So, funny story: I actually made this dish last Friday and sat down to write about it right about the same time a brisk little breeze started to blow and....oh, wait, you experienced that, too? Yeah. Wasn't that fun? No? We didn't think so either. Just got power back this afternoon. What luck, though, that the dish I planned to present to you was one that would work for your Fourth of July festivities regardless of your current status with good old BGE - hit the store, throw it together, and viola! Instant powerless party food.
This recipe comes from my grandmother-in-law, who got it from one of her sorority sisters many, many moons ago. It's one of three go-to "picnic dishes" that Grannie makes when attending pot-luck functions - cheesy potatoes, a broccoli-rice casserole, and cold broccoli salad. This salad takes less than 10 minutes to prepare so it's a great last-minute side AND it's one of those rare dishes that tastes better the next day, when the flavors have gotten to mingle some, so if you need to you can prep it the night before with delicious results. Also, and currently #1 on the list of things that are of "high-importance" for this Fourth of July holiday, it can be made with out needing electricity (but may require a run to the store). Ready? Let's get chopping.
For this broccoli salad, I like to use a fresh head of broccoli - my mother-in-law likes to use frozen broccoli florets, but to me the taste of the fresh stuff just works better with the other flavors in the dish. Plus, we're doing this on a no-freezer budget this time, so my way wins. Cut up one head of broccoli into bite-sized pieces. To that, add one sweet onion (diced), 2 cups of pre-cooked, pre-crumbled bacon (if you DO have power, you may want to go ahead and cook a pound of your own fresh bacon and crumble it by hand, it does add a little something wonderful. But since we're doing this sans power, break out that emergency bag of crumbled bacon you've been hoarding. I won't tell. We all hoard bacon sometimes), and 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (which is approximately one bag). Combine and set aside.
In another bowl, add 2 cups of mayonaise (if truly making this on a no-fridge budget, purchase the smallest container you can so it's not a waste if your power isn't restored within the day. Or, borrow some from your neighbor with the generator), 1/2 cup of sugar, and 4 tablespoons of cider vinegar. Stir together well, then add to broccoli mixture and combine until all the broccoli salad has been saturated with the dressing. It can be served as-is or refridgerated.
As a picnic side this dish really does work wonderfully as a bright, fresh alternative to the usual pasta salad and baked bean barbeque fare you find this time of year. If serving the dish outside, set the bowl containing the broccoli salad inside a slightly larger dish filled with ice to keep it cool and cover it with a kitchen towel or a piece of cheesecloth to keep unwanted critters out of your culinary goodness.
To make this as a dinner side, halve the quantities listed above. It's yummy with pan-seared pork, grilled chicken legs, and sloppy joes.