This kale and Brussels sprouts salad is a vibrant combination of zingy raw greens, sweetly spiced nuts, and crisp apple tossed in a honey-mustard vinaigrette. Healthy, delicious, and you can even make it ahead of time.
We’ll celebrate a pan of perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts with crisped edges and a subtly sweet caramelized taste as much as anyone. But when we’re itching to venture beyond the usual, this brilliant winter salad is our answer. Able to make it in advance? Suitable to serve at room temperature? Scalable for a crowd? Check, check, and check. Best yet, this stunning toss of zingy raw greens, sweetly spiced nuts, and crisp apple tastes phenomenal. And, bonus, it can easily be made vegan. –Jenny Howard
☞ Table of Contents
Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad
For the sweet-and-spicy nuts
- 1 cup mixed nuts or seeds such as walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and/or sunflower seeds, toasted and chopped
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Pinch cayenne pepper or more for extra spice
- Pinch kosher salt
For the honey-mustard vinaigrette
- Grated zest and juice from 1 large lemon preferably organic
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey or more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad
- 12 ounces fresh Brussels sprouts
- 4 large Lacinato kale leaves stemmed
- 4 Medjool dates pitted and chopped
- 1/2 Granny Smith apple or other tart firm apple, cored and thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste
For serving (optional)
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese and/or 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (8 g)
Make the sweet-and-spicy nuts
- In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, toss the nuts, butter, sugar, cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted, the sugar dissolves, and the nuts are completely coated, about 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to piece of parchment or wax paper to cool. Before using, break them apart. (You’ll have more candied nuts than you need for the recipe. Since when has that ever been a problem? Extras keep, covered at room temperature, for up to several days and make a lovely nosh alongside cocktails. They’re also pretty terrific atop ice cream.)
Make the honey-mustard vinaigrette
- In a large bowl, combine at least 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and about 4 tablespoons lemon juice. Add the shallot, whole-grain mustard, Dijon mustard, vinegar, honey, and salt. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the ingredients according to personal preference. (If you prefer a less acidic dressing, consider adding a touch more honey, but keep in mind that the pronounced lemon stands up quite nicely to the earthy greens.)
Make the salad
- In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse the Brussels sprouts 10 to 15 times, until just shredded, being careful not to pulverize them into tiny bits. Transfer to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Add the kale leaves to the food processor and pulse 4 to 6 times, until shredded, again being careful not to chop too finely.
- In the large bowl with the vinaigrette and Brussels sprouts, add the shredded kale along with the dates, apple, salt, and pepper. Toss thoroughly to coat in dressing. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 12 hours before serving.
To serve (optional)
- Toss the salad with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Transfer the salad to a shallow serving bowl and garnish with a handful of sweet-and-spicy nuts, and, if desired, more pepper and shaved Parmesan.
Not Into Brussels Sprouts?Make the entire salad with kale. Or even shredded green cabbage. Either sturdy green leafy things will do well in a salad recipe such as this in which the greens are doused with the vinaigrette and then left to rest for at least a couple hours so the leaves can soften somewhat.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I really enjoyed this kale and Brussels sprouts salad and can see making it part of the regular rotation at dinner. I did add some red cabbage to the mix, just because I had some, and quickly shredded it with my food processor.
I made the spiced nuts and am glad I did; they are just so good. I used a combination of sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I wouldn’t skimp on these—they are delicious eaten out of hand and definitely didn’t last long before the dish was empty.
The dressing was perfect as well. With enough acidity and sweetness, it works nicely with the apples and works as an effective marinade for these tougher greens. I did have my doubts about marinating the apples, as I thought they would get mushy. I used a Honeycrisp, however, and it stood up to my 6-hour marinade beautifully.
I think the only thing I would change is to omit the Parmesan next time and instead use a little more salt on the nuts. I didn’t find that the cheese added much. This salad is just as good without it, I think.
All in all, I quite enjoyed this hearty winter salad and look forward to making it again.
