Autumn Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

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This morning I started prepping for Thanksgiving!

Entertaining can be intimidating, especially when hosting a loved holiday like Thanksgiving, but you can have an enjoyable, easy holiday by prepping as much as physically possible ahead of time. I love to host holidays at my house, but it can be a lot of work! Through the years I’ve developed a system to keep my detail-oriented mind sane in the midst of entertaining. The house is cleaned the day before and tables are put together/decorated. I also get a head start on cooking by preparing pies, cranberry sauce, and casseroles the day before Thanksgiving; this step alone has saved me the panic of forgetting a dish or an ingredient last minute. The day of Thanksgiving is spent seasoning and roasting the turkey, baking casseroles, having a cup of tea (or wine), and enjoying time with family.

One of the things I am getting better with is asking people to help me in the kitchen. Sure, you could do all the work yourself, but if you have willing helpers why would you? In addition to asking family members to bring dishes to share, I am always on the look out for my next potato peeler; my most despised kitchen task. The second most daunting kitchen task is carving the turkey; no matter how many holidays and family dinners I host I still struggle to carve that bird like the Food Network chefs on T.V. My culinary dream would be a one on one poultry carving lesson with Ina Gartengoodness knows I need it! 

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In the spirit of prepping ahead, I want to share an easy and healthy holiday side dish that actually gets better by sitting in the fridge overnight. The salad is a combination of extremely thin shaved brussels sprouts and shredded kale tossed in a dreamy lemon vinaigrette and topped with dried cranberries and toasted pecans. Can it get any more fall-inspired than that?! Before you say “I don’t like brussels sprouts” please give it a chance! By using raw brussels sprouts they have no bitter or sulfuric taste like the overcooked nightmares of experiences past; I promise! Raw kale is a powerhouse of nutrition and is the perfect addition to the salad; it holds up to marinating in the dressing and lends great texture to the dish. Every few bites there’s a burst of sweetness from the dried cranberries (or dried cherries would be phenomenal, too) that keeps you coming back for more! I plan on serving this salad on Thanksgiving for a lighter, healthier side dish option. I also love to serve it with roasted or grilled chicken breast for a quick and nutrient-dense weeknight dinner. 

Give it a try! 

Ingredients

  • 8 stems kale, removed from the stem and finely shredded
  • 4 c. brussels sprouts, finely shredded
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries (or cherries)
  • 1/2 c. toasted chopped pecans 
  • salt/pepper, to taste

There are a couple options available when shredding vegetables. Many food processors come with shredding blades that make quick work of a large pile of veggies. A mandoline is a handheld slicer that results in paper thin shreds of brussels sprouts; that would be a great choice for this recipe also. If you do not have any of these devices just use a sharp knife to carefully slice the veggies as thin as you can; this is actually how I prepared the recipe (even though I have both of the other tools). It takes a little bit of time to shred all the vegetables, but the extra effort is worth it!

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Stack a few kale leaves on top of one another and roll into a cigar shape.

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Thinly slice to julienne the kale; repeat with remaining kale leaves.

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Peel the outer leaves of the brussels sprouts and very thinly slice.

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Add shredded kale and brussels sprouts to a large salad bowl.

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In a measuring cup add fresh lemon juice, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic, if using. Season with salt and pepper then whisk to combine.

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Pour the dressing onto the shredded vegetables and toss well.

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Top with cranberries and pecans; toss again.

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Cover and refrigerate for several hours, preferably overnight. When ready to serve give the salad one last toss; sometimes those cranberries sink to the bottom of the bowl!

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Healthy, beautiful, and delicious; it really doesn’t get any better than that! Enjoy! 

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