Merely 6 months ago I was opposed in principle to brussels sprouts. It’s one of those strongly flavored vegetables that no child will ever want to eat unless forcibly required. The smell is completely off-putting and they are literally mini cabbages. Seriously- who really wants to eat an entire cabbage, albeit miniaturized? And because I behave like a small child in most areas of my life… you can extrapolate the rest.
The forcible introduction of brussels sprouts for me occurred at one of our favorite bars/ restaurants here in San Diego called Tiger Tiger. I believe I have already extolled the virtues of this restaurant on my blog in posts gone by, but in case you need a refresher, Tiger Tiger taught my taste-buds how to appreciate the best curry fries known to man. And now they can be credited with popping my brussels sprout cherry.
Thus, my first experiences with brussels sprouts occurred at Tiger Tiger in the form of a whiskey-glazed, pancetta topped, maple-syrupy side dish. A friend forced that first morsel in my mouth. And the rest is history…
But this recipe is not that recipe.
Even though I have not recreated Tiger Tiger’s historic dish, it has been instrumental to my exploring this vegetable as a new vehicle for flavor.. I’ve experiment with roasting, sautee-ing, eating them raw. All in all, I’ve been seeking out brussels sprouts for all meals and all side dishes.
And I have officially decided that one of the best utilizations of brussels sprouts is in salad form. (Yes, I know.. who’s ever heard of using brussels sprouts in a salad?) But people- you need to give it a try.
It totally works. The idea is that you need to shred the brussels sprouts very thinly- either by hand, food processor, or a mandolin. This gives them a lovely texture somewhat similar to shredded cabbage, but lighter and more tender. The texture is especially good if you blanch the sprouts briefly; it just barely softens the texture, but eliminates a lot of the bitterness you can get from plain raw brussels sprouts.
And if you combine them with delicious dried cherries, roasted hazelnuts, shaved pecorino, all combined with a tangy mustard-shallot vinaigrette… well, I guess I don’t even know what will happen if you do all that, but I can promise you, it’s going to be good.Think of it as a gourmet coleslaw upgrade. Because (lets use some cognitive re-framing here) they are literally just mini cabbages, and therefore make everything you’re doing incredibly cute.
Brussels Sprout and Cherry Salad
- 1 lb brussels sprouts
- ½ cup farro
- ½ cup dried cherries
- ½ cup toasted hazelnuts chopped
- 2 oz pecorino romano sliced. Reserve extra for topping.
- Salt and pepper
_For mustard dressing_
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt and pepper
- Bring 1 large and 1 medium pots of water to boil on stove. Salt water, if desired. (Pots are for cooking the brussels sprouts and farro).
- Meanwhile, prepare brussels sprouts by shredding them in your food processor using the slicer attachment. You may also slice thinly by hand using a sharp knife, or using a hand-held mandolin.
- When medium pot of water boils, add farro. Boil for 12 minutes. Drain when complete and set aside.
- When large pot of water boils, add shredded brussels sprouts and blanch for 1-2 minutes, or until they are bright green and barely softened. Immediately drain and transfer to large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the color.
- To prepare cherries- place dried cherries in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for about 10 minutes or until cherries become plump and soft. Drain and set aside.
- To prepare the vinaigrette- combine minced shallot, vingear, olive oil, and honey in a small bowl. Season with pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk together and set aside.
- Chop your toasted hazelnuts and slice the cheese- set aside. (Note- to toast your own hazelnuts, bake nuts in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, stirring once. Then rub hazelnuts together aggressively in a kitchen towel to remove skins).
- Drain and dry brussels sprouts thoroughly. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Add farro, cherries, hazelnuts, and cheese. Toss lightly.
- Pour ¾ of the dressing over the salad. Taste. Add the remainder of the dressing if needed, to taste.
- Salt and pepper the finished salad- this helps to bring all the flavors together.
- Top with additional cheese and black pepper.