I used to think that the best way to enjoy Brussels sprouts was to roast them to a dark, caramel fare-thee-well. I’d toss them with a little oil and salt, then blast them in a hot oven, so that they’d emerge crisp and sweet, the perfect finger food to pick right off the pan.
But the other night, running short on time and long on Brussels sprouts, I decided to shred them quickly and treat them with plenty of good peppery olive oil, lemon juice, a hit of mustard, lots of garlic, shreds of creamy aged Gouda and toasted almonds for crunch. The result was simplicity itself. Fresh and bright tasting, this surprisingly easy, flavor-packed salad was just right with the bowl of hefty chili we served alongside.
Brussels sprouts look like mini green cabbages that seem fit for fairy-tale trolls. Right now, they’re at the peak of their season because a recent frost in the fields has sweetened them a bit. Sprouts react to cold weather by producing more sugars. You can find them at the farmers markets sold on their stalks, resembling a troubadour’s “jingle stick.”
When shopping for Brussels sprouts, look for bright green heads that are firm and heavy for their size. The leaves should be tightly backed. Avoid those with yellowing leaves or black spots.
I prefer the smaller Brussels sprouts because they tend to be milder tasting, while the larger sprouts are more cabbage-like. They’re equally good purchased on or off their stems. Store Brussels sprouts in a bowl or unlidded container in the refrigerator. The outer leaves will wilt a little in the open air, but the inner part of the sprout will remain protected. Plastic bags tend to trap moisture and quicken the sprouts’ demise.
To prepare Brussels sprouts, trim off and discard the dry part of the stem at the base as well as any outer leaves.
I’m still a fan of roasting Brussels sprouts in a hot oven to drizzle with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice for a side dish or to toss into pasta or scatter on pizza. They’re also terrific shredded and fried in butter for hash to top with a poached egg and bacon or crumbled feta cheese.
Brussels sprouts are the darlings of my kitchen — the new kale.
Lemony Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: Shave the Brussels sprouts very thin for a delicate slaw. This is most easily done in a food processor, but the rough look of hand-slicing with a sharp knife is really nice. This recipe calls for aged Gouda cheese, but a nice Pecorino or Parmesan is delicious as well. To toast the almonds, spread on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated 350-degree oven until just lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. The salad can be made ahead and will keep in a covered container for a day in the refrigerator. From Beth Dooley.
• 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
• 2 tsp. coarse mustard
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, discolored or wilted leaves discarded and bottoms trimmed.
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• 1/4 c. shredded aged Gouda cheese (see Note)
• 1/4 c. blanched sliced almonds, toasted (see Note)
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard and garlic, then whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream.
Put the Brussels sprouts into a large bowl and toss in the vinaigrette to coat the leaves. Season to taste with the salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes. Toss in the cheese. Serve garnished with the sliced toasted almonds.
Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:
Calories 170 Fat 13 g Sodium 80 mg
Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 3 g
Protein 6 g Cholesterol 5 mg Dietary fiber 4 g
Exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 2 ½ fat.
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.