One of my 101 Things challenges that I've been surprisingly lax on is having a dinner party with a theme every six months. So just before Christmas I decided to hold a "red and green" themed dinner party in honour of the traditional Christmas colours.
Okay, so it was more "shades of red and green", which meant that pink and burgandy and purple and very pale green were all acceptable colours.
I'll eventually post a couple of other recipes, including a beetroot and goat cheese salad, a roasted vegetable salad, and an orange polenta cake covered in pink rose-flavoured buttercream and sprinkled with pistachios. Such pretty colours!
In the meantime, here is a salad that sounds utterly revolting, but which I promise is not. It really, really isn't. In fact, I could eat rather a lot of this and not get sick of it. I think. But it's red and green (sort of) and I made it for this red-and-green dinner party as well as for another Christmas potluck lunch.
It's adapted from a recipe on Simply Recipes and I have basically played around with the quantities, including eliminating half the dressing (because it was absolutely drowning in it the first time I made it for a pre-Christmas BBQ the weekend before the dinner party). I can't really claim it as my own, but I have added a couple of steps that I think were quite important for the success of the salad.
2 medium-large heads of broccoli
1/2c toasted slivered almonds
3 middle rashers of bacon (i.e. the full length, not the short cuts), rind & outer fat removed
A little oil
1/3 red onion, diced
1c frozen peas, thawed
1/2c mayonnaise (I used whole egg mayo - much nicer than that 97% fat free garbage)
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
Thaw peas on paper towel and pat dry. You will want to use fairly new peas and not the ones from the back of your freezer, otherwise they'll be all wrinkly and manky.
Chop onion and set aside.
Dice bacon into 1-1.5cm pieces and fry in a little oil (you won't need much as the bacon releases fat) until lightly browned. Remove from heat and drain on paper towel. Set aside.
In the same pan, toast the slivered almonds and keep them moving until lightly browned. Remove them from the pan immediately that this happens, otherwise they will keep cooking and burn. Set aside.
Remove florets from broccoli heads. If you wish, you can also chop some of the stalk up and use that (I didn't). Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and prepare a large bowl with iced water. Place broccoli florets in water that is at a rolling boil and leave them only until they turn green (no more than 1-1.5 minutes) then lift out with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the iced water to arrest cooking. They should be bright green and still crunchy, but not repulsively so. You just don't want them to be soggy. You may need to do this in two batches. Drain broccoli thoroughly then pop in the refrigerator until you're ready to dress and serve it.
Mix the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and honey until thoroughly and evenly combined. Keep refrigerated until ready to use it.
Shortly before serving, combine broccoli, almonds, onions and bacon in a large bowl. Pour dressing evenly over salad and toss to combine.