Shaved Brussels Sprout Slaw

November 6, 2011

It has been a slow transition to fall around here.  Halloween has come and passed, but until today the skies have been clear and the air relatively warm.  This must be the reason I have not yet completely embraced the hearty warm foods of the darker months.  Now daylight savings has come to an end and the rains are finally pelting down. The last of the tomatoes found their way into salsa and the eggplants into stir fries. It is time to break out the symbolic fall and winter vegetables and what better to start with than brussels sprouts in salad form?

Shaved Brussels Sprout Slaw is a bright and crisp salad.  Brussels sprouts (which are rarely served raw) are sliced very thin and tossed with red onion, a lemony mustard vinaigrette, and percorino romano cheese.  If you think you do not like brussels sprouts, be sure to give this a try.  Leaving them raw keeps them crisp and mild in flavor with none of the distinctive odor that comes from cooking them.  Serve this salad with just about anything, but I love to serve it beside some other rich saucy dish where it adds a fresh and acidic counterpoint.

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For many people Brussels sprouts rank right up there with lima beans and lutefisk for the food they would least like to see on their dining table.  While I cannot speak for the other two, I can tell you that Brussels sprouts have been unfairly charged.  These dense little gems are not only delicious, but also incredibly nutritious and filling too (a feature that is quite a strength in the month of January when many of us are attempting to recover from the holiday bulge).

It is easy to understand why these green meatballs earned their bad rap.  Boiled to oblivion, the leafy globes take on a putrid aroma and ooze  nasty green juice when you attempt to cut off a bite.  The key to creating a delicious side dish is to prepare them properly.  I often halve the Brussels sprouts,  toss them in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven.  It is super easy and they turn out delicious. The dish enclosed in this post, however, is cooked on the stove top, allowing for more even cooking.  It has quickly become our favorite.

The recipe included today is based on one published in our local paper a couple of months ago.  The original recipe includes bacon and 1/2 cup of olive oil.  While I have no doubt that those additions add a lot of flavor to the dish, I am not feeling nearly as decadent as I was last month (see aforementioned holiday bulge).  Feel free to add the bacon and drizzle on as much oil as you desire!  What I share with you are simply sauteed Brussels sprouts topped with garlicky bread crumbs and parmesan.  They are easy to prepare, delicious, and nothing like the Brussels sprouts you may have eaten (or pretended to) as a kid.  Try them and let me know what you think!

Brussels Sprouts with Garlicky Bread Crumbs

Adapted from Scopa Restaurant

(originally published in Press Democrat)

Makes 4 servings as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

3 hefty pinches of black pepper

1 pinch of salt or to taste

1-2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs (see note below)

1-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Trim and quarter the brussel sprouts.  Heat pan over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add  the quartered brussel sprouts, salt, and pepper.  After 30-60 seconds move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides.  Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes.  As the pan becomes dry, add a drizzle of remaining olive oil every 2 minutes or so.  The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on 1-2 sides of each sprout.  Be careful not to burn them or they will turn bitter.

Once sprouts are caramelized, cook for another 3-4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their center.  Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

To toast breadcrumbs: Saute breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and ½ clove of minced garlic on medium heat until browned.   Watch carefully, the breadcrumbs will go from brown to burnt very quickly.

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe:

Brussel Sprouts with Garlicky Bread Crumbs

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As the winter wears on, it is easy to think fondly of the bounty of summer…  sweet juicy tomatoes, crisp peppers, non-stop zucchini.  You have to work hard not to  eat “seasonally” in the summertime.  But what about in January?  I try feed my family on as many home-grown veggies as possible.  This lofty goal is fairly easy to attain in the warm months and significantly more challenging in the winter.  I am very grateful that our life does not depend upon nourishment from our backyard.  This month, we would be subsisting on satsumas, garlic, the last stray raspberry, and an occasional egg.  Well not quite, there is always the kale.

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