This mouthwatering Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Maple Vinaigrette is the perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors, fresh vegetables, juicy fruit, and toasted nuts ... and it's so easy to make!
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I don't know about you, but I love healthy, yet hearty salads. Especially at this time of year, when fall is almost here, but it still feels like summer.
Kale salads are my favorite, and I'm always tweaking the ingredients, trying to find that perfect combination of flavors. And this Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad just might be it!
This easy recipe is bursting with the most crave-worthy sweet and savory flavors. There's juicy fruit, fresh vegetables, and warm, toasted nuts, plus an amazing (and easy to make) Maple Vinaigrette that is absolutely irresistible.
You're going to love this versatile salad! Enjoy it as a light meal or as a tasty side dish for any lunch or dinner. It would even make a great addition to your holiday table ... I've served it for Thanksgiving, and it was a hit!
Best of all ... it's so simple to make! Keep reading for all the delicious details.
This Brussels Sprout Kale Salad is easy to prepare, yet the flavors are so special. It was inspired by a salad I tried at an event a few years ago ... I loved it so much that I recreated it as soon as I got home.
Here's what you'll need to make it:
For the Salad
- Pecan Halves
- Brussels Sprouts
- Red Grapes
For the Maple Dressing
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Maple Syrup
- Cayenne (optional, but so tasty here!)
- Salt and Pepper (I use Kosher salt.)
Pretty basic, right? I recommend using Lacinato Kale (sometimes called Tuscan Kale or Dinosaur Kale), which has flat, dark green leaves for this recipe. Curly Kale will work perfectly fine though if you can't find Lacinato.
As far as the apple goes, choose something crisp and juicy, like Fuji, Braeburn, Honey Crisp, or Granny Smith.
I didn't realize it when I created this recipe, but it's pretty similar to Cracker Barrel's Kale Salad. If you want to replicate that recipe, simply replace the apples and grapes with ½ cup dried cranberries.
You could also replace the fresh fruit with dried fruit and swap other nuts for the pecans. Or take the flavors in a more savory direction by replacing the fruit with roasted sweet potatoes or pumpkin.
How to Make Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
Okay, let's talk about how to make this salad, because it couldn't be easier!
You'll start by toasting the pecans in a skillet over medium heat. Toasting brings out the nut's flavor and make them extra crunchy. Make sure to stir often, and watch the nuts closely so they don't burn.
Next, you'll prepare the Maple Dressing ... you're going to want to use this vinaigrette in every salad once you learn how easy it is to make! It's a little sweet, a little spicy, and pulls all the flavors of this salad together perfectly.
Simply combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a small bowl (or measuring cup). Then, whisk everything together until the vinaigrette is well mixed.
Tip: this dressing is mildly spicy, but you can skip the cayenne (or add less) if you prefer. Also, I used one teaspoon kosher salt to make this dressing. If you're using table salt, you'll probably need less, so make sure to add it to taste.
To prep the Brussels sprouts for this recipe, trim the ends and remove any browned leaves. Then, thinly slice them about ⅛-inch thick.
Add the shredded Brussels sprouts to a large bowl, gently separating the leaves with your fingers as you do. Don't worry if you don't get all the leaves. They'll break up more when you massage the dressing into the salad.
Remove the kale leaves from the their stems, and slice the leaves about ¼- to ½-inch thick. Add the kale to the Brussels sprouts, then pour the dressing over the salad.
Stick your hands into the bowl and massage the dressing into the kale and sprouts for about two to three minutes. As you work the dressing into the greens, they will soften and decrease in volume. Don't skip this step ... it really tenderizes the raw veggies and makes them more pleasant to eat and easier digest.
Make sure to wash your hands well after massaging the salad. You don't want to get any of that cayenne in your eyes!
Tip: to easily remove kale leaves from their stems, grasp the stem firmly in one hand, then quickly pull your other hand down the stem, removing the leaf. Don’t worry if the leaves end up looking a little ragged ... you won’t notice it after slicing them.
To finish the salad, add the chopped apples, halved grapes, and toasted pecans to the kale mixture. Then, give everything a good toss.
And that's all there is to it. Your easy Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad is ready to eat!
Serve this easy salad as a tasty side dish, or add a little bread and serve it as a light main course. With it's unique sweet - savory flavors this is one salad that will have everyone coming back for seconds ... even my Brussels sprout hating husband loves it!
Storing the Salad
Because of the tender grapes, and the fact that apples are prone to browning once cut, this salad is best consumed within a day or two of making it. If you have any leftovers store them in an airtight container in your refrigerator.
Looking for more unique kale salads? Then, you'll want to try these recipes next:
- Massaged Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing ... my favorite basic recipe that's packed with tons of tips!
- Farro Kale Salad with Feta
- Superfood Salad with Citrus Dressing
- Mexican Kale Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette
- Kale Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Winter Kale Salad with Freekeh and Roasted Vegetables
- Kale Pasta Salad with Creamy Lemon Basil Dressing
- Kale Caesar Salad
Love Brussels sprouts? Make sure to check out my easy Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette, too!
Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
- ½ cup pecan halves
- ¼ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch kale, sliced (discard stems)
- 1 cup red grapes, halved
- 1 large apple, cored and chopped
- Place pecans in a small frying pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. (Watch closely so they don't burn.)
- Transfer pecans to cutting board, then chop in half. Set aside.
- Combine olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Place brussels sprouts in a large bowl, gently separating the leaves as you do so.
- Add kale to brussels sprouts, then pour vinaigrette over top. Using your hands, massage vinaigrette into kale mixture until veggies are softened and reduced in size (about 2 minutes).
- Mix grapes, apples, and pecans into salad. Toss until well mixed.
- Serve salad immediately. Enjoy!