Shopping Brocci-lay

Right now, as I write this, I am pretty darn gruntled.

We live pretty close to Brier Creek, and the Earth Fare (10341 Moncreiffe Rd, Raleigh).  I love shopping there because they have all kinds of interesting items; lots of unusual produce, many different cheeses, and more organic products than I knew existed.

Petey and I especially love their bakery and prepared foods.  He really likes their egg rolls, and I like anything with carbs and sugar.  But we both agree on one of their salads.  It’s a simple broccoli salad with crumbled bacon.  They have a few other broccoli salads, so ours isn’t always available.  But up until recently, if they had it in the case, I’d always take a couple of pounds home.

salad case

I am ashamed to say that I loved the salad so much that when I saw it I lost my mind.  I’d just ask the nice man at the counter for some, and never give it a second thought.

Until one day I did.

I was horrified to discover that my yummy salad of raw broccoli and bacon in a light dressing was NINE DOLLARS A POUND!  Some steaks don’t cost that much.

And that was the last time I bought it, pre-made from Earth Fare.  I bought some broccoli, and decided to recreate it at home.

I had a container in the fridge with a bit left, so I studied the ingredients.  They were all things I had in the house; mayo, Parmesan cheese, mustard, and a few other items. It was just a matter of proportion.  I set to work.

I was fully prepared to write this week about my abject salad failure, but luckily it was a smashing success: thus my good spirits.

BB Salad

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets

2 pieces bacon

1 shallot, diced

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons sugar

¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Water

Cut bacon into ½ inch strips.  Cook in skillet until browned and crispy.  Drain on paper towels.  Pour out all of bacon grease except for a couple teaspoons.  Season shallot and cook in bacon fat until it’s softened and it starts to brown around the edges.

Put mayo, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and cheese into a bowl.  Pour in shallots directly from the pan, along with any remaining fat.  Whisk to combine.  Taste and season.  Dressing should be a little sweet and sour.  Thin with a little water, a bit at a time, until it’s the consistency of cake batter.

Put broccoli and bacon into a bowl.  Pour in about ¾ of the dressing and toss to coat.  If needed, add a little more at a time until the broccoli is thinly coated with dressing.

Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight, so flavors can meld.  Serves 4-6.

This cool, light salad goes great with rich and spicy flavors like barbecue sauce.

Pick up a bag of meatballs, or make your own.  Cover them in your favorite BBQ sauce, and cook them, covered at 275 for about 30 minutes.  Uncover.  Sprinkle with sharp cheddar cheese or horseradish jack.  Top with sliced green onions, and if desired, a little crispy bacon.  Cook for another 15-20 minutes, uncovered.

With these two dishes, macaroni and cheese goes perfectly.

You can make your own, but I have recently made a yummy discovery.

Panera serves macaroni and cheese in their restaurants.  It’s really delicious, if a bit on the rich side.  You can always swing by and pick up some.  But many grocery stores carry Panera soups and now I’ve noticed that their macaroni and cheese is also available.

Even though it’s doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, you can make the salad during the weekend.  It keeps well in the fridge for up to five days.  And then along with some cornbread, and maybe a little fruit for dessert, you’ve got a great weeknight meal.

Then you too, and your whole family can be gruntled like me.

Thanks for your time.

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