12.21.2011

Brussels Sprouts Salad

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This salad will make its third appearance at our table this month for Christmas dinner. You might be thinking, "Really? It doesn't look very special" and rolling your eyes. But you'd be wrong. This, I have decided, is the perfect winter salad.

When I first saw this salad pictured in the October issue of Bon Appetit I turned the page without giving it much thought. But then, I noticed the brussels sprouts were barely cooked and this could be prepared the day before.  Raw brussels sprouts, eh? Interesting. With that, I decided to add the salad to night one of the husband's birthday dinners (if you're getting tired of hearing about his dinners, don't worry, I only have one more recipe to blog about!)

Now, the recipe is altered. I didn't like the idea of walnuts, so I used pinenuts instead, and I wasn't about to go buy walnut oil, so I used good 'ol olive oil. And when I first tasted the undressed radicchio and brussels sprouts, a worried look settled on my face. The husband noticed. It was bitter, I told him. And I like bitter. But, this might be too bitter. Well, not much I could do at that point, I told myself. Maybe the flavors will chill out?

And the flavors did mellow. Once the salad was dressed, it only had traces of slight and pleasant bitterness. The mustard, shallot and pine nut vinaigrette was tangy and complimented the hearty greens. The lemon zest added freshness and lightness to the dish. My only complaint here is that is takes so long to separate the leaves of the sprouts. Those little heads of green are tight and don't want to come off. So a bit of patience is required.  Hopefully Santa will bring me some more patience this weekend as I prepare the salad one more time on Christmas day.
Brussels Sprouts Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 8

3 3/4 cups brussels sprouts, halved, cored, leaves separated
Kosher salt
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 medium shallot, minced
3 tablespoons plus 2 tsp. Champagne vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pinch sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 medium head of radicchio (about 5 oz.), cored and thinly sliced
Parmesan (for shaving)
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1) Blanch brussels sprouts in boiling salted water for 30 seconds; drain and immediately transfer to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Spin in a salad spinner to dry leaves (or pat dry with kitchen towels). (Can be made 2 days ahead. Wrap in a kitchen towel, transfer to a resealable plastic bag, and chill.)

2) Melt butter with 1 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add shallot and half the pine nuts; cook, stirring frequently, until shallot softens, about 2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar, mustard, and sugar. Remove vinaigrette from heat; season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can also be made 2 days ahead. Transfer to a container, cover, and chill. Let vinaigrette come to room temperature before serving.)

3)Place brussels sprouts and radicchio in a large bowl. Pour vinaigrette over brussels sprouts mixture and toss to coat well. Transfer to a serving dish. Using a vegetable peeler, shave cheese over. Sprinkle with lemon zest and remaining pine nuts. Drizzle with olive oil.

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