Change up your summer salads: Brussels Sprouts Salad with Blue Cheese

by Terry B on July 10, 2013

A fresh, flavorful take on the ubiquitous summer salad. Shaved Brussels sprouts are dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, then tossed with pistachios, thyme and blue cheese. Recipe below.

brussels-sprouts-slaw

Leave it to us to find vegetarian inspiration in a hot dog joint. Not that Chicago-based Franks ‘n’ Dawgs is your typical joint. Their housemade artisan sausages (lamb, spicy beef, jerk goat, turkey & date, bay scallop…) are topped with everything from pickled green papaya to duck confit, giardiniera, Mako shark bacon and kimchi.

Besides delicious, inventive dogs, they serve up sublime sides. Lyonnaise fries (with braised pig cheek and poached egg). Truffle mac ‘n’ cheese. Creole red beans with blackened shrimp and jalapeño cornbread. And the subtle, citrusy Brussels sprouts salad that inspired this one.

Brussels sprouts have been enjoying a comeback in the kitchen of late. They’re fiber-rich, antioxidant-filled powerhouses of health benefits, fighting cancer and cholesterol, protecting DNA and more. They also taste good, if you don’t boil them to death. Here, uncooked, their mild flavor only hints at cabbage relatives, giving the salad a delicate slaw-like quality.

The Franks ‘n’ Dawgs version is made with “shaved Brussels sprouts, blood orange oil, lemon zest, toasted pistachios, dill and Parmesan cheese.” For our take on it, we created a bright citrus dressing with lemon juice and olive oil. We kept the pistachios, but swapped fresh thyme for the dill and blue cheese for the Parmesan. The result isn’t as delicate as the original, but it has the same summery freshness—and the sharp, salty blue cheese helps the salad hold its own with whatever main course you choose. We served it with pan-seared pork chops, but I could see it going beautifully with grilled salmon.

More than one way to shave a Brussels sprout. One food discussion that comes up again and again is whether single-purpose kitchen tools earn their keep. For us, we’re not ready to devote precious counter space to rice cookers or bread makers. And though we love our waffle iron when we use it once a year or so, it spends most of its life stowed in the back of a cabinet. But making this salad gave me a new appreciation for our mandoline.

Our modestly priced mandoline, which mostly keeps the waffle iron company, made quick work of turning the Brussels sprouts into a mound of perfectly sliced, slender strips of crunchy green. You can also shave them by hand—the recipe calls for only seven or so sprouts. Just make sure you’ve got a very sharp knife, decent knife skills and an abundance of patience.

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Blue Cheese
Serves 4 as a side (see Kitchen Notes)

1/4 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts (7 to 8 large sprouts)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
salt, to taste

special equipment: mandoline

Toast the pistachios in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low flame for 3 or so minutes, stirring occasionally. Even if they’re already roasted (ours, from Trader Joe’s, were), this will give them extra crunch. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Shave the Brussels sprouts crosswise into very thin strips. After slicing each sprout, either with a mandoline or by hand, gently toss the strips with your hands to separate them. Discard any solid white bits of the sprout’s core. These are edible, but detract from the frisée-like delicate texture of the dish.

Place shaved sprouts in a bowl and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, thyme leaves and pistachios. Add blue cheese and gently toss until just combined. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Serve.

Kitchen Notes

How many servings? At Frank ‘n’ Dawgs, Marion and I generally split a serving of their Brussels sprouts salad that’s roughly one-fourth the size of this recipe. Of course, we’re each eating a generous sausage tucked into a lobster roll-style split-top bun, so a few bites of salad are perfect. With a main course and perhaps another side, this recipe will serve 4. When I made this for the two of us, I served it with pan-seared pork chops and no other side. We just about polished it off and felt only slightly like we’d overdone it.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

kitchenriffs July 10, 2013 at 10:12 am

I’ve been playing with shaved Brussels sprouts lately too! No nuts in mine, and I like the idea – I should try it. And I’m a Parmesan guy when it comes to this salad, although the blue cheese does sound awfully tasty. I’m with you on rice cookers and bread machines. We do bake our own bread, but it’s so easy to do by hand. And I think a rice cooker would be handy, but we don’t eat that much rice – so it’d just sit there most of the time. And our mandoline lives in the basement, except for the few times we use it every year. I’d probably use it more, but that thing terrifies me! ;-)

