Well goodness, it’s taken me alot longer than I thought it would to get this recipe to you. About a week ago, I tweeted a photo of a delicious salad I made for my family and many of you responded to it with giddy delight.
The sight of this (semi) healthy offering loaded with all of those colorful goodies made your mouth water just like it does mine every time I make it. I promised the recipe and can only apologize that it’s taken so long.Now, before I give you the details, I need to pass on the credit for this bountiful goodness to The Neely’s . Their cookbook is filled with all sorts of sumptuousness that I’ve enjoyed making for my family. This one, the “Chopped Salad with Barbecue Ranch Dressing, has become a family favorite and is in their cookbook, “Downhome with the Neely’s: A Southern Family Cookbook”. RUN to the bookstore and grab it . . . (and get a copy of The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook while you’re at it!)Enjoy!CHOPPED SALAD WITH BARBECUE RANCH4 strips thick-sliced bacon2 eggsKosher salt1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed1 cup chopped seedless cucumber1/2 cup chopped red onion1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper1 cup orange (or red or yellow) grape or currant tomatoes, halved4 ounces crumbled blue cheese (Priscilla’s note: I normally use Gorgonzola cheese).1 large head romaine lettuce, trimmed and choppedFreshly ground black pepperDressing (recipe below)Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to cool.Bring a small saucepan of water to a gentle boil. Carefully place the eggs in the water and simmer for 9 minutes. Drain the eggs, and rinse in cold water until cooled (the centers should still be a bit creamy).When the eggs are cool, peel and thinly slice them. Bring a large skillet of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt, and blanch the asparagus until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the asparagus, and then shock it in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.YOU CAN SERVE THIS SALAD TWO WAYS:FOR THE MORE TRADITIONAL PRESENTATION:Toss all of the salad ingredients with the dressing in a large bowl, and then divide among individual plates. (Be sure you distribute all the goodies evenly, or people will complain.)FOR AN EVEN PRETTIER PRESENTATION:Arrange the cucumber, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, blue cheese, sliced eggs and asparagus in rows, separated by color, atop the romaine lettuce on a rectangular platter or in a large, shallow serving bowl. Crumble the cooked bacon over the top, and serve the salad with dressing on the side. Season with pepper.Makes 6 servingsBARBECUE RANCH DRESSING(Makes 1 1/2 cups)1 garlic clove, minced3/4 cup mayonnaise1/2 cup buttermilk2 tablespoons Neely’s Barbecue Sauce*2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar1 teaspoon Neely’s Barbecue Seasoning*3/4 teaspoon onion powder1/4 teaspoon dried dill1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsleyWhisk the garlic, mayonnaise, buttermilk and Neely’s Barbecue Sauce together in a medium bowl. Add the vinegar, Neely’s Barbecue Seasoning, onion powder, dill, chives and parsley, and whisk until smooth. Cover and chill 1 hour to allow flavors to meld.Priscilla’s note: I normally use whatever barbecue sauce and seasoning I have on hand in the pantry but just in case you want to go all out here’s the recipe for the Neely’s version!) *NEELY’S BARBECUE SAUCE(Makes 2 cups)2 cups ketchup1 cup water1/4 cup light brown sugar1/4 cup granulated sugar1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce1/2 cup apple-cider vinegar2 tablespoons light corn syrup1 tablespoon Neely’s Barbecue SeasoningCombine all of the ingredients in a large pot or a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Reduce the temperature to very low and simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cool, and use as needed.Sauce can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.*NEELY’S BARBECUE SEASONING(Makes 2 1/2 cups)1 1/2 cups paprika (basic paprika not labeled “sweet” or “hot”)3/4 cup sugar (reviewer suggests using much less)3 3/4 tablespoons onion powderStir together the ingredients in a small bowl. Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, this seasoning will last for up to 6 months.