Salad

A Nutty, Cheesy, Buttery Salad (Yes, Salad!)

March 20, 2018

Brussels sprouts can be boiled or roasted, charred or pot-stuck, fried or sautéd—or shaved. I’m not one to pick favorites, but the last is my favorite of the moment, as winter flirts with spring and I’m tiring, more and more, of cooked vegetables, craving something crunchy and raw instead.

Enter my new favorite salad, halfway between hearty and light. To start, turn to your handy-dandy mandoline, a kitchen tool that seems intimidating until you get to know it, only to realize it’s your best friend. If you don’t have one, here’s why you might want one: With a mandoline, what once was tedious, even impossibly exact knife work turns into a hair-blowing-in-the-wind breeze. Sure, you could cut Brussels sprouts by hand, but the time will be longer and the result, chunkier. If you’re wary of fingers getting too close to the blade (totally reasonable), hold the vegetables with a thin, folded linen. The goal here: slaw-like ribbons, which get all tangled up.

The dressing is where things get wild. You know and love classic vinaigrettes with oil and vinegar. Here, the oil makes way for butter. Yes, butter! You melt it, then let it keep going, keep going, until the milk solids start to turn nutty and brown and the whole kitchen smells like hazelnuts. Pour over some chopped walnuts in a heatproof bowl—this not only gives the walnuts a little wake-up call, but gets ahead of any butter-burning. Combine chopped shallot, Dijon mustard, water, and any vinegar (I especially like apple cider or sherry here) in a food processor or blender. Add the brown butter walnuts and whirl away.

Bread and butter(y) salad. Photo by Rocky Luten

This can be made in advance and refrigerated; just keep in mind that it will solidify, and that’s okay. Microwave or gently warm it over the stove until liquidy again. You want it mostly room temperature when you dress the sprouts, so they stay raw and bright. Call in lots of salty pecorino, freshly ground black pepper, and more walnuts for good measure, and you have my new favorite salad. Is there anything Brussels sprouts can’t do?

What’s your favorite way to eat Brussels sprouts? Let us know in the comments below!

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