Make Ahead

The Best Broccoli Salad of My Life Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

October  4, 2022
4 Ratings
  • Makes 4 cups
Author Notes

In planning my wedding reception, I discovered a wonderfully enchanting venue called Limestone Bay Trading Co. in the historic Mooresville, Alabama. Tucked away in a quiet spot off of the highway, sat the tiny, unforgotten old trading company, chockfull of vintage charm. Shelves full of old-fashioned kitchen tools don the walls, classic cameras hang right above a stained-glass window, and homemade jams and jellies stand at attention behind a vintage register. As charming as the venue might be, there is one priority for the reception dinner. The food must be wonderful.

So, the owner, Dee, brought out a few sides for us to pick at while hashing out the details of the event: flowers, vases, and menu items… that’s about the time my fork dove into the broccoli salad. The broccoli salad. In mere moments, I became completely distracted from the most important day of my life and began dissecting what was in this simple and elegant salad. Sweet, crunchy, creamy… Dee, while excusing herself to get a cup of coffee, asked if anyone needed anything. I looked at her with the most pathetic eyes and stared at my empty dish. “I’ll get you some more broccoli salad,” she said. Life instantly got better.

The big day went off without a hitch. When sitting down at the wedding reception dinner, Dee offered to make my plate, and within moments, a whole plate filled with red wine infused beef brisket, dreamy creamed corn and crispy cornbread arrived in front of my beaming face, along with an entire plate full of my beloved broccoli salad. Thanks, Dee.

Inspired by The Smitten Kitchen

Deb Perelman highlights a sensational broccoli salad in her new book The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. In the original recipe, Deb uses raw onions, but I substituted the onions for shallots (I’m not a huge fan of eating raw onion.) Also, running the chopped shallots under cold water for a few seconds mellows out the oniony bite even more. —amber wilson | for the love of the south

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup of good mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1/4 cup of toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/8 cup of dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and salt until smooth. Stir in the shallot. Allow the shallot to mellow out in the dressing for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, trim the broccoli, and chop it into large chunks. Then cut chunks into thin slices (you could do the slicing with a mandoline, just watch your fingers!) Toss the broccoli with almonds and cranberries.
  3. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture, and add a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper. Stir the salad until all of the components have been evenly coated. This salad can be served immediately or lasts 3 days in the fridge.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • amber wilson | for the love of the south
    amber wilson | for the love of the south
  • Sarah
  • Merry
  • ann hill
    ann hill
Southern storyteller, freelance photographer, and recipe developer. Author of the Southern memoir-style food blog, For the Love of the South. Bringing Southern memories to the table.

7 Reviews

Sarah August 23, 2023
Absolutely THE best broccoli salad!!! Wonderful for lunch IF there are leftovers.
Merry June 5, 2019
The lead in is so hilarious that you have to try it. This our new favorite raw broccoli salad option. Just had it again tonight with some gorgeous cod. Love this one!
ann H. July 8, 2015
I was looking for a new way to make broccoli and I'm so glad I stumbled across this recipe. The flavors complement each other and the dressing is yummy. This will definitely end up in my rotation. Thanks so much for sharing.
Melissa W. May 20, 2013
Made it for dinner and added some shredded Brussels sprouts, too. Totally delicious!
amber W. May 21, 2013
Great idea! I'll have to try the salad with shaved Brussels sprouts next time I make this dish!
Melissa W. May 20, 2013
Looks yummy, but 1/4 teaspoon of buttermilk? Can that be right? Sounds like 1/4 cup would make more sense. Help!
amber W. May 20, 2013
All fixed! Thanks for catching that!