This Brussels sprouts and kale salad is a plate of fresh deliciousness! Shredded Brussels sprouts, roasted fennel and kale make up the base, while chunks of salty bacon, crunchy walnuts and juicy pomegranate arils add even more flavor and differing textures. Top it all off with an easy maple bacon vinaigrette that is free of added sugar, and takes the whole of two minutes to make! This beautiful, light and low-carb recipe makes a wonderful holiday side.
Truth be told, I'm sort of obsessed with this kale salad recipe. I've been trying to incorporate fennel more into our meals, and roasted fennel has a lightly sweet, caramelized flavor that is extra pleasant in this Brussels sprouts and kale salad.
The maple bacon vinaigrette combines sweet and salty to perfection. Crunchy shreds of Brussels sprouts and thick strips of lacinto kale balance out the tender roasted fennel. And the walnuts and pomegranate add a richness and color that feels festive- the kind of "merry and bright" side dish you'd envision in the center of your holiday table. I know it will be on mine.
Better yet, this Brussels sprouts and kale salad works on so many levels, any time of year. If pomegranate isn't in season, may I suggest swapping in a few blueberries? Or add fresh cubes of apple if you're not too concerned about the carbs. My main point: salty bacon works with almost anything sweet, and you really can't go wrong here. 😉
ingredients for Brussels sprouts and kale salad
- Tuscan kale (also called lacinto kale)
- Brussels sprouts
- fennel bulb (plus fronds for garnish)
- olive oil
- high quality bacon plus reserved bacon grease
- pomegranate arils
- apple cider vinegar
- keto-friendly maple syrup (like Lakanto)
- salt and pepper
what is Tuscan kale?
Tuscan or lacinto kale (also called dinosaur kale) is more tender and mild in flavor than curly kale. It softens easier, especially once the dressing is on, and its lovely appearance makes it the perfect type of kale to use in salads.
You could swap in a different kind of kale, but I prefer Tuscan kale in this kale salad recipe. Since it's more mild in flavor, it's also a great kale variety to use when making a kale salad for a group since it may appeal more to any potential kale naysayers around your table. 😉
an epic kale salad recipe
This Brussels sprouts and kale salad may look fancy, but don't be fooled: it's an elegant yet effortless recipe. If you got tapped to be the salad person for the next holiday gathering, get excited because this is the salad you want to bring. It's easy to make, so good, and a recipe that everyone will ask for!
Here's how it's done:
- Cook the bacon. In a large skillet, cook the pieces of bacon until crispy. Set the cooked pieces of bacon aside, on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. When they've cooled enough to handle, chop them into bite-sized pieces. Do not discard the bacon grease in the pan- you will need it later.
- Roast the fennel. While the bacon is cooking, you can move on to this step. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the stalk of the fennel (reserve) and cut the base off the bulb of fennel. Slice it vertically, then slice those pieces in half (vertically) to get thin strips. Place them on a baking sheet, rub the olive oil over them, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges brown slightly.
- Massage the Brussels sprouts and kale. In a large bowl, combine the shaved Brussels sprouts and chopped lacinto kale. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil over the mix of greens and massage it for 1-2 minutes. This will help the kale soften. Place the kale in a serving bowl or on a serving platter.
- Assemble the Brussels sprouts and kale salad. When the fennel is done roasting, add it to the bed of greens. Top with the walnuts, pomegranate arils, bacon pieces, and fennel fronds (if you'd like it extra pretty).
how to make maple bacon vinaigrette
This maple bacon vinaigrette recipe requires less than five ingredients and only a couple of minutes to make:
- Combine the keto maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and bacon grease in a jar.
- Shake it well to combine, then taste it and adjust if needed.
