brown rice + Brussels sprouts salad with bacon vinaigrette

4 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, diced

Bacon Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cups short-grain brown rice, rinsed
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 pint Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
1/4 cup dried cranberries

  1. In a large sauté pan, cook bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Carefully pour 2 tablespoons bacon grease into a bowl (keep remaining grease in pan) and add mustard and maple syrup, and season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Slowly stream in olive oil until combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired.
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water and brown rice to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is cooked and water is absorbed, 40-45 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove lid and place a clean kitchen towel over top of pot. Place lid over towel and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, fluff with a fork.
  4. Meanwhile, return sauté pan (with bacon grease) to medium heat. Add shallot and cook until just softened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add Brussels sprouts and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until bright green and just softened. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.
  5. In a large bowl, combine brown rice, bacon, and Brussels sprouts mixture. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat, top with dried cranberries and serve.

Serves 4-6.