Healthy Holiday Salad with Broccoli, Cauliflower & Dried Cranberries ♥ Recipe

Healthy Holiday Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad
A "healthy holiday makeover" of that broccoli salad we all know and love, you know the one from church potlucks, right? the broccoli salad with bacon and raisins and cheddar cheese? My recipe uses tiny florets of fresh broccoli and fresh cauliflower for a little green and white holiday color, then substitutes dried cranberries for raisins. And the dressing? It's my favorite light mayo dressing, thinned with a little buttermilk and brightened with lemon zest. (Weight Watchers, just one point for those still counting points in the "old way" and 2 points for those who count with PointsPlus.)

So the first year that all you vegetable lovers abandoned A Veggie Venture in December, my feelings were a little hurt. What vegetable recipe, I wondered, could compete with fancy appetizers and platters of oh-so-pretty Christmas cookies? Last year, I even implored, Let's Give Salads with Abandon!

But the thing is, even during the holidays -- maybe especially during the holidays -- nothing hits the spot like a plateful, even a spoonful, of healthy vegetables. Here's a salad that takes the summer classic, that broccoli salad with bacon and raisins and cheddar cheese, and gives it a healthy makeover with colors and flavors suitable for a casual holiday supper. (Side Note: How in the world does something with piles of calorie-dense bacon and raisins and cheddar cheese ever get to be called "salad"?! Jeepers!)

PRETTY BOWLS I just love pretty serving bowls and the green glass bowl on a pedestal in the photo has to be one of the prettiest ever, don't you think?! It was rescued from a rustic outdoor garden where my mom once collected "found" things (driftwood, rummage sale pots, even silk flowers) in her artistic fashion. It makes me smile! You'll see it again, no doubt!

WARM WELCOME A big hello! and thank you! to all the new subscribers who signed up for a free e-mail subscription to A Veggie Venture over Thanksgiving. Yep, this is that "veggie recipe website" -- the one that's 100% vegetables and mostly vegetarian and often vegan. During December, I post new recipes on occasion but just wait until the new year, THEN you'll see lots of vegetable inspiration from here, promise!


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Makes 5-1/2 cups

1/4 cup (55g) low-fat mayonnaise (I'm a Hellman's girl all the way!)
1/4 cup (70g) buttermilk
Zest of half a lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 pound broccoli (about 3 broccoli crowns), just the tops, cut into small florets (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1/2 pound cauliflower (about 3 large sections or 1/3 a head), just the tops, cut into small florets
1/4 cup (40g) red onion, diced very small
1/3 cup (50g) dried cranberries, chopped a bit for easier distribution (save a few aside for garnish)
1/3 cup (45g) toasted sunflower seeds (ditto)

Cranberries & sunflower seeds

DRESSING Whisk dressing ingredients in a large bowl.

SALAD Prep the salad ingredients and drop into the dressing bowl. Stir very well, you really want the dressing to be able to get into the nooks and crannies of the florets.

SERVE Refrigerate until ready to serve but best served same day. Just before serving, top with a few dried cranberries and sunflower seeds. Serve and enjoy!

TO MAKE AHEAD Mix the dressing, prep the vegetables but keep separate. Just before serving, stir together.

One batch, I steamed the broccoli and cauliflower florets for five minutes, hoping to remove just a touch of the rawness. But the cooking made the mixture into something less salad-like. Another technique might be to blanch the florets briefly in boiling (and well-salted) water. That said, I couldn't get enough of this salad when the broccoli and cauliflower were raw. Maybe I should just stick with that!
I provided weight information for the dressing so that you can just scoop the ingredients into a big bowl, no need to use and wash measuring cups!

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Karen M. in CalifNovember 29, 2011

    Hi Alanna,
    What would a strip of bacon add to the WW old pts and pts plus to this recipe?

  2. I visit regularly but rarely comment . This post made me want to say thanks for all the hard work that goes into such a useful site. With Dec being the first month of summer here I won't be neglecting the site - my garden is now providing summer vegetables. I look forward to your new posts but generally seek ideas in the archives to match the season here in New Zealnd, however today's Christmas hued salad will accompany me to at least one bbq between now and Christmas!

    Season's Greetings, Robyn

  3. Robyn ~ As my sister is wont to say, "It's too early in the day for tears." Thank you, thank you, thank you for your "early Christmas gift".

  4. HI! This is one of my favorite recipes, and I am glad to see it have a makeover. My original has no cheese (thank heavens!) and a cooked dressing. Some time ago I started substituting chopped "smokehouse" almonds for the bacon - similar flavor idea, but they keep better if you have the salad left over. Probably add a little nutrition too. Also substituted dried currants for the raisins - they are smaller and spread themselves around the bowl a little better. Can't wait to try it with dried cranberries - I just love them in so many other things.

  5. Just dropping by to let you know I'm taking this out to a barbeque this evening, trust that your December stats are better this year!

    Season's Greetings, Robyn

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna