Feeling better and craving a crisp salad with Brussels sprouts
I always know that I’m feeling better when I crave something green, and so I made Brussels Sprouts Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing yesterday afternoon. Ollie and I had taken a long, celebratory walk earlier in the glorious sunshine. Ollie was most understanding of his sick human, but he practically flew down the stairs in anticipation after I said the magic words, “Yeah! We’re gonna go!”
Legs stretched, and heart happy afterwards, I then set out to make the dish that I’d looked forward to all day. I tend toward simple salads that don’t require a lot of prep (Leftover Steak Salad uses leftovers), but I really like the contrasts in this one.
A little bit of fuss makes for a tasty Brussels sprouts salad
It takes a little time to get Brussels Sprout Salad all pulled together, but I assure you that it’s worth it and that there’s nothing onerous or difficult here. If you’re staple ingredients look like mine, you won’t need to make any special purchases (I almost always have Brussels sprouts on hand this time of year).
Get the Maple Pecans in the oven and make the dressing while they cook. Then blanch the sprouts, and take a little break before assembling the salad. Easy peasy.
Blanching the Brussels sprouts mellows them a bit, allowing them to work as a salad green without overwhelming bitterness. Some greens are not really meant to be eaten totally raw, at least not in my humble opinion. I suppose you could skip it if you were well and truly psyched about eating raw Brussels sprouts, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Those Maple Pecans, though
You’ll find that you’ll use the components for other dishes. The delectable Maple Pecans make a perfect snack (add some herbs and spices to them, and then serve at a party whenever we get to have those again), as well as salad topping. Every time I make Maple Pecans, I wonder why I don’t do it more often—as far as bang for buck goes, they’re hard to beat. I promise I won’t tell if you nibble on them while putting the salad together.
Maple Dijon Vinaigrette is a keeper, too
The Maple Dijon vinaigrette also makes appearances in other salads. It’s sweet, with a little bit of puckery attitude. Get the crispest apple you can find and slice it super thin, and don’t forget the dried cranberries, as they add just enough tart/sweet to balance the salad.
A little bit of effort results in a most satisfying salad. I’d even go so far as to say if your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving table is in want of a little crunch, this could make an appearance.
What’s your go-to salad for when you want something different? Let me know in the comments, and also let me know if you try this! I’d love to hear what you think.
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
For the Maple Pecans
- 1 cup pecans if they are raw, consider toast them first to improve crunch
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pinch Piment d'Espelette or chili powder to taste
- flaky sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
For the Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 5 tbsp apple cider vinegar this is to taste
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
For the Salad
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts
- 1 apple, preferably McIntosh, sliced very thin
- 1 tbsp dried cranberries, chopped
- Maple Pecans, chopped see above
- Maple Dijon dressing see above
- kosher salt
- flaky sea salt optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
Make the Maple Pecans
- Add the olive oil, maple syrup, and Piment d'Espelette to a bowl and mix to combine
- Add the pecans, mix to coat and then pour out onto the foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt
- Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 14 minutes, stirring every 5 until the syrup is very, very sticky and the nuts have deepened a bit in color (and smell amazing). Sprinkle with a bit more flaky sea salt and a couple of grinds of pepper
- Cool just long enough to be able to handle them on the pan and then remove to a bowl until needed. IMPORTANT: Do not leave them on the foil, because they will stick to it. Maple Pecans can be made up to a day ahead in a jar.
Make the Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
- In a mason jar with a lid, add the olive oil. Cover and shake vigorously until the olive oil has gotten a little cloudy
- Add the vinegar and shake again until blended. Follow with the maple syrup and then the mustard, shaking vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust if necessary and then season with a bit of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Blanch the Brussels Sprouts
- Prepare a bowl of ice water large enough to hold the Brussels Sprouts
- Add the Brussels Sprouts to the boiling salted water and blanch for 2 minutes (this depends on their size). The leaves should still be bright green but deepen slightly
- Drain and then add the Brussels Sprouts immediately to the ice water to stop cooking. When cooled, drain, and dry in a tea towel. The sprouts must be dry before assembling the salad
Assemble the Salad
- Trim the bottoms off the Brussels sprouts and core (I do this by cutting around it). You want to have mostly green leaves, with a little bit of paler green
- Then shred the sprouts using a very sharp knife. Add the sprouts to the serving bowl (in the images and I assembled one salad)
- Add the apples, followed by the dried cranberries and Maple Pecans
- Add the salad dressing. Toss to combine and serve