Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wilted Brussel Sprout Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Fall.... The leaves are changing, the air is brisk, the Windows are open and aaahhchoo-- allergies. My spring allergies are a cake walk compared to the fall. I love this time of year though. Honestly I do.  Pumpkins are everywhere, mums are being planted, and Halloween is right around the corner. 

Halloween... It's a conundrum this year. It's on a Saturday which normally I would be a big fan of, but this particular Saturday is going to be nuts in Lexington. Why, you ask? Well, Keeneland will be packed to the brim with the Breeders Cup during the day. Have you been to Keeneland? You really should make the trip. It's gorgeous. Especially in the fall.  Plus, that evening is the UK/Tennessee game. So, do I buy candy or nah? I cannot have a bunch of leftover Halloween candy laying around because I WILL eat it. All of it. I have a strict rule about letting anything go to waste. Yes, even things that are not good for me. 

Can we take a moment and discuss the fact that pumpkin flavor/scents are taking over the world? I don't really understand the obsession. I like a pumpkin scented candle or pumpkin flavored dessert as much as the next person but scented cat litter? Chewing gum? Really? Let's take it down a notch, America. I'm aware we're the land of excess, but let's restrain ourselves with the pumpkin-palooza that is ev-e-ry-where.  Let me know the strangest pumpkin/fall scented item you've ever seen.  I get great joy from this. 

What do I suggest we focus on? Obviously, brussel sprouts. They're only my favorite thing ever. Do not rolls your eyes at me. Or stick out your tongue. Or make fake gagging noises. Brussel sprouts are delicious. I will admit that they are an acquired taste and they aren't for everyone but just try them! Puhleeeaaase? If you're thinking about making them for the first time, I recommend this recipe. Bacon, brown sugar slowly caramelizing as it roasts--'nuff said.

I was thinking about salads the other day. Mostly I was thinking about how bored I am with them. Fall is a great time to shake things up. It takes a little creativity to make food interesting this time of year. Especially the closer you get to winter. The seasonal, colorful vegetables of the summer become extinct, making way for the muted, yet equally beautiful fall and winter staples.  Squash being the most popular. Guess what else is a good cooler weather crop? Yeah. You're right. 

Here are a few things I learned while making this mouth watering salad:  when trying to measure hot bacon grease, don't use plastic measuring spoons. You are welcome.  I recommend transferring all of it to a bowl. Also, make sure you wipe down the sides and bottom of the skillet really good. You're probably going to use this pan again when you quickly saute the sliced brussel sprouts and you probably don't want to be putting out a fire in the process.  Use a mandolin or food processor to slice the brussel sprouts. It will take you a while to slice these with a knife but if you're hand is starting to get lazy, go ahead and give it a workout.  Just BE CAREFUL.  That's really all I got. 

Wilted Brussel Sprouts Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Serves 4 

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, grease reserved
1 pound brussel sprouts, sliced
1 gala Apple, julienned 
1/2 cups toasted walnuts, roughly chopped 

For the Dressing

3 tablespoons bacon grease
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons honey

Preheat a skillet over medium low heat. Feel free to use the same skillet that bacon was cooked in. Quickly saute brussel sprouts for about 4 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and transfer to salad bowl. 

Add apples, walnuts and bacon bits. 

Combine the dressing ingredients into a jar. Shake to combine. Pour dressing over the brussel sprouts and toss.

Enjoy as a delicious side with any meal! 

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