Every Thanksgiving table needs a raw, crunchy, acidic side to balance out all of the heavy stuff. This salad accomplishes that goal while still feeling indulgent and satisfying. We’re using the blender to finely chop our kale and brussels and then tossing it in a creamy goat cheese dressing. Then it gets topped with tangy cranberries, crunchy nuts, sweet crisp apples, and smoky salty bacon crumbles. It’s so delicious and looks beautiful!
Brussels sprouts! are super high in folic acid, vitamin C + K, and beta-carotene. They also contain glucosinolates, which are cancer-fighting phytochemicals. These miniature cabbages are nutrient-dense powerhouses.
- 8-10 oz bacon (or about ½ cup cooked finely chopped bacon)
- 4 cups blender kale (1 small bunch)
- 10 oz brussels sprouts, trimmed (3 cups once blended)
- ½ cup dried cranberries*
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar*
- ½ cup toasted pecans, chopped (or make spiced nuts below)**
- 1 apple, chopped or cut into thin matchsticks
For the dressing:
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 (4 oz) log goat cheese (about 1 cup crumbled)
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
Sweet n’ Smoky Spiced Nuts (optional)**:
- 1 cup chopped raw walnuts and/or pecans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- *Soaking the cranberries in vinegar plumps them up and makes them a little tangy, but you could skip this step.
- **The salad is delicious with simply chopped toasted pecans. If you’re skipping the bacon, I’d recommend making the Sweet n’ Smoky Nuts (plus you’ll have leftovers to nibble on).
- Make ahead tips: ~ cook the bacon, blend up your kale and brussels, make the dressing, toast the nuts, and soak the cranberries ahead. Then all you have to do is mix in the dressing, chop up the apple, and assemble. If the dressing gets too thick in the fridge, let it come to room temp and/or stir in a small splash of water if needed.
- To cook the bacon: preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Arrange the bacon slices on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, then flip and bake for 5-10 more minutes, or until the bacon is very crispy (this will depend on the thickness). Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to cool, then roughly chop it or chop it finely.
- To make the nuts (optional): preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Add the nuts, oil, maple, spices, and salt and toss to coat. Spread into an even layer and bake for 7-9 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until fragrant and toasted. Remove and let cool completely.
- For the dressing: rinse out the blender. Add all of the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. If it’s not blending well, add a splash of water (no more than 1 tablespoon).
- For the cranberries (optional, see note): add cranberries to a small microwavable bowl and pour the vinegar over top. Microwave for 30 seconds, then let the cranberries soak in the liquid for 10-30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- For the salad: add kale (stems removed) to a blender and blend until finely chopped, using a tamper tool to encourage blending. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the trimmed brussel sprouts to the blender and blend until finely chopped. Transfer to the bowl.
- To assemble: Add about ¾ of the dressing to the kale/brussels and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle the remaining dressing over top. Top with cranberries, apples, bacon, and nuts.
Items you can prep ahead (optional)
- Cook 8-10 oz bacon and finely chop
- Blend 4 cups worth kale (1 small bunch)
- Trim, then blend 3 cups worth brussels sprouts (from about 10 oz)
- Soak cranberries in vinegar
- Toast ½ cup toasted pecans, then chop (or make spiced nuts)
- Make the dressing
- To make vegan, skip the bacon (make the smoky nuts) and skip the goat cheese all together. Just shake the dressing together in a jar until emulsified.
- You could use all brussels or all kale or use any ratio you want, just make sure you have 7 cups worth.
- To make nut-free, use toasted pumpkin seeds. You can also use any other toasted nut like walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts.
- Use pear instead of apple.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge:
- The assembled salad will last up to 4 days
- Leftover dressing: up to 6 days
- Cranberries: up to 7 days
Leftovers + Repurposing:
- Like most salads, I like this best when it’s closer to room temperature but you can also just eat it right out of the fridge. If you have more toppings on hand, add some fresh apples, nuts, etc… on top.
- If the dressing gets too thick in the fridge, let it come to room temp and/or stir in a small splash of water if needed.
- If you have extra dressing leftover, make more salad with it or drizzle it over roasted veggies or chicken.