I know I’m spoiled here in Southern California with mild temps year-round. Deep into October, I’m usually wearing shorts and a tank top, smoothie in hand, while the department store mannequins are modeling cozy wool sweaters, and my Pinterest feed is inundated with soups and stews.
It’s the beginning of November and I only just now wore my first sweater of the season. So salads like this are on repeat for me, allowing me to feel like it’s fall before the temperatures cool and the leaves begin to drop. And even when the weather does change — we’ve seen a glimpse in the last few days — sometimes I want something to balance November’s comfort foods.
So here is a salad that highlights the best of fall produce. I started with very thinly shaved brussels sprouts, slivers of apple, and pomegranate seeds, all recent arrivals to the farmers markets. And I love adding grains to my salads — it turns a side dish into a full meal, and provides a chewy texture to balance the crunch of raw veggies — so here I chose to incorporate wild rice for its smoky, nutty taste, and the visual contrast it provides on the plate. (If you don’t already add a scoop of grains to your green salads, you should try it. Promise you’ll be hooked!). Then I finished this salad with walnuts, because, well, fall.
As we get deeper into the season I’ll be roasting this same produce and enjoying the sweetness of their caramelized flavors. But even so, I’m still planning on bringing this salad to Thanksgiving dinner. It’ll be a bright spot among a lineup of dishes laden with butter and cream.
A few technical notes about the sprouts: I’ve found that when I hold them by their stem, and slice very thinly crosswise (discarding the piece of stem remaining in my hand), they become a whole new vegetable. The bitterness mellows, and they easily absorb the flavors of the dressing. Sliced this way, they are much easier to chew, digest, and enjoy than bagged brussels sprout salads you find in the supermarket. Recently, I made a salad similar to this one for a dinner party, slicing the brussels sprouts by hand as described above, and my friend Paige asked me three separate times whether the greens were in fact brussels sprouts. Was I sure I hadn’t used something else?
And most importantly, the pomegranate: the key to separating the red arils from the white pulp is to open the fruit in a bowl filled with water. Using your thumb, break through the red skin in a soft spot near the top, and tear the fruit apart into a few pieces. As you work to release the arils from the flesh, they will sink to the bottom while the white bits rise to the top.
I dressed this salad with a simple vinaigrette of champagne vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, and olive oil. This is basically my go-to vinaigrette, and I use all different types of vinegars here, so feel free to sub in red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or any other specialty vinegar you may like. The brussels sprouts hold up remarkably well, even when dressed, so the salad will make excellent leftovers on day two. If you can plan ahead, toss your apple slivers with lemon juice so they avoid browning overnight.
Brussels Sprout and Wild Rice Salad
The key to this perfect fall salad is slicing the Brussels sprouts very thinly. The result is delicious!
- 3/4 pound brussels sprouts sliced very thinly crosswise
- 1 apple cut into slivers (toss with lemon juice if you plan on enjoying the salad a second time around)
- 1 pomegranate arils separated and flesh discarded
- 1 cup cooked wild rice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup champagne Vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
Mix dressing ingredients well. Toss salad ingredients and coat in dressing before serving.