I was excited to get started on this salad as all the ingredients sounded yummy to me. But when I read the directions, I had my doubts that this would really work. Everything told me that it wouldn’t work, so I set out to prove this recipe wrong.
Against my better judgement, I threw whole Brussels sprouts into the food processor and waited for disaster to occur. After 5 short pulses of about 3 seconds each, I had perfectly shredded sprouts. Not a hard bit of the core was left intact. OK, I said to myself, but what about throwing kale leaves into the processor, not in a million years would that work. Again, after 5 short pulses of 3 seconds each, I had a lovely pile of shredded Lacinato kale. I guess my better judgement was way off! I am thankful to know that I never have to “hand shred” Brussels sprouts and kale again!
To start at the beginning, though, the sweet and spicy nuts are super easy to make. I used walnuts and pecans. You may want to amp up the cayenne. I used about 1/8th teaspoon and the heat level was barely there.
The dressing is lovely as is. I thought it would be too much to use it all, but I went for it and it was perfect. I let the salad marinate about an hour and a half before we ate and the veggies were at once tender and crisp. Served at room temp. Plenty left for lunch the next day without any compromise on quality.
I honestly didn’t feel that the Parmesan was a necessary element and I would not add it next time. I’m looking forward to making this again, though, maybe increasing the dates by a few more. And don’t skip the nuts!
This kale and Brussels sprout salad took me the better part of an hour to make, even with the quick work of a processor, so maybe not a good plan for a busy weeknight.
This is a great option for Brussels sprouts. The crunchy sweet and spicy nuts along with the thinly sliced apple, really gave this salad a lot of appeal tastewise and visually! It’s a great side dish and one that is easily vegan by omitting the Parmesan. The nuts could be left off but they really take so little time to prepare and are so good as part of this salad.
The honey mustard vinaigrette was far too acidic. I ended up using 2 Tbsp of honey to balance it out. The vinaigrette come through strongly in the finished salad and I think this needs more sweet hits—extra honey, dates, and I believe a Fuji apple would be a plus.
I wouldn’t miss the Parmesan if it was omitted. As for the nuts, I don’t think there will be any extra. They came out great!
Wow. A really nice new thing to do with Brussels sprouts. And can easily be made vegan for some of our Thanksgiving guests. And made ahead, served at room temperature or cold, and lasts for days without losing flavor. Genius for this busy time of year and those times when your oven and range are full of roasts and stuffings and pies.t?
I did make the nuts (pepitas and walnuts) and they were a perfect accompaniment, giving more crunch and sweet to the very veggie forward dish.
Oddly enough, the strongly flavored vinaigrette went to the background with the sprouts, kale, nuts, and cheese—in a good way. I originally thought it might be too strong for the salad.
I used the thinnest shredding disc of my food processor as I was worried that I might overprocess the veggies and it worked out fine.
I used a Granny Smith apple and Medjool dates which worked well.
On the first night (about 30 minutes of marinating), everything was wonderful. We tried it with and without the cheese as we were hoping to use this at Thanksgiving for our vegan guests. My wife strongly preferred it with the cheese, I thought the cheese added little to the strongly flavored salad.
I have now been snacking on it for 4 days, both straight from the fridge and after letting it come to room temperature. The apples have never browned and the sprouts have stayed almost as crunchy as day 1. That is what makes this such a winner for me. Perfect to make for potlucks, holiday feasts, vegetarians, vegans and it keeps so, so well.
A great salad. The flavors all complemented each other. There were bright notes from the lemon and the apple, sweet and spicy crunch from the nuts, chewy bits from the dates, and earthiness from the cheese that made us want to keep going back for more. Even though there was no major protein component in the dish itself, it could easily be the main attraction served with a warm, crusty loaf of bread.
The next instruction that gave me pause was to use the blade rather than the disk to shred the sprouts. There’s a fine line between shredded and pulverized and I almost crossed it. My guess is that the disk would be a better choice for the sprouts, and the blade for the kale, along with putting small amounts in at a time to ensure the result is shredded leaves rather than a mix of shredded and pulverized. So I would substitute the disk for the blade for the sprouts and pulse the kale leaves no more than 4 times.
