This colorful radicchio Brussels sprout salad with cranberries and pistachios will add cheer to your holiday table—along with flavor, crunch, and nutrition!
When the holiday season draws near, it’s fun to make big, ambitious dishes for gatherings and celebrations.
It’s also lovely to whip up a bunch of easy, low-stress vegetable sides.
A lot of people claim that Thanksgiving is all about the sides. I think there’s truth to that. I’d take it a step further and say that a lot of holiday meals are side-dish-centric. It’s not easy to come up with a single entree or centerpiece that will satisfy a whole group of eaters. After all, people have very different tastes and preferences, not to mention eating styles.
This radicchio Brussels sprout salad is a perfect example of a fast, easy side salad that packs a lot of nutrition, flavor, and texture. Plus, it’s really pretty to look at, colorful and bright, which makes it a very nice thing to serve during the winter holidays.
For so many years, I only ever roasted my Brussels sprouts.
There was nothing wrong with this, exactly. Roasted Brussels sprouts are one of the best things about fall, if you ask me. Roasting brings out their sweetness and crispiness. As making miso butter Brussels sprouts taught me, it’s also an opportunity to experiment with different glazes and marinades.
However, Brussels sprouts are a versatile little crucifer. And they lend themselves to far more preparation methods than one. Lately, I’m enjoying them steamed—it really highlights their natural sweetness, and it’s a quick and easy method when I’m in a rush.
Most of all, I’ve fallen in love with raw, shaved Brussels sprouts. They give such a spicy, crunchy bite to autumn salads! They pair wonderfully with kale, with tender roasted butternut squash, or they can constitute a good little salad all on their own.
Plump, halved Brussels are a beautiful thing, but the sprouts are so much more versatile than that.
So how do you shave Brussels sprouts thinly enough to work in salads like this one?
I usually shave Brussels sprouts by running them through my food processor. The slicing blade makes it easy and fast. If you have a mandoline slicer, that will also allow you to shave your sprouts paper thin.
But if you don’t have a special gadget for this job, not to worry. You can shave Brussels sprouts the old fashioned way, with a sharp chef’s knife. Here’s a nice tutorial on the process.
What I love about this salad is its simplicity. It has texture and color and crunch, but you won’t need too many ingredients to make it. Here’s what you will need:
Naturally! The salad calls for a pound of Brussels sprouts. Wash them and trim them before you shave them.
I know that I have a lot to say about Brussels sprouts, but radicchio is the other star of the show in this salad. Oh, how I love radicchio: the color, the bitterness, the beautiful firm leaves. It’s one of my favorite winter ingredients.
You’ll need one small head of radicchio for the recipe. Be sure to shred it finely, so that the radicchio and Brussels sprouts have an even texture and size.
Between Brussels sprouts and radicchio, there’s a lot of natural bitterness in this salad. As a result, a sweet ingredient is a nice complement.
Dried cranberries give the salad sweetness, some texture contrast, and a nice pop of color to match the radicchio. If you don’t have dried cranberries, I like golden raisins as a substitute.
I think that cranberries and pistachios make a great combination, especially in festive holiday dishes. A third cup of pistachios gives the salad some nutty flavor and crunch.
You can choose to roughly chop the pistachios or leave them whole for the recipe—it’s all about which texture you’d prefer.
The salad features a simple vinaigrette, one that I use on a lot of fall and winter salads. It’s olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a touch of maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Simple and tasty, with slight sweet notes that work well for the bitter brassicas.
This is a fun side salad to serve with your favorite plant protein. For example, it works nicely in a bowl with with my balsamic tofu and a whole grain, like farro.
Here are a few other winter recipes that are good to serve alongside the radicchio Brussels sprout salad:
The radicchio Brussels sprout salad will keep nicely in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. One of the nice things about the salad is that the vegetables in it retain their crispiness over time.
Naturally, you can modify the salad as you like. Almond slivers and toasted, chopped walnuts would be great in place of pistachios. So would pecan pieces.
If you don’t have Brussels sprouts, you can try making the salad with shredded dinosaur kale: different texture, but similar flavor profile. The radicchio can be replaced with shredded purple cabbage
So many options to explore. And here’s the recipe for you to start with.
Perhaps this tasty little salad will be a part of your holiday celebrations sometime. But no need to use the holiday as an excuse. Make it today, tomorrow, or through any of the winter months.
I hope you’ll enjoy it!