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11 November 2010

Brussels sprouts salad

brussels sprouts salad

I'm a little obsessed with this brussels sprouts salad. Does that make me weird?

You don't have to say it. I know I'm weird.

I'm weird enough that I just had to ask on Twitter: Brussels sprouts? brussels sprouts? brussel sprouts? My first instinct was the right one. But I've been seeing it spelled differently, with lower case, no s, and even an apostrophe, so I was temporarily confused. People, they were popularized in the city of Brussels in the 1300s, apparently. So they are sprouts from Brussels. The New York Times says we can make them lower case, if we want, since they have been popularized enough that we can refer to them colloquially, not as a brand name, per se. I'm stubborn and old-school. I was going with Brussels sprouts.

Then, the production editor for the Guardian newspaper in London wrote to me on Twitter. (I know, right? How wild is that?) He pointed out the Guardian and Observer style guide on capitalization, which states that the tendency toward turning lower case words " part reflects a less formal, less deferential society."

Well, I'm all for less formality, actually. And frankly, if The New York Times and the production editor of The Guardian suggest that I put this in lowercase, that's where I'm going.

(And you might be thinking, Shauna? Could you go back to the food? Okay.)

Brussels sprouts salad? Really, Shauna?

Yes. Really.

You might find that you have a certain feeling about brussels sprouts. In fact, for most of you that feeling might be Ewwwwww!

This salad will change your mind.

Danny and I first ate a version of this salad at Picnic, a wonderful place to buy pork campagne and a container of butternut squash soup, then grab a bottle of wine for a spontaneous gathering. (They call it a food and wine boutique.) It's here in Seattle, run by our friends Anson and Jenny.

Actually, they were Danny's friends first, when they all cooked together at a restaurant called Cassis. After cooking and serving food in that small space, Danny went on to cook at the restaurant we wrote about in our cookbook. Anson and Jenny got married. She went to cooking school. He worked at Crush.

The restaurant business is tough on the feet, the hands, and the mind. After awhile, Anson and Jenny decided to leave those more-than-full-time night-time jobs and open Picnic instead.

at Picnic

We're so happy they did. Picnic is a series of small perfections.

Walk into Picnic and you'll find a calm, spacious room with a well-stocked deli case at the end. Great wine, local honey, lovely chocolates, pots of jam and Rancho Gordo beans — Picnic has a good selection of foods you want to eat. Anson and Jenny have handpicked every single one with attentive care, focusing on local and small-batch made. They've never steered us the wrong way.

I love the quiet minimalism of Picnic. Last year I took a photo of this — the water glasses and silverware basket on the side wall. I had it as the desktop on our computer for awhile. I found it so calming. This is the dream — a house that feels like this. Of course, with an enthusiastic 2-year-old with an uncanny ability to open just the drawer you don't want her to find, this dream is far off in the distance for us. So we stop into Picnic.

We feel good when we are there.

There's an Ernest Hemingway quote I love: "What's moral is what you feel good after." I don't think he meant the empty head-rush kind of feeling good. I read it as the feeling you have when you have been sitting with a sure-headed friend, the one who makes you laugh and reminds you of the best version of who you can be. When you get up to leave, you feel strong in the gut and light at the same time.

Picnic feels like that.

Plus, their food is tremendous. Anson's pork rillettes are creamy, melt-in-the-mouth bites. His patés resist the fork for a moment, then yield. They're as good as Danny's. (That's saying something for me.) Their soups are smooth and full of bold flavor. And they make salads that make me long for vegetables.

A couple of weeks ago, we ordered this brussels sprouts salad, with aged cheddar and crumbled walnuts. We had a few bites of salumi, a bit of paté, some butternut squash soup, then an entire plate of this. I could have eaten another 3 plates of this.

So I have. At home. With a food processor's slicing blade, a bag full of brussels sprouts becomes greens, slightly nutty, bright and different than you imagined.

It's good to have your perceptions of the world shift, a bit. Good friends, and good places like Picnic, can do that to you.

Brussels Sprouts Salad, inspired by Anson and Jenny at Picnic and Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite

A few weeks ago, Melissa Clark came to Picnic to promote her wonderful new cookbook. If you don't know Melissa's Good Appetite column in the Wednesday New York Times, you are missing out on the opportunity to cook good food. She has a wonderful way of mixing both ordinary ingredients with a few unusual ones and creating dishes that you want to make instantly. Most Wednesday evenings, I do.

We met Melissa when we were in New York recently, at a brunch thrown by my good friend Jennifer Perillo. I felt a little awkward before meeting her. I'm such a geeky fan of her writing and food. Would I be able to string a sentence together coherently?

