Recipe Type: Vegetarian
Hi, everyone! I hope that you all are having a great weekend as you're reading this post! I don't know about you, but I am so looking forward to getting together with my family next week to celebrate Thanksgiving! Like so many of you who are reading this, my family's Thanksgiving celebration in the United States typically involves a wide array of scrumptious food, football, laughter, gratitude for the many blessings that we have in life, and maybe a walk through the countryside. In other words, it ROCKS.
In honor of this special time of the year, I'm posting a truly Thanksgiving-worthy salad. One that is sweet, salty, creamy, and crunchy. You can even prep all of the ingredients ahead of time (Preferably 1 day before serving if making this recipe in advance), store them separately from one another, and toss them together the day that you serve this salad. The Brussels sprouts are served cold in this salad and taste delicious - leaving room in your oven for other critical dishes that you might need to bake at the last moment!
By the way, if you grew up HATING Brussels sprouts like I did - but never tried them roasted - you might be surprised by how delicious they are prepared this way. Roasting this vegetable causes its outer leaves to turn into crispy, carmelized goodness and have a tender interior. Definitely worthy of being given a second chance. You can read more about Brussels sprouts here.
This salad is inspired by a meal that I recently enjoyed with two hilarious RD friends at BJ's Restaurant Brewhouse in Avon, Indiana (Just for the record, BJ's Restaurant Brewhouse does a great job of accommodating a variety of dietary restrictions). As my friends and I laughed the night away at dinner, we couldn't get over how delicious BJ's Kale and Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad was. It was served as an entree that night (Think massive....to the point of taking some home as leftovers) with an option of topping it with blackened shrimp or salmon. It can hold it's own with its plant-based ingredients as a meal or side salad. As our night of fun came to an end, I decided that I was going to recreate this salad at home and post it on here for the upcoming holidays.
To still resemble the meal that we enjoyed so much, and to give it my own flare, I've made some changes to the salad. First of all, since this is a Thanksgiving-worthy salad, I'm serving it as a side salad. The main adjustments that I've made consist of using pomegranate seeds instead of dried cranberries, toasted walnuts versus candied pecans, an apple cider vinaigrette instead of a strawberry vinaigrette, and baby romaine lettuce as the sole greens. I've also excluded the cucumbers and blueberries since it's fall, but I did decide to go ahead and use red grapes because they add such a refreshing sweetness to this mixture. I love the addition of toasted unsalted walnuts. To learn more about walnuts, click here.
By the way, if you do decide to use the pomegranate seeds and haven't worked with a pomegranate before, it's time for real talk. It's a labor of love to extract these pesky seeds. BUT...given that we eat a meal first with our eyes, in my opinion it's totally worth it for a holiday meal. These sweet yet tart seeds offer such a vibrant red color to this salad-and many dishes out there. If you do extract these ruby jewels from a pomegranate, please keep in mind that they can stain your countertop and clothes (Extracting them on a cookie sheet or in the sink is helpful, as is wearing plastic gloves and an apron when conquering this fruit). The seeds can be stored in the refrigerator for around 5 days in an airtight container (Alternatively you can purchase them in some supermarkets but they are pricier than just buying the fruit itself). And if you don't feel like fooling with the seeds, you can turn to dried cranberries for your festive touch. Here's a video for how to select a good pomegranate and extract its seeds as easily as possible.
If you do make this festive salad, I'd love to hear how it turns out!
Yield: 4-6 servings depending on how hungry your guests are.
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (Remove any outer leaves that are yellow or damaged)
1 tablespoon canola oil (Or olive oil)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (Adjust to taste)
8 ounces baby romaine lettuce (I buy a 1 LB container and remove half of the greens from the package)
1 1/4 cups red grapes, halved
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1/2 cup seeds from 1 pomegranate, divided into two 1/4 cup portions (Or dried cranberries)
1 cup unsalted raw walnuts
Goat cheese, crumbled, for garnish (Optional)
Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
Dash of freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts - cut side down - on a good size nonstick baking sheet with rims (You can line the baking sheet ahead of time to make clean-up easier). Next, toss with the oil and salt. Then spread these bad boys out evenly on the baking sheet. Roast the Brussels sprouts until they're slightly golden brown, have a crispy exterior, and are tender on the inside (Around 25-30 minutes in my oven). Remove from oven and allow them to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready for use.
2. While the Brussels sprouts are cooling, turn the oven down to 375°F. Then place the 1 cup of walnuts on a lined baking sheet, evenly spreading them out. You'll want to roast them until they're just lightly browned (In my oven this took 7 minutes, but it's a good idea to start checking on them at around 4 minutes because they can burn quickly). Remove from the oven and place the walnuts on a large plate to cool. Store in an airtight container until ready for use.
3. Make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, salt, honey, and pepper together first. Next, slowly add the oil - whisking continuously until combined. Cover and store the vinaigrette in the refrigerator until ready for use. The salad may be made up to this point.
4. To serve, place the baby romaine lettuce, halved grapes, onion, 1/4 of a cup of pomegranate seeds, and 1/2 a cup of toasted walnuts in a large salad bowl and toss. Next, add the cold Brussels sprouts to the salad and gently toss some more. Place the apple cider vinaigrette that you already made into a pretty serving bowl, followed by placing the remaining 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds, the leftover 1/2 cup of walnuts, and the goat cheese into their own separate serving bowls. Pass the salad around and give your guests the option to garnish their salad with goat cheese and the extra pomegranate seeds and walnuts. Serve the vinaigrette on the side.
5. Make great memories with your loved ones and enjoy!
States is next week.