Shaved Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing

In need of some greens for your holiday table? This is your answer. It’s simple, fresh, and can be made a day or two ahead of time, making it the perfect complement to an indulgent, celebratory meal.

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In planning our Thanksgiving menu, there was some talk about Brussels sprouts. It started with a fruitless search for a recipe similar to some dish my parents had at a restaurant (they couldn’t tell me what was in it other than miso) and then some discussion about a few other recipes that came up on our search. But we didn’t settle on a recipe. A few days later my sister asked that I make the kale and Brussels sprout salad that I brought to Thanksgiving 4 years ago. Somehow she remembered it. I guess it was that good.

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I make some version of a shaved kale and Brussels sprout salad every winter, but couldn’t for the life of me remember where I got the recipe for the one she was referring to. I know there was kale, Brussels, pomegranates, and some nuts. I am pretty sure there was a tahini-based dressing. But after going down a major Google rabbit hole, I came up with nothing that looked to have the ingredients in the picture I found buried in my instagram feed from 2014. This one from Cookie +_ Kate looks similar, but is missing the pomegranates. There’s a good chance that I just used her recipe loosely. So I figured I’d just make something up for the holiday.

But after posting about pomegranates on Instagram last week, I received a few comments asking for the recipe for said kale salad. Since I had nothing concrete to share, I figured I should get testing! After all, they say never to serve something you’ve never made to guests…let alone on a major holiday!

kale and Brussels sprout salad with pomegranates and pecans

For anyone who is saying “salad on Thanksgiving?” here’s why you want this on your holiday table:

  1. It balances out all of the indulgent dishes, which I promise will be welcomed by all.

  2. It’s no ordinary salad - it’s packed with flavor and crunch.

  3. You can make it 1-2 days ahead of time, which is key for any host (just wait to dress it until it’s time to serve).

  4. It doesn’t require any coveted oven space.

  5. It makes great leftovers for lunch on Friday. Kale and Brussels hold up well to the dressing.

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This salad is simple and flexible, but there are a few important steps:

Remove the thick kale stems: The stems are very fibrous and, in my opinion, too much for a raw salad. You can save them to sauté or add to a soup if you’d like.

Massage the kale: This breaks down some of the fiber and bitter flavor. It also helps the kale absorb more of the dressing. Don’t try to skip the addition of the oil, and plan to get those hands a little dirty!

Shave the Brussels: This take 2 minutes in the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can slice them very thin with a mandolin or sharp knife. The key is to have small pieces that almost resemble a slaw-like consistency.

Add some crunch with nuts/seeds: I use toasted pecans here purely for the seasonal flavor, but I’ve made similar salads with slivered almonds and pumpkin seeds, so you could really use your favorite nut or seed.

Pomegranate arils: I know opening a pomegranate can be intimidating. Here’s a good tutorial to make your life easier. Don’t skip these, they are the star of the show!

kale pomegranate Brussels sprout salad.

Shaved Kale and Brussesls Sprout Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Makes: 8-10 servings

Prep time:

Salad Ingredients:
  • 1 large head of lacinato (dinosaur) kale
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts
  • Arils (seeds) of 1 medium pomegranate
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • Juice and zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 tsp honey (can use maple syrup if vegan)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (more if needed)
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated with a microplane
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Instructions:
  1. Prep the kale: remove the stems and chop the kale into thin strips. Place in a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil and salt. Massage with your hands until the olive oil is well mixed and the kale becomes about half the volume as when yous started.
  2. Shave the Brussels sprouts: using a food processor with the grater attachment, feed Brussesls sprouts through until they become a slaw like consistency. You can also do this with a sharp knive or mandolin.
  3. Make the dressing: whisk together all ingredients until creamy. If you prefer a thinner consistency, you can add more water 1 Tbsp at a time.
  4. Toast the pecans: place in a pan over medium heat on the stove. Toast until they become fragrant and slightly browned, 4-5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the nuts so they don't burn. Let cool and then roughly chop.
  5. Make the salad: Mix kale and Brussels sprouts. Top with pecans and pomegranate arils. Add shaved parm, if using. Toss with dressing and serve. If you are making this ahead of time, leave dressing on the side unitl ready to serve. Store leftovers in fridge for up to 3 days.
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