November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving: Brussels Sprout Salad

Today and tomorrow, I'll be sharing a handful of easy recipes for your thanksgiving table. Enjoy!

Have I told you this story?  My parents hate most of those vegetables that parents notoriously make their children eat. Peas. Cooked broccoli. Green Beans.  (I know!  What's wrong with them?!)  But one vegetable that they actually really really love is Brussels Sprouts.  And yet, I did not have my first Brussels Sprout till I was 26, and R and I went to DC Coast for Restaurant Week, and gorged ourselves on fishes.  These sprouts were broiled, and had bacon, so clearly they were amazing. But my favorite way to make Brussels Sprouts is raw, in a salad.

If you can get tender, local sprouts in season, there is no reason to risk the bitterness sometimes induced by cooking.  Shave them up into a salad. Since they are a rough and hearty green, they the higher acidity of the dressing tenderizes them a little bit. Make the dressing a couple days before, and prep all the other ingredients, keeping them in individual bags. Assemble up to 1/2 hour before the meal. It travels well, too, everything in their neat little bag.


This is the version I make, but oh my gosh there are a ton of recipes online for a million different variations. To name a few: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4

For the dressing:
8 tbl extra virgin olive oil (preferably a peppery olive oil)
2 tbl lemon juice
2 tbl really good quality apple cider vinegar
3 minced shallots
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 1/2 lbs fresh fresh fresh Brussels Sprouts
1 apple, peeled and cored 
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

1/4 lb hard, nutty aged Gouda (aged at least 16 months), or another nutty, hard cheese like Pecorino, Dry Jack, or Parmesan. Also good, a dry, crumbly goat or blue.

First make the dressing: pour all ingredients into a jar and shake vigorously. Store up to 3 days in the refrigerator.  Shake well before pouring onto the salad.

Remove the rough outer leaves from the sprouts and let them soak in a bowl of water to remove the sand.  Dry on a thick pile of kitchen towels, pressing gently to release water.  When drained and dry, slice the sprouts. All the recipes say you need really good knife skills to do this, otherwise use a mandoline.  You do not need really good knife skills.  It is as easy as pie.  But you do need a good sharp knife.

Julienne the apple, and squirt a little lemon juice on it.  Roughly chop the pistachios, and set aside. (I always buy shelled pistachios for these sorts of recipes. There would be no pistachios in this salad if I had to shell them.  I'd simply eat them all while shelling.)  Slice off the rind from the Gouda, and shave into long, thin, almost translucent pieces.

Layer all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, reserving a few of the cheese slices, and toss well with the dressing. No need to be gentle with this salad: you want the dressing to permeate and tenderize the sprouts a bit. Top with the remaining Gouda, and serve within the hour.

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