Anne July 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Salad looks amazing (although I’m really hankering for the sausages described in the first two paragraphs). This winter we were doing a variation of shaved brussels sprouts with manchengo, toasted hazelnuts, and pomegranate seeds. Am looking forward to making this soon.

We have all of the appliances mentioned about. After we each gained 10 lbs over the course of a month thanks to the bread maker, it was relegated to a closet where it has stayed for 10 years. Our knife skills are better than our mandoline assembly skills. And agree that it’s scary! But we have worn out several rice makers, which are very convenient.

Terry B July 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Kitchenriffs, we’re big users of Parmesan too, but blue cheese really amped up this recipe for us (this was our second attempt—the first featured Parmesan). The first was good, but this version was the winner for us.

Anne, I have to admit I have, shall we say, a healthy respect for mandolines too. Our first was a piece of junk that I finally ditched. I bought a better one, but I think I had it for more than a year before even figuring out how to use it to make this salad. Once I did, it was such a breeze that I started thinking of other uses for it even as I sliced the Brussels sprouts. And BTW, the sausages at Franks ‘n’ Dawgs are even more amazing than they sound. Should you ever find yourself in Chicago, put this place on your list of places to eat.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) July 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I’m still learning to love Brussels sprouts, but I already love blue cheese, so this recipe is going on my list. I can’t quite imagine shaving the sprouts on my mandoline — for sure I’ll use the guard.

Terry B July 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Lydia, I absolutely use the guard. If you look at mandolines on Amazon, the “customers who bought this item also bought” item is invariably protective cut-and-slash-resistant gloves.

Karen July 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Thanks for the tip – I need that mandoline! I’ve made the almond/parm version of this salad and grated the Brussel sprouts, which was both tedious and dangerous. Anne’s winter version (with pomegranate seeds & manchego) also sounds wonderful.

herkkusuun lautasella July 15, 2013 at 5:46 am

brusselsprouts sounds so spetacularly “not salad” but with bluecheese it just might work…

Anita July 18, 2013 at 11:59 am

I’m very glad you made mention of the original recipes, because to me blue cheese tastes like evil disguised as food. I don’t mean I don’t care for it (okra, caraway seeds), I mean my animal instincts rear up yelling “Eject this stuff from your mouth NOW!” I’ve tried to learn to appreciate blue cheese, or at least ease into tolerance, but I just can’t. Anyway, I would have skipped this over if you hadn’t made reference to the parmesan version – I’m so glad you did. This was a really nice combo. And I will definitely play around with “what else can I combine with shaved brussels sprouts”.

Terry B July 19, 2013 at 9:24 am

Karen, I’m excited to do more with my mandoline now that I’ve made peace with it.

Herkkusuun, I know what you mean, but it really is “salady”—green and crisp.

Anita, it took me a good long while to warm up to blue cheese, so I understand your reaction. Glad you tried it with the Parmesan. I think a couple of other nice additions might be some crumbled bacon (not hard to see that, right?) and golden raisins for a sweet note.

Brittany July 24, 2013 at 10:54 am

I just started making Brussels sprouts for my family! I was under the impression, from childhood assumptions, that Brussels sprouts were stinky little suckers. Oh how I was wrong. They are delicious! I will definitely be making this for my family!

Terry B July 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hope you like it, Brittany! So many vegetables have gotten bad raps from being historically badly cooked. Spinach is another.

Ashley August 9, 2013 at 3:29 pm

This combination sounds wonderful!! I love Brussels sprouts, and an entire salad of them would be stellar!

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