A festive buddy – Pittsburgh Quarterly

Hearty, comforting dishes may be the backbone of winter home cooking, but every stew or roast needs a faithful companion to balance and complete the menu. This salad fits perfectly. Full of color, crispness and liveliness, there is a breath of fresh air and taste even on the coldest winter night.

Brussels sprouts make a wonderful base for a winter salad if they are pitted and grated thinly. I also like to add kale for a nice variation in color and texture. With bitter greens, the trick is to season the salad at least 15 minutes beforehand, as the leaves become more tender as they marinate. This recipe calls for a sour lemon and olive oil vinaigrette, sweetened with a hint of maple syrup.

But the real magic of this salad comes from its “finishing touch” – bright red pomegranate seeds that sparkle like gemstones in shades of green, crispy roasted pecans and grated parmesan for a bit of richness. It works just as well as part of a holiday spread or on a weekday served alongside a simple roast chicken.

It’s worth noting that this recipe works especially well for substitution. Use whatever nuts you have on hand – almonds, walnuts, even hazelnuts. And if you can’t find a pomegranate or don’t have the patience to extract the kernels, try dried cranberries, golden raisins, or chopped dates instead. Finally, Pecorino cheese, the hotter and salty cousin of Parmesan, goes wonderfully with this salad.

For 6
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 cups chopped kale leaves, medium stems removed (about 2 ounces)
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
¾ teaspoon of kosher salt
½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup of fresh pomegranate seeds
1 cup of raw pecans
1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until roasted. Let cool, then roughly chop and set aside.

In the meantime, clean the Brussels sprouts, cut them in half through the stem and carefully remove the core. Cut the Brussels sprouts into thin slices crosswise and place in a large bowl. (You can also use a food processor’s rasp blade).

In a measuring cup or small glass bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Slowly stir in the olive oil.

Put the kale with the grated Brussels sprouts together with the dressing in the bowl and mix well. Set aside for at least 15 minutes (or up to an hour). Just before serving, add pecans, pomegranate seeds and parmesan and mix gently. Serve at room temperature.

Comments are closed.