As I’m sitting here writing on a cold, rain-turning-to-sleet-and-snow-mix kind of day, I’m most definitely dreaming of warmer weather and of past vacation spots I wish I could time-warp to. My current thoughts have taken me back to a most fabulous trip we took with friends to the Napa Valley, where we ate and drank our way through the valley and had to roll our way back to the airport. Considering all the delectable food we ate, it may come as a surprise that one of the most memorable dishes I ordered was a warm Brussels sprouts salad. I created this Apple-Bacon Brussels Sprouts Salad as a simpler, more weeknight-friendly recipe inspired by the original I had in California.
While it may go without saying that the wine produced in the Napa Valley is some of the best wine, period, the food there is so exquisite I’d really have a hard timing saying whether I liked the wine or the food better. Yes to both, and please can I go back soon?!?
Seriously guys, some of the best chefs in the states have restaurants here – from Michael Chiarello’s “Botegga” (where we ate on Valentine’s Day and got to see chef Michael cooking!), to Richard Reddington’s “Redd Wood” (where we ate the inspiration salad for this post), to Thomas Keller’s “French Laundry” (which my wallet hasn’t quite worked up the nerve for yet!) and “Bouchon Bakery” (I DID wait in line here to get a selection of breakfast pastries for our group to enjoy on the way to our first winery one morning…TOTALLY worth every calorie!), the Napa Valley (and more specifically, Yountville, CA, which is where these restaurants are located), cooks like no other.
Ok…back to the salad. What we ate at Redd Wood was a combo of Brussels sprouts, frisee, other salad greens, buttery croutons, apple, burrata cheese, pancetta, a mustard-heavy dressing, and I’m sure several other ingredients. It was the perfect combination of sweet, savory, crispy, crunchy, and so incredibly packed with flavor. We all loved it and here is a photo I took of it in the restaurant (keep in mind it was dimly lit!).
I was never a huge fan of Brussels sprouts as a kid, and if this is you (I know you’re out there!), and you haven’t tried Brussels sprouts in a while, one bite of this Apple-Bacon Brussels Sprouts Salad just might make you a believer. When I first tried to make the salad, I started with whole, fresh Brussels sprouts, which worked well, but took quite a bit of time up front to trim and slice. For a weeknight salad, I didn’t want to take that kind of time, so the next time around I used Green Giant shaved fresh Brussels sprouts, which worked great.
One thing to keep in mind with this salad is that “less is more” when it comes to the cooking. While the salad we ate in Napa was warm, Brussels sprouts can overcook quickly, making the salad lose its zest. Another tip is to toss the warm salad with the vinegar at the very last minute since the Brussels sprouts will turn olive colored if they sit with the vinegar for too long.
This Apple-Bacon Brussels Sprouts Salad tastes great sprinkled with dried cranberries, finely shredded Parmesan cheese, and/or Honey-Roasted Pecans. See how I make the pecans in my recipe for Hand-Wilted Kale Apple Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans.
P.S. Heading to the Napa Valley? Find links to the restaurants I mentioned at the bottom of this post!
Apple-Bacon Brussels Sprouts Salad How-To Photos:
Cook chopped bacon until browned.
Transfer bacon from skillet with a slotted spoon; keep drippings in skillet.
Add slivered red onion; cook 2 minutes.
Add sliced apple; cook 2 minutes more.
Add shredded Brussels sprouts. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more.
Add bacon, fresh thyme, and salt. Toss; just before serving, toss the salad with cider vinegar.
Serve immediately so the sprouts don’t darken.
- 4 strips bacon, chopped
- ½ cup slivered red onion
- 1 medium cooking apple, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 9-ounce package shredded fresh Brussels sprouts (about 5 ½ cups)
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Honey-Roasted Pecans (optional)*
- In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until browned and just crisp, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
- Add onion to the same skillet. Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add apple; cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add Brussels sprouts; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes more or until sprouts are crisp-tender but still bright green.
- Remove from the heat. Add cooked bacon; sprinkle with thyme and salt. Toss to coat. Just before serving, drizzle with vinegar and toss quickly to coat. Serve immediately. This tastes great sprinkled with Honey-Roasted Pecans.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Arrange 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans on prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes or until very lightly browned. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon honey. Add 1 teaspoon refined coconut oil in a couple mounds. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Bake 1 minute more. Stir pecans to coat well. Bake about 2 minutes more or until nuts are toasted. Stir again. Cool on pan on a wire rack. Store any leftover pecans in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.
- 6 servings (2/3 cup per serving)
- 102 cals, 3 g pro, 9 g carb, 6 g fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 2 g sat fat, 3 g fiber, 204 mg sodium
Here are links to a few of the Yountville, CA restaurants we visited while in the Napa Valley: