This healthy and easy shaved brussels sprout kale salad with cranberry vinaigrette is packed with protein from quinoa and pine nuts, sweetness from cranberries and tang from tart apple. Consider serving as a healthier Thanksgiving side dish, or a plant-based weeknight dinner!
This time of year, we're always looking for healthy shortcuts in the kitchen. With all of the entertaining happening around Thanksgiving and Christmas, we're always craving dishes like this shaved brussels sprout salad.
It's quick and easy to make--just 20 minutes start to finish. But it's also stunning to look at, with gorgeous emerald green sprouts topped with ruby pomegranate seeds and dried cranberries. Plus, it's nutrient packed!
But it seems like the colder it gets outside (read: less inviting to exercise outdoors), the heavier the food gets around the table. And after a few chilly weeks fueled by creamy sweet potato risotto and vegan mashed potatoes, we're ready to take a quick break from root veggies and tubers.
Really, this nutrient dense shaved brussels sprout kale salad with cranberry vinaigrette is exactly what we're looking for.
- It's a vegetable-packed salad that doesn't taste like it's trying to hard to be healthy.
- Kale and brussels sprouts are packed with the fiber, antioxidants and vitamins we need to fight any seasonal illnesses that always seem to be on the horizon.
- The salad bowl is always stunning on the table.
- It's naturally sweetened, plus vegan and gluten free, so everyone can enjoy.
- It's quick and easy to make and lasts well in the fridge. Aka: it's perfect for healthy vegan meal prep all winter long.
We really went all-in on seasonal produce for this plant-based salad. From the obvious: brussels sprouts, to crunchy apple slices and tart dried cranberries.
We also brought color and crunch with pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts. Then we rounded out this salad into a filling meal with cooked rainbow quinoa.
How to make shaved Brussels sprouts
The veggies in this healthy winter salad are 100% fresh and raw. Brussels sprouts are one of those fun vegetables that go both ways. They're delicious roasted up to crispy perfection. But shave them thinly enough and they make a fantastic raw salad too.
The easiest and fastest way to make shaved brussels sprouts for this salad is in your food processor.
- First, cut your sprouts in half.
- Then toss them into the bowl of a food processor. A blender won't be great for this job because the blades are a bit too small.
- Give everything a few pulses until the sprouts are paper thin, as shown in this picture:
We complement the shaved brussels with thinly sliced kale leaves for this winter salad. You destem the kale and toss the leaves in the food processor too to break them. Or, you can simply slice them thinly by hand.
How to make brussels sprouts taste good
I know, I know. Brussels sprouts aren't exactly a universally-adored vegetable.
Sure, steamed, unseasoned brussels sprouts taste horrible. We can all agree on that. But it doesn't have to be that way!
The key to making raw brussels sprouts taste good in this salad is letting it marinate in the dressing. We suggest making the salad about 30-45 minutes before you serve it so it has time to soak up all of the vinaigrette flavors.
Unlike other leafy greens, cruciferous brussels sprouts won't break down in the dressing. They'll actually soften the perfect amount. Honestly, you could even make the base of this salad the night before Thanksgiving/Christmas. Just wait to add the apple, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds until just before serving.
Add protein with quinoa
We wanted this healthy raw winter salad to fortify us. There's nothing sadder than filling up on tons of salad, only to feel hungry an hour later. That's why we packed this plant-based brussels sprout salad with protein.
Rainbow quinoa is a delightful and filling addition to the raw crunchy kale and sprouts. Just one cup of cooked quinoa mixes in well and absorbs so much flavor from the cranberry vinaigrette.
Quinoa is one of our favorite sources of plant protein. We especially love adding it to salads and soups, like our quinoa vegetable stew.
This recipe calls for rainbow quinoa. We love it for the color and nutty flavor.
Of course, if you can't find rainbow quinoa, white or brown quinoa will also work for this recipe. Or, if you don't have any quinoa on hand, why not swap in another grain like wild rice or farro (if you're not gluten free!)?
To bring more zest, sweetness and crunch to this shaved brussels sprout salad, we had a lot of fun with the mix-ins.
- Crunchy tart green apple is sweet and sour. If you're making this salad ahead of time, be sure to cut and add the apple just before serving to avoid browning.
- Toasted pine nuts add another hit of protein, healthy fats and natural creaminess. You can toast them on the stove in a flat skillet over low heat, or in a low oven (no higher than 300°F). Be sure to watch them carefully, as pine nuts can burn easily.
- Unsweetened dried cranberries complement our zesty cranberry vinaigrette.
- Fresh pomegranate seeds add pops of flavor and color. I strongly recommend buying a whole fresh pomegranate rather than the seeds in a plastic cup. Those pre-packaged seeds tend to taste like plastic to me. How do you remove pomegranate seeds, you ask? There are plenty of ways to get the arils out, but this is the method I like to use. It's the least messy!
- Savory parmesan for creaminess. If you're dairy free or vegan, we like Follow Your Heart shredded vegan parmesan. Of course, if dairy isn't an issue for you, real parm will work for this recipe.
We round out all of the texture in this shaved brussels sprout kale salad out with zesty homemade cranberry vinaigrette.
We flavored our salad dressing with unsweetened cranberry juice. The fruity flavor makes this salad just taste like fall. Cranberry is such an underused flavor most of the year.
It seems like we always have to wait until the leaves fall to make the most of this delicious fruit. We say, stretch it past cranberry sauce! You can keep making this flavor packed vinaigrette all year long.
Subs and Swaps
You can mix and match this flavor packed winter salad to your liking. Here are some common ingredient swaps you might want to try.
- If you're not a fan of dried cranberries, swap them out for another dried fruit. Golden raisins, chopped dried figs or dates sound lovely.
- To change up the salad dressing flavor, swap the cranberry juice for freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice.
- No pine nuts on hand? Toss some toasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts on top of your brussels sprout kale salad.
- Kale isn't for you? Swap the greens for another hearty leaf, like radicchio.
- Don't want to spring for maple syrup? Honey or agave would both make a wonderful sweetener for the cranberry vinaigrette.
This quick and easy shaved Brussels sprout kale salad with cranberry vinaigrette is protein packed with quinoa and pine nuts, sweetened with cranberries and tangy thanks to tart apple.
- 4-5 cups Brussels sprouts, shredded in a food processor (see blog post for details)
- 2 cups lacinato kale, sliced into thin strips and chopped
- ¼ cup grated parmesan (we use a vegan version, but regular works too)
- 1 cup cooked rainbow quinoa
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
- ¼ -⅓ cup no sugar added dried cranberries
- ¾ cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 green apple, diced*
- 2 tbsp shallots, diced
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup no sugar added cranberry juice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1½ tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Make the cranberry vinaigrette by whisking together all of the ingredients.
- Toss the Brussels sprouts, kale and quinoa in the vinaigrette and let sit for at least 10 minutes, preferably 30-45 minutes. Add parmesan, pine nuts, cranberries, pomegranate seeds and apple and toss with kale/brussels sprouts mixture. Taste and season with additional salt & pepper if needed.
This salad actually tastes better the longer it marinates in the dressing. We suggest prepping at least 30 minutes before eating, but if you don't have time that's okay - it just won't be as flavorful.
*Add the apple right before serving to avoid browning.
- Category: Salad
- Method: No cook
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: shaved brussels sprout salad