From Cooks Illustrated email. Here are their notes:
Most recipes for this salad leave the broccoli raw, but we found that cooking it briefly in boiling water improved both flavor and appearance. Adding the hardier stems to the cooking water before the florets levels the playing field, so both are tender at the same time. Drying the broccoli in a salad spinner gets rid of excess moisture, so the dressing—a tangy mayo-and-vinegar mixture—doesn’t get watered down. A few add-ins bring crunch and salty-sweet balance to this salad.
When prepping the broccoli, keep the stems and florets separate. If you don’t own a salad spinner, lay the broccoli on a clean kitchen towel to dry in step 3. You can make the salad up to six hours in advance.
6 slices bacon, chopped fine
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse
1 large shallot, minced
1. Cook bacon in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towel–lined plate.
2. Combine 4 cups water and 4 cups ice in large bowl. Bring 3 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven. Remove ½ cup boiling water and combine with raisins in small bowl; cover, let sit for 5 minutes, and drain.
3. Meanwhile, add broccoli stalks to boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Add florets and cook until slightly tender, about 1 minute. Drain broccoli and place in ice water to cool. Drain again, transfer to salad spinner, and spin dry.
4. Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add broccoli, raisins, walnuts, and shallot to bowl with dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with bacon and serve.