Ahhh, it’s OFFICIALLY Fall!! Let the season of apples, bonfires, boots, pumpkins, pies, scarves, and soups begin! 🙂 🙂 🙂 (Can you tell I’m just a teeny bit excited?)
Speaking of apples…my first Fall blog recipe features apples in one of my all-time favorite salads. I started making this salad awhile ago, but never actually wrote my recipe down until recently. I also adapted my original version that had pecans and dried cranberries into an AIP-friendly version that is nut-free and refined sugar-free.
My Apple Bacon Brussels Sprouts Salad is a delicious way to kick off the Fall season since the weather is still warm enough to do outdoor picnics and cookouts. This salad is full of shaved brussels sprouts, crispy bacon, sweet apples, carrots, and dried cherries – not to mention an Apple Cider and Bacon Vinaigrette. So, if you’re on the hunt for a new autumn salad or side dish, this is the recipe for you!
So, brussels sprouts have come a long way, in my opinion. They used to be associated with old-fashioned 1950s dinners, where they were boiled or steamed and had absolutely no flavor. They were the side dish that kids pushed away or tried to feed to their dog. (Along with lima beans!) Yuck.
Now, brussels sprouts are a trendy item on restaurant menus! I’ve had them roasted with herbs, sauteed with bacon, and fried as “chips.” (I even have a delicious recipe here on the blog for Sweet and Spicy Brussels Sprouts that you should try, if you haven’t already.) Brussels sprouts have become one of my favorite versatile veggie side dishes!And, did you know that you can even eat them raw?
Yep, it’s true! That’s exactly how I serve them in my Apple Bacon Brussels Sprouts Salad. They are shaved thin, similar to a cabbage slaw. Super mild, crunchy, and they don’t get soggy in salad dressing.
Because the brussels sprouts aren’t cooked, this salad is incredibly easy and quick to make!
You’ll want to start out by chopping and frying up some bacon in a skillet. (I ordered some delicious sugar-free, nitrate-free bacon online from US Wellness Meats.) Once it’s nice and crispy, remove it to a paper-towel lined plate, but save a couple tablespoons of the bacon fat. That will be used later on for your Apple Cider and Bacon Vinaigrette!
While the bacon is cooling off, you can peel, core, and slice some apples. If the thought of that seems tedious, why not make it a breeze by using a handy Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer?! I use mine all the time! It’s a no-brainer to use for apple pies, but comes in handy for recipes like this one! I also use it weekly when I make my Turkey Apple Breakfast Hash!
Another time-saver is finding bags of already shaved brussels sprouts! Trader Joe’s carries them. If you can’t find pre-shaved sprouts, then you can use a grater, slicer, or food processor and do it yourself.
In addition to the sprouts, I found unsweetened dried cherries at Trader Joe’s too. They make a perfect substitute for dried cranberries, if you’re doing AIP. While dried fruit is to be eaten sparingly, you only need about a cup for the entire salad. I chopped my dried cherries up into smaller pieces for this recipe. (You can always use dried cranberries if you can’t find the cherries and aren’t on an AIP diet!)
Get out a large bowl and toss in all of the salad ingredients, including the bacon. I love how colorful the salad is!Last, but not least, the Apple Cider and Bacon Vinaigrette! Using your reserved bacon fat, whisk in the apple cider, cider vinegar, herbs, and sea salt in a glass measuring cup or jar. One thing to note: Warm the apple cider slightly if it’s been in the fridge. If you pour in cold apple cider with the bacon grease, it will cause the fat to solidify and be very difficult to incorporate. Warm or room temp cider is key!
Now, if you don’t plan to eat this salad within a day or two, just keep the salad and dressing separate. Otherwise, pour the dressing on the Apple Bacon Brussels Sprouts Salad and give it a toss to let the flavors mingle.
The result is a crunchy, smoky, sweet salad, full of different textures and flavors. To me, it tastes like early Fall! The tangy, sweet Apple Cider and Bacon Vinaigrette really compliments the salad so well! This salad is always a hit when I take it to gatherings, and I always hope there will be leftovers to eat for lunch the next day! 😉
Now that you have a delicious Apple Bacon Brussels Sprouts Salad made, what activities are you most excited for this Fall season?
Personally, I always feel like the Fall goes WAY too fast for the many things I want to cram in! From farm festivals and pumpkin-carving to hayrides and pie-baking. Not to mention bonfires and cookouts in this beautiful, non-humid, early autumn weather!
No matter what fun festivities you have planned, one thing is for sure: This Apple Bacon Brussels Sprouts Salad is the dish you’ll want to make, share, and enjoy this Fall season!
Happy First Day of Fall, friends! Make it a great one!
- 1 lb. sugar-free bacon
- 2-10 ounce bags shaved brussels sprouts (about 6 cups)
- 2 apples
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup dried unsweetened cherries, chopped
- ¾ cup apple cider, warm or room temp
- ⅛ cup reserved bacon fat
- ⅛ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- sea salt to taste
- Chop bacon into small pieces. In a large skillet over medium/high heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the bacon grease for the dressing.
- Peel, core, slice, and chop your apples. Sprinkle them with lemon juice to prevent browning.
- In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients, including bacon.
- Whisk together salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
- Pour dressing over salad and toss to incorporate. Best if eaten within 1-2 days.
~You can substitute dried cranberries for the unsweetened dried cherries if you aren't on a sugar-free diet.
~If the bacon grease solidifies in your dressing, just warm it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.
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