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This is a Salad—Made of Pretzels

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Are you currently at the airport, or en route to it? No. The mall?

Tying the Knot with Homemade Pretzels

Tying the Knot with Homemade Pretzels by Erin McDowell

Kim Boyce's Soft Rye Pretzels

Kim Boyce's Soft Rye Pretzels by Kim Boyce


First: I am sorry. We’ve all been there, recently.


Second: Let’s make lemonade, but don’t ask where this positivity is coming from. Blame it on the eggnog in my coffee, or Will Ferrell in elf Spandex.

Next: Find the Auntie Anne’s or the Wetzel's Pretzels or whatever soft pretzel producer there may be—there is always one at the mall and the airport. Follow the scent.

Then: Buy some pretzels but do not eat them. No pain, no gain, people.


Once you get to safety—your house or your Granny’s, maybe your childhood bedroom—turn the now cold, slightly-hard pretzels into a salad. But this is not a January salad, it is a fully December salad: joyful and festive and awe-inspiring.

Pretzel Panzanella
Pretzel Panzanella

If smiling’s your favorite but you need to cheat on the holiday season just a little bit, here’s your fix. It’s salad—made of pretzels.

This is a good idea in real life, not just in a "make it worth situation" on a cooking show, because pretzels stay soft on the inside while crisping on the outside, take well to liquid (i.e. dressing), and speak up above other loud ingredients. Here, the shouters are hearty brassicas (brussels sprouts and broccoli), mustard, sauerkraut, and pickled red onions (adapted from fiveandspice's recipe). Dates add sweetness but not sugariness. Sausage wouldn't be an outsider here, either. Other hot dog toppings—except chili—too.

Did you just take a deep breath and smile? Good, I was hoping so! You know what my Christmas wish is? For someone to bring the ingredients for this salad in a big jar to the airport (3.4 ounces of dressing only!!), pick up some pretzels past security, shake it all together, and then eat it on the plane home—with some airplane peanuts thrown in.

I think this is how you survive the holiday season.

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Pretzel Panzanella

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Serves 4

For the pickled onions and mustard dressing:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:

  • 3 cups 1-inch chunks of big, soft pretzels
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Flaky maldon salt, for coating
  • 1 large head broccoli, floreted and stalk peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch coins
  • 1/2 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut, as devoid of liquid as possible
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Tags: salad, pretzel salad, panzanella, pretzel