Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Salad

Mushy, gross and buttered mini cabbages — this is what Brussels sprouts were to me as a child. In fact, I LOATHED anytime my parents made me finish my plate with these steamed-in-a-bag vegetables. Fast forward to Elizabeth upon finally trying crispy, roasted Brussels sprouts: this is what it meant to eat this delicious vegetable. The key to any food, but most importantly, Brussels sprouts, is to master the art of not over-cooking and allowing the dish to have texture.

I am usually a roast or sauté kind of Brussels sprouts person, but when I saw fresh shaved Brussels sprouts at my local Lidl in North Augusta, I knew I had to try! There are SO many possibilities with this simple ingredient. You can sauté, add as a featured ingredient to a pizza, make a slaw or in my case, make a simple salad with yummy ingredients.

I started making this with intentions to make the standard dish, but dress it with pesto instead of a pesto vinaigrette. Well, sometimes mistakes happen for a good reason. It turns out, I did not have enough ingredients to fill my food processor (silly me), so I thought on my feet. The result? A lemony pesto vinaigrette was born.

This salad is so light and simple, but packs SO much flavor. You can enjoy this as a side dish, appetizer or entree.

Ingredients

(For the salad)
3 cups shaved Brussels sprouts
4 slices bacon
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
Shaved parmesan (optional)

(For the vinaigrette)
1 cup fresh basil
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup parmesan
1 tablespoon of walnuts (traditional recipe calls for pine nuts)
salt/pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt/pepper, to taste

Begin by preheating the oven to 400. Place the bacon strips on a baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes, or until crispy. While the bacon is cooking, placed the shaved Brussels sprouts into a medium mixing bowl. Thinly slice the shallots and add to the Brussels sprouts. For the walnuts, you can buy already toasted or quickly season with salt and pepper and toast in a skillet on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Chop the nuts and add half to the salad. Once the bacon is finished, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

While the bacon is sitting, you can prepare the pesto vinaigrette. Note: this can also be prepared ahead of time. Roughly chop the basil and walnuts, place in blender, food processor or you can use a pestle and mortar. Freshly grate the cheese, add to the basil and walnuts. Last but not least, finely chop the garlic and add to the mixture. Blend these ingredients together to very finely chop and form a loose paste. If blending, add to a bowl. Slowly add the olive oil to the paste and whisk together. Add the lemon juice and continue to whisk. Season with salt and pepper to you liking.

Chop the bacon and add half to the salad. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat. Place the salad in a serving dish. Top with the remaining walnuts, bacon, shaved parmesan and fresh, sliced basil. Enjoy!

Elizabeth Canas