- Spoon it over the salad or keep it separately on the side. I like to dish a little bit over the salad and serve it with more dressing on the side.
tips for making Brussels sprouts and kale salad
- How to shred the Brussels sprouts: A mandoline slicer makes shredding the Brussels sprouts a lot easier and keeps them uniform, but you can also slice them with a knife. Cut the ends off, cut them in half vertically, then place the half flat-side down on your cutting board. Make a triangular cut at the base to remove the thick core, then slice the Brussels sprout halve into thin shreds.
- How to prep kale: I prefer buying a whole head of Tuscan kale instead of using the pre-cut bags because I've found that most of the bags are cut kale that include the kale rib, that harder stem that runs through each leaf. To de-rib a kale leaf, lay it on a cutting board and fold the kale in half. Run the knife down the leaf, right where it attaches to the rib, and cut it away from the rib. Roll the leaf, then slice thin. Check out this Food 52 article to see the full technique!
This Brussels sprouts and kale salad with maple bacon dressing takes the obligatory holiday salad to a whole new level. Light and filling and packed with nutrients, it's just the kind of green dish you need amidst a sea of holiday comfort foods. Fresh greens forever. Enjoy, friends.
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- This roasted winter salad is one of the first recipes I shared on Stem and Spoon, and it still remains a favorite. Roasted yet fresh, and served with pomegranate and salty feta.
- 6 thick-cut pieces of bacon (opt for high-quality, reserve bacon grease)
- 1 fennel bulb (save fennel fronds for topping salad)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale (also called lacinto kale)
- ½ pound Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- ½ cup walnuts
maple bacon vinaigrette
- 3 tablespoons keto-friendly maple syrup (like Lakanto)
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease (reserve after cooking bacon)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Heat a large skillet over medium. When hot, add the bacon pieces to the pan and cook the bacon until crisp, about 4 minutes per side. Set the cooked pieces of bacon aside, on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. When they've cooled enough to handle, chop them into bite-sized pieces. Do not discard the bacon grease in the pan- you will need it later.
- While the bacon is cooking, prep the fennel. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the stalk of the fennel (reserve the fronds) and cut the base off the bulb of fennel. Slice it vertically, then slice those pieces in half (vertically) to get thin strips. Place them on a baking sheet, rub 2 tbsp olive oil over them, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges brown slightly.
- While the fennel roasts, prepare the rest of the salad. Shred the Brussels sprouts and cut the kale (see recipe notes for how-tos). Toss the kale and shredded sprouts into a large mixing bowl and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over the greens. Massage the kale/Brussels mixture for 1-2 minutes to soften the leaves. Place them in a serving bowl or on a platter.
- Add the roasted fennel to the bed of greens. Top it with the walnuts, pomegranate, bacon pieces and fennel fronds.
- To make the maple bacon vinaigrette, combine the keto maple syrup, bacon grease, olive oil and apple cider vinegar in a jar. Close the lid and shake to mix.
- Pour the maple bacon vinaigrette over the salad right before serving or keep it on the side.
How to shred the Brussels sprouts:
- Use a mandoline slicer for efficiency and to keep them more uniform, but if you don't have one, you can slice them with a knife, too. Cut them in half vertically, then place the half flat-side down on your cutting board. Make a triangular cut at the base to remove the thick core, then slice the Brussels sprout halve into thin shreds.
How to prep kale:
- Tip: buy a bunch of kale instead of pre-cut kale since the bags of pre-cut are not always de-ribbed. To de-rib a kale leaf, lay it on a cutting board and fold the kale in half. Run the knife down the leaf, right where it attaches to the rib, and cut it away from the rib. Roll the leaf, then slice thin.
For the prettiest salad assembly, arrange the greens on a large, shallow platter and place toppings on the salad in sections, preferably in odd numbers. Example: group the roasted fennel on top in three sections, then add the bacon in sections around that, and spoon the arils in five different sections spread across the greens. Odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye and the salad will look prettier than if it was all tossed together in a bowl.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 321Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 117mgCarbohydrates: 10gNet Carbohydrates: 7gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g
This nutritional information is approximate and is provided for convenience as a courtesy.