The Hawaiians have a great expression – “calabash cousins” – for longtime friends that are like family. The Hawaiian expression comes from a hard gourd, a calabash, which halved and dried can be used as a large serving bowl for shared family-style dinners. It’s a very Asian concept: in a Chinese family you might call acquaintances “Mrs” or “Mr,” but any close family friend is aunt or uncle.
My closest calabash cousin, the adorable Edie, just returned to California today with her sweet 10-year-old daughter. On Sunday, we hosted my Ohio family of 30 – most blood relatives plus a few calabash – for a giant dinner and relaxed evening. Four years ago when we moved to Ohio, family dinners involved a lot of chasing toddlers around and making sure no one fell down the stairs. But now the kids run free, and the adults actually have time to visit. It’s pretty great.
I have a bunch of new recipes to share that I’ll try to get out over the next week or so. As usual I erred on the side of excess, so it was a mammoth spread.
I’m sharing broccoli salad first, because it’s such a good Fourth of July dish – sturdy enough for a leisurely buffet, easy to make for a crowd, and eminently munchable. My version is, of course, not the heavy mayo-bacon classic. Adapted from the ever-inspiring Smitten Kitchen, this version uses Greek yogurt for a take that is creamy, bright and happily eaten in quantity.
And here’s Edie. Is she not adorable?
I used to need a shovel to clean up under the kids’ table. But they’re getting practically civilized.
But back to broccoli salad. Bowl of broccoli – just the florets, or cut the thick stalk into matchsticks and throw them in too. The lovely creamy dressing is 2/3 Greek yogurt, 1/3 mayo, plus a bit of cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Plus a bit of onion – and I soak mine in cold water to take away some bite.
Add dried cranberries for sweetness and nuts for crunch. Slivered almonds are good, but so are roughly chopped ones. Toasted nuts are always better, but untoasted works too for the lazy among us.
Make a day ahead if you like – the salad is almost better the next day. And leftovers keep well for several more. So make extra – a ready-to-eat healthy snack or meal in the fridge is always a welcome gift.
Broccoli Salad with Greek Yogurt, Cranberries and Almonds
A lighter version of the bacon-mayo Southern classic, this is a sturdy salad that holds up better than leafy ones in a buffet or in the refrigerator. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen‘s excellent buttermilk version – I always have Greek yogurt on hand, and it makes for a thicker dressing as well.
- 2 small or one large head of broccoli (or 1 pound broccoli florets)
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced onion (more if you like)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds (slivered, sliced, or roughly chopped)
- Put minced onion in small bowl of cold water to take away some of the bite.
- Wash and prepare broccoli into small bite-sized florets. If using whole broccoli, peel large stem, cut thin slices on the diagonal then cut slices into small matchsticks. Put broccoli in large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, mix yogurt, mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Add to broccoli along with onions and mix.
- Add cranberries and toasted almonds. Mix and refrigerate until ready to serve. Make a day ahead if you like. Leftovers also keep well for several days in refrigerator.
- Toast nuts in 350 degree oven or in dry skillet on medium heat.
- Substitute white, wine or rice vinegar if you like. Also substitute shallots or scallions for onions, raisins or currants for cranberries, any nuts for almonds.
Here’s the link to a printable version.