It appears that summer is hanging on as long as possible, and I'm totally cool with that. The longer I can wear flip flops the better! But, because I develop the curriculum at The Chopping Block and I'm always working at least a month ahead, my brain is totally occupied by all things autumn. Several of our class menus have changed with the release of our October calendar, and I have been inspired to embrace the change of season upon us.
Last weekend, I went grocery shopping with my family, and my husband grabbed a bag of Brussels sprouts. I know that Brussels sprouts sometimes get a bad reputation, but that's usually because they are bland and overcooked. If they are cooked (or not cooked!) to the point of being “crisp-yet-tender” so they still have a bit of crunch, they are delightfully delicious.
Remember this… Brussels sprouts are just like tiny, little cabbages. They have a lot of great earthy flavor on their own, but they need to be balanced with some acidity to take them to the next level. They stand up really well to bold flavors, so don't be shy when it comes to seasoning them.
Brussels sprouts are extremely versatile, so one night we sautéed half of them with crispy bacon, and tossed in dried cranberries, toasted almonds and a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end. This was an excellent side dish with our oven-roasted chicken thighs and mashed potatoes. My kids thought it was Thanksgiving!
We still had half of the spouts left, so I decided to prepare them in a completely different way the following day. I made a very fall-focused, vegetarian salad featuring the sprouts raw and thinly sliced. In addition to the Brussels sprouts, I tossed in more fall favorites including baby kale and apples.
What really made this salad stand out was the vinaigrette. Remember how I said that Brussels sprouts need a punch of acid to brighten them up? Well, this was the icing on the cake! This is a bit different from the vinaigrette you're probably use to making in a bowl with a whisk. This vinaigrette is made in a sauté pan, because instead of using raw shallots and garlic, we develop their flavor and sauté them first.
- To make the vinaigrette, I first started by sautéing shallots and garlic in a sauté pan with olive oil. I then added golden raisins, and allowed them to plump up a bit. The sweetness of the raisins really balanced the earthy flavors of the sprouts and the kale. It was such a great combination!
- I then whisked in the Dijon mustard, and followed that with some lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh thyme, honey (use agave nectar to make this vegan) and red wine vinegar.
- While whisking quickly, I drizzled in the olive oil to form an emulsion (where two ingredients come together that don't normally want to mingle, like oil and vinegar).
- I seasoned the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste, and it was ready to go.
In a large salad bowl, I measured together the kale, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (I used the thin slicing blade on my food processor), and the apples.
I dressed the salad with the vinaigrette, and sprinkled in grated Parmesan cheese (again, omit this if you’re vegan) and toasted almonds (other nuts work here, too). I gave the salad and dressing a really good toss, tasted a bite, and ended up adding a bit more vinaigrette to the bowl along with a pinch of salt. This turned out to be one of those salads that can stand alone as a meal.
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Kale, Apples and Red Wine-Shallot Vinaigrette
Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 25 minutes
Start to finish: 25 minutes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 lemon juiced
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, rough chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chiffonade
1/2 pound brussels sprouts, thinly shaved
1 honey crisp or other sweet and crisp apple, julienned
1/2 cup hazelnuts or almonds, toasted and rough chopped
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- To make the vinaigrette, heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Gently sauté the shallot and garlic until aromatic, about 1 minute. Stir in the raisins and allow for them to plump up, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the mustard, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey and thyme.
- Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking quickly, to create an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust with more oil or vinegar, as needed. Set aside.
- In a medium-size salad bowl toss together the kale, Brussels sprouts, apples and nuts.
- Dress the salad with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat.
- Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, and serve.
Toast a piece of yummy bread to accompany the salad, and you have lunch or dinner done! This can also accompany a number of proteins or a beautiful bowl of pasta. You know where it would really shine? At the Thanksgiving table. I know… I'm not ready for Thanksgiving either, but I can't deny that it didn't cross my mind.
We are featuring Brussels sprouts in many of our October classes including:
- Know Your Gnocchi
- Autumn Soups and Stews
- Fall Dinner Party
- The Great Pumpkin
- Chicken 101
- Thanksgiving Workshop
- Thanksgiving Crash Course
Which one are you going to sign up for?