The first weekend in December, my mom, aunt, grandma, and myself always get together (okay, I was an add-on and have only been going for the past 5 or 6 years) and spend the day together – usually shopping. This year we did some shopping, but also attended a cooking class at Dierbergs. We did another cooking class a few years ago, but this one was even better. Our chef and teacher was Brandie Wininger and the theme was ‘A Modern Southern Christmas’. She took familiar, family recipes from growing up in the South and put a different twist on them. Needless to say, everything was delicious! Plus, I learned a few new tricks!

The menu included:  a Bourbon Cider Cocktail, Bacon Fig Tassies, Brussels Sprouts Salad, Cajun Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with a Mustard Bourbon Glaze, Corn Pudding with Leeks & Thyme, Roasted Root Vegetables, and Gingerbread Creme Brulee. Damn. We sure did not leave hungry. Were they all the healthiest recipes? Definitely not. But, it’s all about the experience and learning new things. One meal isn’t going to make or break you. And Friday was ‘Treat Yoself’ (Parks and Rec, anyone??).

Anyway, the recipe that I was most excited about making myself was the Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Apples, Cornbread Croutons, & Maple Cider Vinaigrette. I already had most of the ingredients at home; I had actually already sliced the Brussels sprouts in my food processor a week ago and was looking for a recipe to use them! Bingo.

I also adapted the original recipe slightly. I used sweet potato instead of butternut squash, swapped out honey for maple syrup, and used regular yellow mustard instead of grainy mustard in the dressing – because those were things I already had at my house/in my fridge. That’s the best part about finding new recipes – you can play with them, swap things out, add things, etc. and most likely, they’ll still turn out delicious. I also added some Canadian Bacon for protein to make it a more balanced meal.

brussels sprout salad

Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Apples, Cornbread Croutons, & Maple Cider Vinaigrette by Brandie Wininger
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • Cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil (divided)
  • 3/4 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple, unpeeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. grainy mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. On one prepared baking sheet, toss the butternut squash cubes with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast butternut squash for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway.
  3. On second prepared baking sheet, toss cornbread cubes with remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast cornbread for 10 minutes, or until slightly browned.
  4. Allow squash and cornbread to cool.
  5. Using a slicing attachment on a food processor, mandoline, or knife; slice Brussels sprouts separating leaves as you go and discarding cores. Place in a large serving bowl. Add diced apple, butternut squash, and cornbread croutons.
  6. For the dressing: In a small bowl, combine apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and mustard. Whisk in the 1/3 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Drizzle dressing over salad and gently toss to coat. Place salad on serving plates, add protein of choice, and sprinkle blue cheese crumbles over top, if desired.
  8. Enjoy!

In a ‘nutchelle’, I highly recommend taking a cooking class in order to broaden your horizons and develop skills in the kitchen! Learn to try new things and always remember to maintain balance.