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.
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.
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.