I have to say, the culinary comeback of the brussels sprout is pretty spectacular.  What trendy neighborhood spot worth its salt doesn’t have a roasted brussels sprout on their apps list?  Not many….

If you were a child of the 80s and 90s, you probably remember the unseasoned steamed variety.  I hated them.  I probably still would.  Who would want green steamed mush?  Or worse yet, when they weren’t all the way cooked and the parents demanded I eat my veggies.  Mush or partially raw woody sprouts?  Not sure which I hated more.

So with a million delicious varieties of roasted sprouts making a comeback in recent years,  myself and many other children of the 80s and 90s reintroduced ourselves to our old foe.  This time, on our own terms and to a much more delicious end!

So when thinly shaved raw brussels sprouts starting hitting salad plates, I winced at my undercooked sprout memories.  But, friends, thinly slicing or even shaving them with a manolin turns them into a whole other animal!

For a day like thanksgiving, brussels sprouts are not only in season, but are the perfect heartier green for tossing with salads!  They will hold up to dressing much better than say spinach, romaine, or arugula.  – especially for a holiday meal!  My family tends to graze and go back for seconds and thirds.  So, any salad served needs to hold up to being dressed and then sitting for a bit.  It won’t be consumed within 5 minutes flat like your typical dinner party…

Last year I had a major win with my kale pomegranate salad.  My kale hating Grandpa conceded that kale isn’t so bad.

This year, my goal is raw brussels sprouts and my weapon of choice is this zingy salad!!

Apples, dates, goat cheese, and my favorite candied pecans, drizzled with a lemony dijon and thyme vinaigrette!  It adds the perfect burst of bright fresh flavors to a notoriously carby day.

I could go on and on about apples and goat cheese and candied nuts… But, instead, let me just highlight this dressing: champagne vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, fresh thyme leaves, maple syrup, olive oil, and salt & pepper.  I love it!  Its simple, fresh and can be made a day or two ahead.

Pro-tip: This salad holds up well enough in the fridge the next day!  Top it with leftover turkey and call it lunch!!    

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples, Candied Pecans, and Dijon-Thyme Vinaigrette

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples, Candied Pecans, and Dijon-Thyme Vinaigrette

    For the salad:
  • About 6 cups thinly sliced or shaved brussels sprouts
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • generous pinch of each salt and pepper
  • 1 large tart-crisp apple (like fuji or opal), thinly sliced
  • 1 c. honey candied pecans
  • 1/4 c. chèvre goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4-5 thinly sliced pitted medjool dates
  • additional fresh thyme leaves for garnish
  • For the dressing:
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, removed from stems
  • 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. champagne vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

To assemble the dressing, place thyme leaves, garlic, and a pinch of salt at the bottom of a mortar and pestle and grind them together a bit.  Alternately, use the side of a knife on a cutting board to smash and chop them together.  We aren't looking for a paste-like consistency, but almost.  Then transfer to a mason jar.  Add dijon, maple syrup, lemon juice, and vinegar.  Use a fork to whisk them together.  Slowly drizzle in 3 tbsp. olive oil while whisking to emulsify.  Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.  Can be covered and stored in refrigerator up to 2 days ahead.

To assemble the salad, break up the sliced or shaved sprouts a bit with your fingers so that they are very ribbon-like rather than little discs.  Toss with lemon juice.  Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Then drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil and toss again.  This will season the sprouts and the acid in the lemon will help prevent them from being too "woody."  Its a simple but important step.

Top with sliced apples, dates, goat cheese, and candied pecans.  Dress and toss salad right before serving. Garnish with additional thyme leaves.

For a pro-presentation: reserve a few of your sliced apples and dates, goat cheese crumbles and candied pecans.  Add the remainder, dress and toss salad when ready to serve.  Then add reserved toppings in esthetically appealing manner and garnish with fresh thyme leaves.