I had a friend in college who loved Brussels sprouts. She was always talking about how wonderful they were, and if anyone would disagree she'd ask them "How can you hate them? They're like little cabbages!" I don't know if anyone broke the news to her that a lot of people hate cabbage, too, but I still think of Brussels sprouts as little cabbages every time I eat them. I also learned from her that often the reason people dislike the "little cabbages" is that they've always had some overcooked ones. Cook Brussels sprouts too long and they do get gross - mushy and smelly and a weird green/brown color. But if you cook them briefly, they really are wonderful.
I never once thought to not cook them at all, though, until I was reading an interview with Giada di Laurentiis. The Food Network star is always associated with great food, (also: cleavage. Seriously, do a google image search of her some time.) and when she mentioned one of her favorite salads was a Brussels sprout salad at an LA restaurant I was interested. Especially when I saw the recipe for said salad on the next page. I read through the ingredients and knew I'd have to make it. Soon.
It turns out, of course, that Giada is right about this dish. The salad is wonderful. It's hearty and filling, with a great mix of flavors from the dried fruit, almonds and cheese. Served raw, the Brussels sprouts have a great crunchiness and a mild flavor that really isn't overpowering. The only downside to the salad is actually cutting them up for it. It takes a little while to peel apart all the little Brussels sprout leaves. Luckily, it makes a good sized salad that lasts very well without dressing on it. The dressing itself is very minimal - just enough to enhance the flavors of the salad.
In all, it's one of my new favorite salads. I can't wait for summer farmer's markets to have fresh Brussels sprouts on sale, because I've got a feeling this is going to be a favorite summer meal.
Don't worry, I'll cook my veggie-hating husband a hot dog.
Brussels Sprout Salad
For the dressing:
1/4 cup plus 2 T vegetable oil
2T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 T honey
1 T apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp whole-grain mustard
1/2 small clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salad
1 pound Brussels sprouts, leaves only, (7 cups leaves)
2 T dried blueberries
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup smoked almonds
1 ounce shaved manchego cheese (or Jarlsberg)
Bagel chips, for serving (optional)
1. Make the dressing: Whisk the vegetable oil and olive oil in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the honey, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper.
2. Slowly whisk the oil mixture and vinegar mixture until combined. Add additional salt to taste. (Don't skip this step because the dressing isn't great without enough salt.) Refrigerate at least 1 hour; store in an airtight container up to 1 week.
3. Make the salad: Toss the Brussels sprout leaves, dried blueberries and cranberries, almonds in a large bowl. Add dressing to taste and toss. Pile the salad onto a plate. Top with the cheese and season with pepper. Serve with bagel chips, if desired.
Recipe Source: La Grande Orange, feature in The Food Network Magazine