Brussels Sprout, Apple, Caramelized Onion & Bacon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

There has got to be a better name for this salad than "Brussels Sprout, Apple, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette," but anyway I slice it, something gets left out. Until future notice, this salad is officially a mouthful--in writing and on your plate. 

I blame it on my fried brain. The last two weeks have been a power-haul of finals and end of the year projects. But after finishing two tests on Wednesday, I could instantly breath better, sleep better and think clearer. (Funny how that works--I wish the clear thinking came along with the tests instead of after it, but there's just something about looming tests that make me want to hold my breath until it's over... and holding my breath really doesn't do much for brain function). 

Going to the monthly Paleo Potluck Club dinner last Sunday was a bright spot between study sessions last weekend. The feast was exactly what my brain needed. This salad, with it's absurdly long name, was a spot-hitter: fresh crunch from the shredded brussels sprouts, a sweet kick from the apples, and a savory crunch from bacon pieces. The caramelized onions help tied it together, while the Cranberry Vinaigrette brightens the dish and makes it fit in on a fall menu. 

I ended up recreating the salad twice during the week, and not just because we desperately need to go to the store. It's variety of flavor and textures are just delicious! And while salad usually feels meh in the winter, this salad feels just right.

(Excuse the blurry photo to the right. I blame the exam-enduced brain fog.) 

If you're new to salad with brussels sprouts you're probably having a lot of doubts right now. I don't blame you. To be honest, I tasted my first brussels sprout less than 3 years ago (though I can't remember when...), so I'm no brussels veteran. What I can tell you, is that if you're a brussels sprout newbie, this salad is not a bad place to start. (Come on, it has bacon in it!) If you are an brussels sprout veteran, add this one to your arsenal--it won't fail you. 

Brussels Sprout, Apple, Caramelized Onion & Bacon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

1 pound brussel sprouts

1/2 bunch Lacinato kale

4 strips bacon

1 large apple

1 small white onion

1 recipe cranberry dressing (recipe follows) 

 

1. Cook the bacon in a skillet over low heat until crisp. Set aside. 

2. Start preparing the onions: slice the onion in half and then into thin slices. Warm either the remaining bacon fat or 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a skillet. Cook the onions over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Prepare the rest of the salad while these caramelize to a dark golden brown color.

3. Use a food processor with a mandolin attachment (or if you're really patient, use a chef's knife) to shred the brussels sprouts (the mandolin attachment works much better than the grater attachment here). While you're at it, chiff the kale (put it through the same mandolin attachment). 

3. Toss the brussels sprouts and the kale chiffonade (shreds) in a large salad bowl. Chop the apple into small, 1 cm cubes and add them to the bowl. Chop up the cooled bacon, tossing it in, and when the onions are done cooking, toss them in as well. 

4. Toss with cranberry vinaigrette ahead of time or serve the dressing on the side. 

 

Cranberry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1/2 an orange

Zest of 1 orange

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

1. Bring the cranberries, water, and honey to a simmer in a small space pan until the berries begin to pot open (roughly 10 minutes). 

2. Add the cranberry mixture to a blender along with the remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth. 

Brussels Sprout, Apple, Caramelized Onion & Bacon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette