Brussels Sprouts Walnut Salad a la M. Wells

January  5, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

At a farewell party for Christine Muhlke, who is leaving her job as the food editor at The New York Times Magazine to become executive editor at Bon Appetit, the menu was very Gilded Age. There was veal tongue salad and coquilles St. Jacques, Tom & Jerry's mixed by Christine's husband, Oliver, and a good boozy punch, all laid out on the diner counters at M. Wells in Long Island City.

Toward the end of the party, just before the chef brought out a bunch of freshly shot woodcock for guests to help pluck, they set out a bowl of salad. All the greens -- brussels sprouts and arugula -- were finely shredded but still crisp, and there were slivers of venison jerky, flecks of celery, and bits of dried cranberry and walnut. Wrapping it all was a snappy and faintly spicy vinaigrette. A friend and I declared it the world's best salad. But we'd had Oliver's Tom & Jerry and were feeling merry. So maybe it's not the best, but it's definitely in the hall of fame. And I can't think of a better antidote to a month of gilded holiday gorging. Here is my made-up version of it. —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and shaved on a mandoline
  • 1 cup finely chopped baby arugula
  • 1 celery rib, trimmed and finely diced (1/8-inch dice)
  • 4 slices speck, cut into slivers
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch piment d'espelette, or to taste
  • Half a lemon, to taste
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the brussels sprouts, arugula, celery, speck, cranberries, walnuts, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil and add the piment d'espelette. Squeeze on about 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Gently fold the salad together, over and over, until it is fully blended. Taste and adjust seasoning.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Adelucchi
  • Jessie Kaye
    Jessie Kaye
  • Anne Jennings
    Anne Jennings
  • Stephanie Lucianovic
    Stephanie Lucianovic
  • QueenSashy
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

37 Reviews

Odegaard November 19, 2022
I make this salad every thanksgiving and it's always a hit.
Amanda H. November 19, 2022
So delighted to hear this -- happy Thanksgiving!
Adelucchi December 19, 2015
Great salad! I used the Kaletts, arugula, fennel (which I cooked 1 minute in the microwave and allowed to cool) , raisins, kalamata olives, walnuts, Parmesan cheese and the remainder of the ingredients. My husband does not like bitter greens but we had no leftovers. He loved it. Will make again with many combinations!!
Adelucchi December 18, 2015
Looked for a recipe for the new Kaletts and didn't see one. I switched to Brussel sprouts. Even though I love the look of the hybrid and didn't want to shred it, this sounds great! I'll try it and come back to let you know how it worked out. Thanks for the tip about the gloves while using the mandolin.
Jessie K. October 6, 2014
Try with a kalamata olive instead of spec for a salty treat!!
robin L. November 17, 2017
How was the olive sub-in for the meat?
Anne J. January 9, 2014
I just gave this recipe to my great friend, Meg. I am hoping she makes it and includes a comment here down the road! :)
EM-MV November 24, 2013
Freshly shot woodcock?!?! The recipe for the salad looks great but I couldn't quite get past that throwaway line about woodcocks. They are rare to see and quite a treat, especially if you see their mating dance, and it is impossible for me to believe they are raised as food. I am not a big animal protector but eating woodcock seems like it would be for shock value or bragging rights alone; there is not enough meat there to justify the death. IMHO.
Bonnie F. November 24, 2013
What is "speck"?
Christiane E. November 25, 2013
Anne J. July 27, 2013
Enjoyed again at Hedges Lake! Always delish with pork tenderloin!
Amanda H. July 28, 2013
Thanks for the pairing recommendation!
susanm March 28, 2013
I can't believe this recipe was posted forever ago and I am only just making it. BLOWN AWAY! Have eaten it for lunch or dinner 5 or 6 times in the last 3 weeks. Thanks Amanda.
Amanda H. July 28, 2013
Missed your comment earlier -- thanks so much!
Vivi B. March 19, 2013
passing on a great tip if you are trying not to grate your fingers when you do this - put band aids on your fingers. Just don't grate them!
lbyer123 January 13, 2014
Do yourself a favor and buy a butcher's cut-proof glove. You'll never worry about your fingers again.
Amy D. March 6, 2014
I bet my oyster-shucking glove would work. I need to try that, since I've cut myself many times with my mandoline.
BadCat March 5, 2013
What is Speck? I tried Googling it and all I got were links for iPhone cases!
Amanda H. March 13, 2013
It's a juniper-flavored cured ham from Tyrol -- an easy substitute for it is prosciutto.
Stephanie L. December 30, 2012
Also, my personal changes to this was to add sliced red onion (instead of speck, since I was serving with pork chops) and subbed dried currants for cranberries. I want to try with pecans instead of walnuts next time. I love walnuts and Brussels sprouts, but I'm just curious how it will be with pecans.
Amanda H. December 30, 2012
Thanks so much for trying it -- and your substitutions sound great. The onion one is great for vegetarians. My husband likes this recipe, too!
Stephanie L. December 30, 2012
Made this tonight and it was simply wonderful. Husband scraped the salad bowl and my entire body already feels very virtuous.
Kvanm September 9, 2012
Wow, is this a great salad! I made it for a dinner party last night. The only thing I changed was the walnuts; we have a nut allergy in the house so I used lightly chopped roasted pumpkin seeds instead. It was delicious - even the brussels sprouts "haters" cleaned their plates. Just don't be a klutz like me with the mandoline...those things are sharp. I'll be making this throughout the fall. Thanks!
Amanda H. September 9, 2012
The pumpkin seeds are a great idea. Thanks for letting us in on your tip!
QueenSashy August 29, 2012
I made it last night, and it made my day!
Amanda H. August 31, 2012
Always nice to receive a comment like this -- thank you!
Simon K. February 14, 2012
Took the Walnuts and Cranberries out then added some bacon and some butter seared Scallops on top - A different idea I know but this was my inspiration and made a great little starter
Amanda H. February 14, 2012
Sounds good. I like when recipes become like the telephone game.
aataylor January 19, 2012
This salad is amazing! We had it tonight with some lamb and a nice Burgundy and everyone loved it. I couldn't find speck so just used genoa salami from the grocery store and it worked beautifully! Reminds me of the chopped salad at my favorite French restaurant.
saladpride November 6, 2011
lovely salad! great blog!

David from Saladpride
DennisLikesToEat! October 12, 2011
. . .ummmm, what is piment d"espelette? I've got LOTS of spices and condiments, but this one? Nope.
Amanda H. October 12, 2011
It's a dried ground chile like cayenne. You could use cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes as a substitute.
drbabs February 13, 2011
I love this salad. I've been making some variation of it (pecans instead of walnuts or fennel instead of celery or Parmesan instead of Romano cheese--depending on what I have in the house) every week this winter.