Warm Brussels Sprout Salad

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I needed this salad this weekend. Despite the groundhog’s well-intentioned prediction, spring has yet to arrive in central North Carolina. The weather is cold, rainy and a bit depressing. I wanted salad, but it was too cold out for a traditional cold lettuce salad. So I was happy that I found fresh picked Brussels sprouts at the farmer’s market. They were the focus of a warm, roasted sprout salad that helped to elevate dinner from chilly to cozy. This was a big experiment, but it paid off–a (reasonably) healthy, warm salad that was satisfying and filling. I’ve made one adjustment here–I would definitely add a squeeze of lemon to lighten up the caramelized onions and bacon. We used only the zest, but I think the lemon juice would add a lot.

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad (serves 2-3)

3 cups cooked grains (quinoa, barley, rice)
1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts, washed cut in half, lengthwise
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 sweet onion, peeled and sliced thin
3 strips local, smoked bacon
1 cup new crop pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 lemon, zested and and juiced
Good quality balsamic vinegar
Kosher or sea salt and ground pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, gently stirring sprouts every 10 minutes.
While sprouts Re roasting, cook the bacon until crisp. Crumble bacon and set aside on paper towel to drain, reserving 2 tbsp of bacon fat in the pan.
Heat the pan over medium heat and add the sliced onions to the bacon fat and sauté for 20 minutes or so, until onions are caramelized. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When sprouts are roasted and browned on the edges, remove from oven.
In a large bowl, gently toss sprouts, onions, blue cheese, cranberries, crumbled bacon and pecans.
Divide cooked grains among serving bowls and top with warm salad mix.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon. Garnish with lemon zest. Serve immediately.

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