My taster suggested cutting the apple into medium dice rather than slices so that it’s easier to scoop up on a fork.
I used pumpkins seeds and pecans.
Love this salad! I love salads that use shaved brussels sprouts and this is one that I will be making again. It is easily adaptable and scalable depending on how much you need. I really liked the addition of the kale as it added an extra element plus it added color!
I made this without the nuts but next time I would make them as I ended up adding some roasted walnuts because I wanted something crunchy as part of the salad. Also, I decided to try this with some Granny smith slices and pink lady just to see which one I liked more. I actually liked the pink lady better as it wasn’t so tart.
Marinated this for 2 hours and then tried it again the following day—still great!
It is very quick. It takes much more time to clean the processor than it does to do the chopping!
Skeptical though I was about blitzing whole Brussels and then leafy kale in the food processor, this salad—really almost a slaw—was an all-around hit. In fact, I made it twice in 2 weeks. Perfect at the holiday table, its tart and zingy dressing, sweet fruit, and blast of green-on-green fit right in. Since there were various dietary restrictions at the table, I skipped adding the cheese, intending to pass it at the table, but it wasn’t missed.
The nuts are easily made ahead a couple days, stored in a jar. I upped the cayenne to 1/8 teaspoon to balance the sweetness, which was nice. It cools to a brittle consistency, so I crumbled it and ran a knife thru the bigger bits. A half recipe of the nuts is just about right for the entire bowl of salad. The dressing is adaptable enough to meet my pantry requirements—not having Champagne vinegar, I recommend apple cider vinegar or white wine (tried both). Fresh out of Dijon mustard, I used simple yellow mustard and threw in a heaping 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder for that zing.
My last recommendation is to use restraint on the lemon zest. I was glad I’d only zested half the lemon, not wanting to overpower the flavors.
Though the finished salad held very well for a number of hours, the green brightness and crunch is best the first day. It doesn’t lose flavor however, and is a welcome lunch for a couple days after serving. Speaking of servings, one recipe was enough for a large gathering with lots of side dishes but as part of a smaller meal would serve 4 to 6.
I can never find lacinato kale for a decent price. Curly worked great. I recommend a really crisp, juicy apple like honey crisp. I liked diced bits more than sliced. I skipped the cheese. I decreased the olive oil to 1/4 cup the second time. It was more flavorful this way.
First time I made this, it marinated only about 20 minutes. Second time, about 4 hours. Both were great. Stores well for a few days, losing texture and green vibrancy, but still super tasty.
To serve buffet style, like I did, I tossed all together with nuts and pepper on top. Meant to serve cheese on the side with a grater but oh well.
This was really a great salad and I intend to make it over and over. Thanks!!!
I often forget that Brussels sprouts are also very good raw as a salad. The part of this salad that truly took me by surprise, though, was how well the kale blended into it. Kale isn’t one of our favorite greens, especially raw, but in this salad we enjoyed it.
With the many spectacular flavor components and a good variety of textures, I couldn’t recommend this recipe more highly. I would certainly serve this to company for a holiday meal, or make it just for ourselves on a weeknight.Caroline Chambers
The sweet and spicy nuts added something special to this salad, and are also fantastically addictive for snacking. I’m not sure I will have a chance to use them in another application as I keep eating them by the handful.
I blitzed the Brussels sprouts 20 times to shred them well. There were still some that were nearly whole, but this got most of them to the desired size without pulverizing them. In the future, I would probably use the shedding disk of my food processor to cut them up.
I let the salad marinate for 2 hours. We also ate it as leftovers for lunch for 2 days following the day it was made. I liked it best on the 1st and 2nd days while my husband liked it best on the 3rd day.
I really loved the nuts. You have sweet from the apples and dates and the nuts add a different kind of crunch than the greens and their nutty flavor brings more interest to the other elements. I found it to be a very quick part of the recipe, and one that can be done ahead of time with no trouble.
Originally published December 21, 2018