We’ve been back home for less than a week and I am already craving being back in the ocean. Well, yes, let’s be honest – I started getting this feeling the second we had to leave the ocean before heading to the airport. We spent last week in Puerto Rico – a couple days in the heart of Old San Juan and a few days on the west coast of the island in Rincón. I will be putting together a travel guide to these areas, but since I’m a big procrastinator and who knows when those guides will come out, let me touch briefly on our trip.
With our delayed travel on the first day we were only able to spend 1 day wandering the streets of Old San Juan. These streets really are as beautiful and colorful as they appear in pictures! We wandered these streets early in the morning before the crowds and the heat. Our pale Minnesotan skin got burned during this first jaunt in the sun. No sunscreen could have protected our skin lol. Old San Juan is only ~7 square blocks, so we were easily able to cover the area in a day. While heading to a local popsicle shop after exploring the old military fort, we unexpectedly ran into one of the friends Alex made while they studied abroad in Spain 7 years ago!! Isn’t that amazing!? We had dinner with Q and she showed us around her area of town before we ended west the next morning.
Rincón was our favorite of the two locations. I would describe the area as a sleepy surfer town. This area is internationally known for its massive swells in the winter. Unfortunately, there were minimal waves while we were here, so there was no surfing for us. One of my favorite things that I loved about Rincón was their health food scene. Unlike Old San Juan, which was full of fried food, Rincón had fresh acai bowls, a plethora of seafood, pressed juices, and food trucks serving organic/locally sourced food. There is nothing I love more than eating an acai bowl on the beach, so this town was heavenly for me!
When we came back home to Minneapolis the weather (and thereby, the land) had completely changed. Less than two weeks before we left there was a blizzard that brought over a foot of snow, covering the ground for days. But when we landed, the grass was growing, there were budding leaves on the trees and the ivy, ground plants were starting to poke their heads out of the ground, and a couple tulips had quickly grown in our yard.
Channeling the light and cheery spring weather in combination with my health food kick in Rincón, I decided to make this plant-based appetizer/side dish! This roasted brussel sprout salad consists of roasted brussel sprouts (obvi, lol), apple slices, cranberries, and candied nuts. The salad is a perfect mixture between the earthy tones of the sprouts, the tangy bite from the apple, and some sweetness from the cranberries and candied nuts. The ingredients are tied together with the balsamic glaze on top. You can either make the balsamic glaze from scratch (included in the recipe) or you can purchase one of the numerous pre-made ones. Try out this salad as a side dish or appetizer at your spring and summer gatherings!
Roasted Brussel Sprout Salad with Balsamic Glaze
Bake time:Serves: 6
- 2 cups raw walnuts or pecans
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Coarse raw sugar
- 1 pound brussel sprouts
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 apple, diced
- 1/3 cup cranberries
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed
- Preheat oven to 325F. Generously coat a large baking sheet with nonstick spray.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the nuts, sugar, light corn syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and pepper. Spread the coated nuts onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring a few times throughout. While the candied nuts are in the oven, make the balsamic glaze.
- In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the glaze has been reduced by half. Allow to cool.
- Once the candied nuts are golden in color, remove from the oven and generously sprinkle with raw sugar. Toss to coat. Place a large piece of aluminum foil on the counter, and spread the candied nuts on it. Cool for 30 minutes, then break apart the large pieces.
- In the meantime, roast the brussel sprouts. Increase the oven temperature to 400F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, set aside.
- Prep the brussel sprouts by trimming the end and cutting into fourths. Place the brussel sprouts on the baking sheet. Drizzle with oil olive and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Transfer roasted brussel sprouts to a medium sized bowl and toss in the diced apple, cranberries, and candied nuts.
- Drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.