I now use real mayonnaise made with healthy avocado oil. The brand I use has zero added sugars, too. Over the last few years, I've also made my own mayonnaise with extra-virgin, organic olive oil. The flavor is so big I can use less mayonnaise and cut back on calories without any tricks.
Knowing that broccoli is healthy for me made me wonder if I could make a healthy and tasty broccoli salad with both full-grown broccoli and broccoli sprouts.
I decided to use better-for-me organic bacon and walnuts in my new salad along with sweet golden raisins to balance the salt from the bacon. Blanching the broccoli boosted the color and made it easier to eat. There's nothing worse than gray-looking, over-cooked broccoli.
Using shallots instead of onions delivered a rounder flavor, and sherry vinegar stands up to the mayo with its big, bold flavor. A little stevia helped smooth out all the flavors, as well as cut the edge on the vinegar.
How did my healthier salad creation turn out? Sensational. Guests at a Saturday barbecue ate it all, right down to the bottom of the serving bowl. Hard to believe how good healthy food can taste.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@ theleanwizard.com.