Brussels Holiday Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Brussels Holiday Salad - vert

I used to work for a large catering company years ago. During the winter holidays, there was always a “holiday salad” on the menu which at the time, struck me a little odd. It was a beautiful salad of different lettuces, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, wine poached pears, nuts, pomegranate seeds, etc., but I typically don’t associate a green salad with winter holidays.

Well clearly, “holiday salad” has always stuck in my mind, but I wanted to bring my own seasonal interpretation. Grilled (or roasted) Brussels sprouts, radicchio, and fennel tossed with fresh pear, toasted pecans and pomegranate seeds. All of which gets tossed with a lovely maple vinaigrette that really plays well with the more bitter Brussels and radicchio… plus enhancing the sweetness of the other ingredients.

This salad is designed to be served warm or at room temperature, so you can get it done a couple hours before dinner and let it set or it would be really perfect for a holiday buffet.

Brussels Holiday Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

serves six to ten

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, yellow leaves removed and stems trimmed
1 head radicchio, quartered through the root end
1 large fennel bulb, stems removed and quartered through the root end
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 just ripe pears (not too ripe)
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

For Maple Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons real maple syrup, preferably Grade B
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 medium shallot, very finely chopped
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extras: grilling grid

Method: direct heat

Preheat grill and grid for direct grilling over medium heat. Lightly brush grate with oil before grilling.

Brussels Holiday Salad raw

Place the Brussels sprouts, radicchio and fennel on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little oil (start with a tablespoon) and season with salt and pepper. Toss vegetable separately until they are lightly coated. Place Brussels sprouts on the grill and cook for 10 minutes, tuning frequently. Add the fennel and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Add the radicchio and cook for 5 minutes – be sure to turn and grill all sides of the vegetables. Transfer back to the sheet pan.

Brussels Holiday Salad cooked

Peel off any overly black and crispy leaves from the Brussels sprouts – a little char is good. Quarter (or half, if they are small) the Brussels, chop the radicchio and slice the fennel; add to mixing bowl. Peel and dice the pears and add to the bowl along with half of the pecans and pomegranate seeds.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, and shallot. Whisk in the oil 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Toss salad with vinaigrette and transfer to a serving platter (this presents best on a platter). Top with the remaining toasted pecans and pomegranate seeds.

Brussels Holiday Salad h1

Cheers and Happy Grilling!
~Jeff

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