This brussels sprouts salad is a true treat. It has the tender bite of a brussels sprout, the crisp of the bacon bits and the sweet crunch of the candied walnuts. When all these ingredients are mixed together with the sweet balsamic dressing, it truly feels like a holiday.
This salad is best served warm so if you wanted to, you can make the dressing, crisp the bacon and candy the walnuts ahead of time and keep in air-tight containers. Then you would only have to cook the brussels sprouts and mix all the components together for a fresh, warm salad. Enjoy!
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Candied Walnuts
1 bag brussels sprouts (25-30 brussels sprouts)
6 bacon pieces, cut into 1/2 inch bits
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 cup whole walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flavorless oil (such as canola or grapeseed)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1. In your largest pan over medium heat (with lid), cook the bacon until crispy. (Low and slow heat prevents most, but not all, of the splatter). Place the cooked bacon bits on a paper-towel lined plate and set aside. Discard the oil rendered from the bacon, but do not wipe pan.
2. Prepare the brussels sprouts. Cut off a thin slice off the stump of the sprouts and remove any loose leafs. Cut each sprout in half. Turn the heat back to medium and add 2 tablespoons oil, brussels sprouts and 1 teaspoon of salt.* Cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt, add as needed.
3. While brussels sprouts cook, add the walnuts and the 1/4 cup sugar to a medium non-stick pan and cook over medium-low heat tossing the walnuts in the sugar. Do not leave the walnuts unattended as they can burn easily. When all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat immediately. Let them sit in the hot pan until salad assembly.
4. To make dressing, combine brown sugar, salt, Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Slowly add in the 1/3 cup olive oil, whisking constantly to get a smooth mixture.
5. Assemble the salad: Toss the brussels sprouts, bacon bits, candied walnuts and most of the feta cheese (reserve a little for garnish) with the dressing until everything is coated. Garnish with remaining feta. Enjoy!
*You can keep the bacon oil and cook the sprouts in it instead of adding flavorless oil, but this will give the entire salad a bacon flavor.