Brussels Sprouts and Arugula Salad: Healthy for the Holidays!
When you think of salads, you probably envision dining outdoors in warm weather. Salads are most often associated with the spring and summer months when you can use ingredients right from your own garden.
But even on the darkest and coldest days of winter, you can still make a delicious greens-based dish. My Brussels Sprouts with Arugula salad is living proof! Adding a wintertime salad to your repertoire of holiday foods is a great way to break up the monotony of a traditional holiday table. Serving a colorful salad during the late fall season and winter makes a table look presentable. It also gives loved ones a healthier option than calorie-laden cookies, pies, and pudding, which can easily derail a diet plan.
As a dish that’s simple to prepare, it also avoids the tedium of mealtime preparation during the holidays. As a busy cook, I know that cutting down on prep time means more time to enjoy the company of guests and a warm fire.
Think Green…Even in Winter
Making a winter salad brings out the best of the fall harvest season. It also shows that fall colors don’t have to disappear with the leaves. Neither do summer’s healthy green colors. There are certainly many beautiful autumn and winter colors in my Brussels Sprouts with Arugula salad. You’ll also find plenty of green, which comes primarily in the form of arugula and Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts, I must say, are the star of this dish. They stand out for their beautiful color and high nutrition content. They’re also low in calories, which is a plus for anyone watching their waistline! When you take a first bite of my salad, you’ll be glad that Brussels sprouts made their way to the US from Belgium. Each serving of Brussels sprouts (about one cup) has less than 40 calories. It also has high levels of Vitamin K and Vitamin C. Vitamin K supports proper circulation, while Vitamin C is essential for immune health. A serving of Brussels sprouts also provides Vitamin A and iron. While blueberries might steal the spotlight for antioxidants, Brussels sprouts are actually loaded with antioxidants and inflammation-reducing properties, too. With all these benefits they provide, you can see why mom told you to eat your Brussels sprouts when you were a kid. Now you can tell your children the same thing!
Another star green in my salad is arugula. Arugula has a distinctive taste with a peppery kick. If you know someone who doesn’t eat salads because they’re “boring,” chances are good you can change their minds by presenting a dish made with arugula, which takes the tedium out of eating greens. A fun fact about arugula is that it’s actually a cruciferous vegetable. This puts it in the same family as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and superstar kale. Arugula’s health benefits range from improved athletic performance to fighting cancer. This vegetable also improves complexion, which is great news for those who suffer from dull, dry wintertime skin.
Now that you know all the health benefits arugula provides, you’re probably more inclined to try out an arugula-based salad. While arugula has a delicious and distinctive taste on its own, it pairs quite nicely with Dijon mustard, which is another ingredient in my salad. Dijon also has a bit of spice that adds some pizzazz to the salad.
A Splash of Color
My salad intentionally contains some splashes of color to keep life interesting. This includes purple onion and fig spread. Both flavors are nicely complemented by balsamic vinegar, which adds the perfect finishing touch to the meal.
The fig fruit is quite versatile. It’s equally delicious when consumed dried, fresh, or turned into other forms such as a spread. Fig belongs to the mulberry family, and the fruit itself comes from a beautiful flowering plant. Historically, figs are considered a delicacy of the fruit world. They are hearty, delicious, and can be somewhat expensive. Figs are native to the Mediterranean, which means it makes frequent appearances in Mediterranean meals. If you have ever followed a Mediterranean diet, you may have already discovered that figs are popular for weight control and good health. In fact, fig spreads and purees are commonly used to replace fats in baked goods. Figs also help retain moisture in baked goods, which adds to their appeal and makes them stay fresh longer. If you have any fig spread left over after making this salad, I recommend using it as a spread for bread or muffins. You can even make a peanut butter and fig spread sandwich!
If you’ve ever dealt with adding onions to a dish in the past, you may have ended up in tears. But with the benefits they offer, purple onions show these feelings are fugacious. Instead of crying, you should smile instead! Purple onions are an excellent source of Vitamin C. They also contain phytochemicals and flavonoids, which can lower your chances of developing certain types of cancer and diseases such as Parkinson’s or cardiovascular disease. Purple onions can also help manage cholesterol and blood pressure. Each serving contains calcium and iron too, which translates to better bone health.
Savory and Sweet
Naturally, you probably associate wintertime with comfort foods that are salty and sweet. Not surprisingly, they appear in my salad, too.
Two delectable additions are glazed pecans and bacon. Pecans are native to Georgia. They’re a staple in Southern dishes, but you can use them in meals anywhere. Pecans on their own have a rich taste and buttery texture. Giving them a glazed finish turns them from a savory treat to a sweet delight. If you feel guilty about eating sugary wintertime foods like cookies and pie, you can munch blissfully on glazed pecans knowing that you won’t derail your diet plan. Like other nuts, pecans are chock-full of healthy properties. If you want to use them for more than the salad, sprinkle them on yogurt or ice cream. They make a nice addition to granola, too.
Everyone loves the smell of bacon cooking, especially when the weather is cold and dreary. The comforting smell of this ever-popular meat will make everyone automatically wonder what’s cooking. If you don’t have salad fans among your group, adding some sinfully delicious bacon to the meal is sure to win them over. However, if you’re trying to make a heart-healthy meal or if you’re vegetarian, simply omit the bacon. You can add more of the other ingredients like glazed pecans instead for a satisfying meal that’s also exceptionally healthy.
Yes, it’s Cheesy
Soft and malleable, mozzarella cheese is commonly used in bread-based dishes. When you order a pizza from the local pizza store, chances are good it’s coated in mozzarella cheese. But mozzarella is also a wonderful addition to a salad. Mozzarella has a firm texture when served cold. It absorbs other flavors readily, making it a good option if you want to add richness and substance to a dish without having competing flavors. Mozzarella pairs especially well with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Unless you live in a warm, tropical region, the growing season is fugacious. You’ll probably have to go to the grocery store to get parsley for your salad. Even so, this versatile herb adds a perfect finishing touch of flavor.
Ingredients For Salad:
- Baby Arugula (2 handfuls)
- Brussel Sprouts (One Bunch)
- Purple Onion (1 small)
- Bacon (1 Small Pack)
- Glazed Pecans and Glazed walnuts (1/2 Cup Each)
- Mozzarella Cheese (1 Cup Cubed)
Ingredients For Dressing:
- Fig Spread (3 Tablespoons)
- Honey Dijon (1 Tablespoon)
- Balsamic Vinegar (1/2 Cup)
- Olive Oil (1/2 Cup)
- Parsley (1/4 Cup)
- Salt and Pepper (Sprinkle/ To Taste)
- In a large bowl, add the arugula.
- Cut up the Brussel sprouts in halves. Put them in a sheet pan. Add salt, pepper and olive oil. Put them in the oven 425º for 20 minutes.
- When the Brussel sprouts have cooled, add them to the arugula bowl.
- Cut up a small purple onion in half moon very thin and add to the arugula bowl.
- Bake about 5 pieces of bacon in a sheet pan at 400º for 15 minutes.
- Cut up the bacon very small and add to the arugula bowl.
- Buy glazed pecans/walnuts and add to the arugula bowl.
- Cut up fresh mozzarella cheese into small half cubes then add to the arugula bowl.
- In a small bowl, add everything for the dressing and mix together then pour over the salad.
Once the salad is assembled, just sit back, relax, and enjoy with family and friends.