I know that brussels sprouts inspire a strong reaction. Usually negative. And listen, I've been there too. The one and only time I ate brussels sprouts as a kid was at a family friend's where the sprouts were served boiled to the point of disintegration and they gave off that foul smell that only a cabbage can carry while dying, rotting purposely from the inside out. My father was there too. And when we got home and everyone hauled out of the station wagon he declared he'd hidden his in his hankie and promptly set off to the backyard compost.
I never thought about them again until I dated a cute and vivacious fellow with exceptionally good taste. He kept bragging about his hit salad, this thing made with brussels sprouts and squirts of lemon and generous amounts of grated salty parmesan. Looking at that face, it was hard not to believe there had to be a bit, even a tiny ounce, of truth to his declaration so I set off to experiment behind closed doors.
And he was right. Raw brussels sprouts are an entirely different beast than boiled ones. Roasted ones are pretty tasty too. But when you take the tiny cabbage buds and peel off their old fat outer layers and work with the tender inner bulb something magical happens. It doesn't work chopping them. You have to use the one blade on a box grater or a mandoline but shave a few of them up and toss them with fresh lemon juice and a bit of zest and some decent olive oil and some hard cheese -- gruyere, parma... -- and then toss in some pine nuts or toasted almonds or any variation on the nut it's a ridiculously tasty burst of flavours. It's good as a salad but incredible as a side. Especially now that we're hitting barbecue season. So go forth. Give the little nubs a shot.
This salad is made with:
shaved brussels sprouts
finely sliced radicchio (oh the sprout loves the bitter lettuces)
a tossing of slivered almonds
some salty crumbled goat feta
wee bit of dill
and ribboned kale
The kale was massaged a bit in olive oil. Which is embarrassing I know. Who massages their lettuces? I mean, really. But it tenderizes it and lets it hang out in full limp glory and it just meshes beautifully with everything else.
Here are more Brussels Sprout Salad recipes I've posted since becoming an almighty convert:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Toasted Pecans with Greens in a Warm Whiskey Dressing found here
Sliced Brussels Sprouts with Sugar Snap Peas and Fresh Mint in a Lemon Parmesan Dressing found here
Shaved Fennel and Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate seeds, Orange Sections and Toasted Hazelnuts found here