Brussels Sprouts and Smoked Sausage Salad Credit: Sandy Oliver

Thanks to the robust flavor of Brussels sprouts and the satisfying smokiness of a sausage such as kielbasa, this salad makes a fine main dish salad. Mark Lewis, the physical therapist who tends to us Islesboro folk, and his wife, Lauren, are pretty die-hard foodies. Nothing like having him work on my bum knee while telling me about what the Lewis family is making for dinner these days.

Of course, I tried it.

Lauren found the recipe on a kielbasa maker’s website, and I looked it up there, but immediately gave up following it. I was good through the directions for slicing the sprouts and sauteing the sausage. I stalled out on the dressing instructions. I mean, who in their right mind is going to measure out one lousy teaspoon of honey for a salad dressing? Most of the honey would stick to the measuring spoon and you would have a terrible time scraping it out. What I saw was that it essentially was a vinaigrette with cider vinegar, olive oil, a little mustard, honey and chopped shallot. I have a few pet vinaigrette recipes, and I used one of them, as you could, too, or even a good quality bottled oil and vinegar, slightly sweetening the dressing with a small dribble of honey.

The recipe also called for sliced red onion, a handful of toasted walnuts and some dried cranberries. It was a great combination. I shaved the Brussels sprouts — very carefully — on my mandolin. I started out with about ¾ pound of them, and I used half a kielbasa. That made one supper for two and enough left over, which I heated up the next day for lunch. Heating softened the sprouts a little and warmed the sausage through.

By now you know I am a believer in tinkering with recipes to suit your pantry and/or your taste, so in this dish. If you want more vegetables than meat, well, use more Brussels sprouts and less smoked sausage. Or vice versa for a meatier dish. The onion, cranberries and walnuts are so good it would be a shame to leave them out, but you could substitute raisins for cranberries and a mild white onion for the red.

There was a lot about this salad that reminded me of that broccoli salad that calls for bacon and a sweet and sour dressing made with honey, brown sugar, vinegar and mayonnaise, which means, I think, that we could borrow that dressing recipe, provided below, as one alternative for the Brussels sprouts and smoked sausage. Mix up the dressing separately from the salad and use as much or little as you need, and if any is left, use the rest on another salad on a different day.

How many servings you get depends on how you serve it. If it is the main dish for four people, use 1 ½ pounds of Brussels sprouts and one whole smoked sausage. If it is a side dish, the sprouts will serve six to eight, depending on who is eating. Like eight older ladies versus four teenagers. You’ll figure it out.

Brussels Sprouts and Smoked Sausage Salad

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts

1 whole smoked sausage, approximately 14 ounces

1 medium red onion

½ cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted

½ cup dried cranberries

Vinaigrette (two recipe options follow)

1. Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts, or shred on a mandolin into a good sized bowl.

2. Slice the sausage crosswise into disks about ½ inch thick and brown them in a frying pan, and add them to the sliced sprouts.

3. Thinly slice the red onion and add to the pan.

4. Add the walnuts and cranberries, and toss the salad together.

5. Add the dressing of your choice and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Vinaigrette with Honey

Yields about 1 cup

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

½ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put all ingredients into a bowl or jar with tight lid.

2. Whisk together or shake jar until dressing is entirely mixed.

3. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper to taste, and add more honey, if desired.

Sweet and Sour Dressing

Yields about ¾ cup

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup honey

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons vinegar, cider, rice or red wine

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients and whisk well. Store in an airtight container.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...