Luckily, she's wonderful and humble, a bit geeky and talking with her hands too. Within a few moments, I felt utterly comfortable with her. When she came to Seattle for her book, I was lucky enough to have dinner with her and her oldest friend. (I never know where my life is going next.)

We walked across the street to Picnic, where she had a conversation with my friend Molly in front of several dozen gathered people. Afterward, in the ferry ride home, I realized while looking through her beautifully written book that Melissa has a raw brussels sprouts salad recipe too.

Really, why resist? You need this. We're making it for Thanksgiving this year.

You can make this salad any way you wish. We have made this with aged cheddar cheese, Manchego, and hard goat cheese. Try pecans or pine nuts or almonds. You’ll be wanting to eat your sprouts. No kidding.

24 Brussels sprouts, washed and dried, woody ends cut off
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated fine
6 ounces walnuts, broken into small pieces
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Slice the Brussels sprouts thin on the slicing disc of the food processor. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a mandoline, carefully, or a sharp knife.)

Put the sprouts in a large bowl. Add the cheese and walnuts.

Put the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and mustard into a small jar, along with the salt and pepper. Put on the lid and shake that jar until the vinaigrette has come together.

Dress the salad with the vinaigrette. Toss and serve.

Feeds 8.

p.s. someone in the comments said she made the dressing for this with maple syrup. well, thank you so for saying that! we tried it tonight -- 1 teaspoon of maple syrup -- when we ate this salad again. hoo boy! that's good too. it brightens the dressing in a really lovely way. try that too.


At 2:20 PM, Blogger sweetpea said...

Next to cranberry, quite possible one of my most favorite foods. I love them roasted. I am going to give this a try very soon!

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Marina said...

I love 'em too; this is making my mouth water! YUM! Thanks for posting; can't wait to try it!!!

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just made a similar salad 2 nights ago! Mine was shaved brussels sprouts, walnuts, dried cranberries, pancetta, and a dressing from apple cider vinegar, olive oil, dijon, and maple syrup. Love, love, love brussels sprouts!

At 3:18 PM, Blogger stonesoupjewelry said...

My father-in-law and I are the only people at our family's Thanksgiving gathering who are happy to see the brussels sprouts every year. I feel everyone else is missing something really good. Perhaps I'll make this salad and bring it, without identifying the ingredients, and see what happens. I'd enjoy watching a few minds change.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Lora said...

My husband and I adore Brussels sprouts so I will definitely be trying this salad. I made my first salad with the sprouts a month or so ago and it was such a different taste that I look forward to doing it again.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger About the Coalition said...

I am not a brusselsprout-phobe. They're fabulous roasted. But never, ever have I contemplated having them raw. But why not? They're essentially tiny cabbages, right? So I intend to try this recipe soon!

Many of our members at the Coalition for Better Thyroid Care report that they have found that eliminating gluten helps them feel better. And that includes me....the achiness that I had thought was all thyroid-related evaporated when I gave gluten up.

Thanks for your contributions to raising awareness that leaving gluten behind can be a good thing....and on so many levels.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Sakshi said...

My mouth is watering already! I'm just coming off a 3 day juice cleanse and this seems the perfect lunch re-entry meal! (And, I even have a bag of brussels sprouts in my fridge;-) I just love those silly sprouts! Thank you for posting; as always, beautiful prose and drool-worthy recipes. :-)

At 4:25 PM, Blogger Jennifer Jo said...

This is very similar to an asparagus walnut salad I've learned to make ( Therefore, I KNOW this salad of yours would be delish.

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

i love brussels sprouts too! i can't wait to try this salad...yummy!

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Pétra said...

I have already posted on fb how I love brussels sprouts but that salad recipe looks so yummy I am making it tomorrow!!! All my favorite flavors I can't wait.

At 6:49 PM, Blogger Susan said...

ohmygoodness!!! I ate brussels sprouts for the first since I was forced to as a kid!!! I saw your newest blog entry and it was like a sign. Recently a friend of mine told me how she sautes her brussels sprouts. Then, Jessica Seinfeld's posted on her blog to not fear the brussels sprouts. As soon as I saw your recipe, I ran out to the store to pick up some sprouts.....I had no idea what I was even looking for, but guess what I found?? Brussels sprouts so fresh, they were still on the stalk! Whipped up your salad and I am now a brussels sprouts convert! YUMMO!

At 7:08 PM, Blogger Hannah said...

As someone who got in trouble when I lived at home for microwaving enormous bowls of brussels sprouts and eating them straight (and "stinking the joint up"), I'm so impressed by this cheesy version that words can't convey. Thanks so much, Shauna!

At 7:20 PM, Blogger StaceyBelle said...

