Warm Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad with Pancetta and Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette

Warm Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad with Pancetta and Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
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About This Recipe

In the heart of Napa, where the mornings start with mist gently rolling over the wine vineyards, I've been inspired by the simple beauty of nature to create authentic recipes that speak to the soul. The golden hues of autumn in wine country, with leaves turning shades of amber and ruby, remind me of the first time I whipped up the Warm Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad with Pancetta and Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette. With each bite, you taste the vibrant tapestry of Napa's landscape and the rich history of California wine country.

One of the joys of being a valley chef is the abundance of fresh ingredients at my doorstep. For this dish, sourcing locally is paramount. The farmers' markets here are brimming with fresh Brussels sprouts, their earthy aroma melding perfectly with the sweet and tangy local apples. And let's not forget the pancetta - the crispiness it lends to this dish is pure perfection, like a summer sunset over the Mayacamas Mountains.

Now, every dish deserves its perfect wine companion. For this salad, I recommend a well-balanced Chardonnay from Far Niente Winery. With its buttery texture and apple undertones, it's like taking a stroll through Napa's lush orchards. Alternatively, a delicate Pinot Noir from Williams Selyem in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma is an exquisite choice. Its vibrant acidity and earthy notes will dance harmoniously with the flavors of the salad, creating a symphony in your mouth.

If you're pondering side dishes, consider a rustic loaf of bread from the Model Bakery in St. Helena. Their artisanal creations are the talk of the town, ideal for soaking up any leftover vinaigrette. As for dessert, the wine-soaked poached pears from Calistoga's hidden gem, the Tank Garage Winery, is a delightful endnote. It's not just about wine there; it's a trip back in time with their vintage atmosphere.

When I think of chef meals at home, I always lean towards farm to table recipes. They encapsulate the essence of Napa - fresh, organic, and brimming with love and history. And if you're looking for more easy healthy dinners or any recipes that give you a genuine taste of wine country, don't be shy to ask the locals. We pride ourselves on being a close-knit community, always eager to share the hidden treasures of our region.

Napa's wine vineyard culture isn't just about the finest Cabernets or the most exquisite Merlots. It's about the stories, the heritage, the sun-kissed mornings, and the passion that goes into every bottle, every dish, and every smile shared. Next time you're here, take a detour from the popular spots and explore a lesser-known winery, like the enchanting Frog's Leap in Rutherford. Their organic farming methods and quaint, rustic charm make for an unforgettable experience.

To all my fellow food and wine lovers, remember: every dish has a story, every wine a memory. In Napa, we're blessed with the best of both. Whether it's a quick dinner with family or a summer dinner idea for guests, the Warm Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad will whisk you away to a place where every meal is a journey, and every sip, a new adventure. Cheers!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are not just a side dish for the holiday season; these miniature cabbages are packed with nutrients and flavor. Originating from Brussels, Belgium, these green gems offer a dense source of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Their slightly bitter taste pairs perfectly with the sweetness of apples and the salty touch of pancetta in this dish. Additionally, Brussels sprouts contain compounds that are believed to offer antioxidant properties. So, not only are they delicious, but they're also a nutritional powerhouse.

How to Caramelize Brussels Sprouts to Perfection

Caramelizing Brussels sprouts is a culinary technique that can enhance their natural flavors, making them irresistibly delicious. Here's a simple guide to achieve that golden perfection:

  1. Preparation: Trim off the base and any yellow or damaged outer leaves. Slice them in half lengthwise.
  2. Pan Heat: Use a skillet or pan that retains heat well. Cast iron skillets are often preferred for this purpose. Heat the skillet over medium heat.
  3. Oil/Fat: For this recipe, the rendered pancetta fat serves as the perfect medium for caramelizing. If you're doing this without pancetta, olive oil or butter can be a good alternative.
  4. Placement: Place Brussels sprouts cut side down in the skillet. This allows for maximum contact with the hot surface, leading to an even caramelization.
  5. Patience: Resist the urge to stir too often. Let them sit and develop a golden-brown crust for about 5 minutes before checking.
  6. Finishing: Once they've achieved the desired caramelized color, stir and proceed with your recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I substitute pancetta with another ingredient? Absolutely! Bacon or prosciutto can be good substitutes, offering a similar salty and fatty contrast to the dish. Vegetarians can use tempeh bacon or simply skip this ingredient altogether.
  2. How do I store leftover salad? Store any leftover Brussels sprouts and apple salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. It's best consumed warm, so consider reheating it gently on the stove before serving.
  3. I have a nut allergy. What can I replace pecans with? Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds can offer a crunchy alternative without the nut content.
  4. Can I use another type of apple if I don’t have Fuji or Honeycrisp? Certainly! Look for apples that retain their structure when cooked, like Gala or Pink Lady.
  5. I don't have apple cider vinegar. What can I use instead? White wine vinegar or even regular white vinegar can be used in a pinch. However, apple cider vinegar offers a fruity depth that complements the salad well.

Tips for Success

  1. Slice Apples Just Before Cooking: To prevent browning, slice your apples just before they need to be added to the skillet. If you do slice them ahead of time, tossing them in a bit of lemon juice can prevent oxidation.
  2. Consistent Heat: Keep your heat at a consistent medium level when caramelizing Brussels sprouts. Too high, and they can burn. Too low, and they might cook without achieving that desired golden crust.
  3. Dress to Impress: If you're looking to take this dish to the next level, consider garnishing with crumbled goat cheese or feta. The creamy tang of the cheese can enhance the dish's flavors further.

Remember, the beauty of cooking is in the journey, not just the final dish. Whether you're a seasoned chef or just exploring the kitchen, this Warm Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad is sure to leave an impression.

Recipe Overview

Warm Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad with Pancetta and Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 medium apples (like Fuji or Honeycrisp), cored and sliced thinly
  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup roasted pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the pancetta until crispy. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet with the rendered pancetta fat, add the Brussels sprouts, cut side down, and cook until they begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the apple slices to the skillet, stir, and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes until the apples soften slightly but retain some crunch.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to create the vinaigrette.
  5. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the Brussels sprouts and apple mixture in the skillet. Stir gently to coat the ingredients evenly.
  6. Remove from heat and transfer the warm salad to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the crispy pancetta, roasted pecans, and dried cranberries or golden raisins.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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