RECIPE: Brussel Sprout, Apricot & Belgian Tripel Pesto Slaw

Having a beer with a salad can be way more interesting than watery green lettuce with a pilsner. When I got the chance to team up with TV Food Expert and nutritionist, Abbey Sharp, to create a beer and salad pairing, we upped the ante and chose a great, big, boozy beer, Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde, a sweet, fruity Belgian-style tripel, clocking in at 9% ABV. Now all we had to do was create a salad recipe to match.

Even intense greens like kale shrink at the sight of such beastly brew, so we decided to replace the leafy greens with another kind —— the bitter, earthy and equally intense, Brussel sprout. Then we added complementary touches like dried apricot and spicy fennel to resonate with the tripel’s spicy and fruity notes, and a hit of acidity with sliced apple.

Then Abbey’s true genius came to light — she made an almond beer pesto dressing, using nearly a full bottle of the tripel. Not only did it a floral bitterness note to the dressing, the beer made our slaw healthier! It cut the fat and calories of a traditional pesto by “stretching” the dressing without adding more oil.

Please try this at home, it’s so yummy. And experiment with different beer styles in your own salad dressings. Here’s Abbey’s rule of thumb for adding beer to salad dressing: “The traditional vinaigrette ratio is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil, but that results in a high calorie and high fat dressing. Try this ratio instead: 1 part vinegar, 1 part oil, 2 parts beer, and play around with citrus or honey to balance out the bitterness from the hops.”

Ready to slice and dice? Here’s Abbey’s full recipe, Brussels Sprout, Apricot & Beer Pesto Slaw. Just don’t forget to pair it with the beer.

Got a favourite salad you want me to match up with a beer? Leave a comment below and I’ll make a suggestion.