Love brussels sprout salad! Love brussels sprouts, in general. And love that the Guardian got back to you on how we should all be writing it! I think the problem w/ the sprouts is people cook them to death, like so many vegetables. In my house, we're into broiling the suckers to blacken Yum

At 8:45 PM, Blogger zebe912 said...

I know the extra s at the end is proper considering the food's history, but I really want to petition that it go away. I'm a brussel sprout fan. That's how I say it, so that's how I'm going to type it.

Regardless, I love them sauteed, but if I need to use them up soon, I might have to try a version of this. I'm getting to where I don't mind a raw cabbage type flavor.

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yum. Love brussels sprouts. I usually just roast them, but I definitely think I will be trying this out tomorrow night.

At 10:25 PM, Blogger Bonnie said...

I knew there was a reason I bought Brussels sprouts tonight! My favourite vegetable, hands down.
The only downside to making Brussels "haters" into lovers is that I have to share them! Usually they are all mine at the Thanksgiving table. I convinced my husband and kids to love them a few years ago by sauteeing them in bacon, and now I can't seem to make big enough batches to satisfy us all! I'll try this tomorrow for lunch. Can't wait. I wonder if Parmesan would work, because I looooove it in a red cabbage salad...

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Justin said...

all the posts about B-sprouts are killing me because I've always loved them, even when I was a little kid!

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Marie Simas said...

I found this blog because I read about you in the Los Angeles Times article by Rene Lynch. I read your story (on your "about me") page and I actually got a little emotional.

Who is this healthy, vibrant woman with her healthy, vibrant man? I too, am a writer and married to the love of my life (who is also a chef).

I've had a rough couple of years-- after living most of my life as a size 4, I gained weight after the birth of my son and I've never been able to go back to my old self. My family is Portuguese and the thought of giving up bread and crackers seems incomprehensible.

But maybe it's time to try. I'm tired most of the time, and I've started subsisting on oatmeal and fruit shakes (they make me feel better than solid food). Every trip to the bathroom is an ordeal. Every time I eat bread my stomach distends like a malnourished child's. Has celiac disease darkened my doorstep?

Thanks for writing this blog. You've given me hope and ideas. I'm going to give it a try.

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I have to try this. I dislike Brussels sprouts (yes, even roasted, for those foodies who will insist I like them that way. I didn't stop being queer when I met the right man, either!), but this sounds like if I'm going to like them, this will be the way. Gracias!

At 7:07 AM, Blogger emily said...

It must be a great week for "eww, gross" foods. I made a really good Lima Bean Soup.

I love your recipes and your words. Thanks.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Katherine said...

made this! Amazing indeed. My 14 month old even loved it. Thank you once again :)

At 9:51 PM, Blogger MP said...

We had brussels sprouts twice last week because I too found them fresh on the stalk at Trader Joes, but there are a few left and seeing that salad made me want to get some more!
Everyone in my family loves the brussels so our Thanksgiving challenge every year is a new way to eat them and I think I've found it! By far the kids like them steamed and smothered in lemon butter, but we have had them creamed and sauted with bacon too. Thanks for the salad recipe. I want to eat them raw!

At 6:10 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have been OBSESSED with brussels sprouts lately. We've been having them roasted at least once a week for dinner for over a month. I cannot wait to try them raw in this salad--brilliant!

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Marina said...

Made a modified version of this tonight (I needed to bring down the calorie count & wanted to use ingredients I already had on hand)... SO good!!! My version is here: Thanks for the wonderful inspiration (as always!)!!

At 6:08 AM, Blogger gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

The beautiful stalks of Brussels Sprouts at Trader Joe's have gone home with me last week and this week. I never thought of making a salad with them. This looks really good.Thanks for the recipe

At 3:59 PM, Blogger Amy said...

DEEEE-licious. I made it tonight for dinner with the maple syrup (actually agave with maple extract...all I had on hand) addition. If I end up needing an additional Thanksgiving side, it will be this. My significant other hates the sprouts I will likely be eating this until Thanksgiving dinner!f

At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! I'm going to make it for Thanksgiving, too! (Assuming I can get to the store on the icy Seattle roads today.) I had been thinking about making a lemony version with apples that Mark Bittman had written about in the NYTimes, but yours sounds much better!

At 10:53 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Yay! My sissy is allergic to lettuce and she CAN eat cabbage! She will LOVE this salad! Bless you!

At 7:23 PM, Blogger Pétra said...

I have made this salad so many times already, Next version will have golden raisons and gorgonzola!!

At 10:53 PM, Blogger Baffled said...

I saw this recipe when you first posted it and finally had a chance to make it. I did make the dressing you suggested but didn't like the taste so I did an olive oil with a good balsamic vinegar and it was superb! Thank you so much for posting this. While I love brussle sprouts I have never had them in a salad and this was a treat!


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