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This Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pear, Bacon and Cranberry salad just might be my favorite recipe of Thanksgiving!! Yes- I know it’s a mere salad, but I’m quite happy with a nutrient packed and easy on the waist line recipe! Shredded raw Brussels Sprouts, nutty Manchego cheese, toasted walnuts, juicy pears, and tart dried cranberries, are tossed with a bacon flavored apple cider vinaigrette with mild note of citrus. Every bite of this delicious and festive salad is bursting with flavor and texture!
With all that buttery, starchy goodness being passed around on Thanksgiving, I like to make myself feel better about the sheer gluttony of the day by having a light seasonal vegetable available. Now of course, you may have the green bean salad on the table as your “vegetable” but since it’s loaded with cream and butter , I can’t say this is exactly easy on the hips.
Besides being AMAZING, what I also love about this festive brussels sprout salad is that it doesn’t require precious real estate in the oven, and it can be made ahead of time!!! Which is key!!!
Here’s a little timeline of how I manage making this Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Pear, Bacon and Cranberry.
On Tuesday: Shred the Brussels Sprouts
First step will be shredding the Brussels Sprouts. You will need to trim the bottom first and then use the shredding disc attachment of your food proscessor to thinly and uniformly shave the Brussels Sprouts. If you don’t have a food processor- GET ONE– and if you simply refuse to make this investment for yourself, then use a knife or a mandoline to shave the brussels sprouts. But we are talking a time difference of 5 minutes compared to 45 minutes, sooooooo…. I rest my case.
On Wednesday : Prepare toppings and dressing
First, toast the walnuts: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnuts on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes, until toasted. Set the nuts aside to cool completely, then roughly chop.
Next Crisp the Bacon: Turn the oven heat up to 400° and bake bacon for 10 minutes until crispy. Remove bacon from oven and let bacon rest on paper towel to soak up the excess fat. Before discarding the drippings from pan reserve 2 tbsp of bacon fat for dressing. Roughly chop crisped bacon slices, and reserve.
Make Maple Citrus Apple Cider Vinaigrette: Place the rendered bacon fat and olive oil to medium sized skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the the sliced shallot, and cook until fragrant. Just about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly. Transfer the shallot and the oil/bacon drippings to a mixing bowl and whisk in apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, thyme, orange zest, lemon zest. Season with salt, pepper to taste. Reserve in fridge.
Refrigerate: In air tight container, combine the chopped toasted walnuts, crispy chopped bacon, roughly chopped cranberries, and shredded Manchego Cheese and keep in the fridge. This is as far as you can prep in advance! On Thanksgiving, you will bring it all together.
On Thanksgiving: Final Touches
So about 2 hours before go time, I would say it’s safe to combine. Dice the pears and add them to the container of your other salad toppings that was prepared in advance. The dressing has most likely hardened in the refrigerator, simply warm in on stovetop to return it to liquid consistency. Choose your serving bowl, add half the shaved brussels sprouts, half of the toppings and half the dressing then toss to combine. Add the other half of everything and repeat. I like to combine the salad in stages to ensure that toppings and dressing are evenly incorporated. Sometimes, I find that the bottom of the bowl gets shortchanged on yumminess if i don’t combine in stages.
Even though the salad is dressed, since the brussels sprouts are raw, this salad is still great the next day! So don’t you dare through any leftovers away!! But this salad just might steal the turkey’s thunder, so I wouldn’t count on leftovers at all!
For More Thanksgiving recipes try:
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pear, Bacon and Cranberry
- 2 lb brussel sprouts bottoms trimmed, shredded
- 1 cup walnuts toasted and roughly chopped
- 1 cup dried cranberries roughly chopped
- 2 2 bartlett pears cored and diced small
- 1½ cup Manchego cheese grated
- 8 slices of bacon crisped, fat reserved
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp thyme fresh leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp rendered bacon drippings
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnuts on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes, until toasted. Set the nuts aside to cool completely, then roughly chop.
- Turn heat up to 400° and bake bacon for 10 minutes until crispy. Remove from oven and let bacon rest on paper towel. Reserve 2 tbsp of bacon fat for dressing. Roughly chop crisped bacon slices.
- To make the vinaigrette, add rendered bacon fat and olive oil to medium sized skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the shallots, cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly. Transfer to mixing bowl and whisk in apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, thyme, orange zest, lemon zest. Season with salt, pepper to taste.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the shredded brussels sprouts, cheese, walnuts, cranberries and bacon. Just before serving prepare the diced pear and add to salad bowl. Toss with dressing to combine.