This salad may not look like much. It’s in an old, recycled jar, for one. Plus, the texture of the picture is a little grainy.
You can barely see the dried cranberry in the lower right corner poking its little slivered head out from beneath a cap of Brussels sprouts. But it’s a doozy. And when it’s sitting in front of you, with its chartreuse chards and bits of berry, it’s as inspirational as any salad made from tiny cabbages can be.
Sure, arguably “the sprout” has seen its heyday come and go. It has had to make way for millet, for sea beans, and for the lofty assertions that come with such plants. “They’re superfoods!” they say. “They fight cancer.” “They have fiber.”
“They mend dreams and fix broken promises,” they pretty much say.
“They’ll help you start that NGO.” “They’ll power your iPhone,” they say.
“They are the perfect post-recovery food after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.” “They’ll give you energy to crochet that hemp yarn into a farmers’ market tote.”
Too far, I say. It’s just a plant.
It makes me sad to see a vegetable’s relevance come and go. Debatably, sprouts have fallen faster on the trend scale than the pomegranate (who I am noting has recently been replaced by the persimmon).
But nevermind all this. This salad is delicious. And—in my lowly opinion—that’s the best argument there is for its consumption.
Its inspiration came from a salad that Area Four had on their menu last (gasp) winter. Also, their pizzas are great. Especially the clam and bacon. But I’m getting off track. Salad. Yes. If memory serves, their original sprout salad also had shredded kale in it. Maybe even some apple pieces.
I've made a number of versions of this dish since I first had it. And I must confess, by the time I’m finished shredding the sprouts, I’ve about had it with the mandoline. So I never bother with kale. Thus, the salad comes together rather quickly.
So consider this salad without its past halo of health and PR hullabaloo. Is it good for you? Sure. But it’s also tasty. Is it cutting edge? Doesn't matter. What's old becomes new again. And, in the meantime, I’ll be here. Eating this salad.
Lemony Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino and Cranberries
1 large branch of sprouts (between 2-3 cups shredded)
juice of 1 small lemon
a few gulgs of olive oil
¼ habanero pepper, seeds removed and minced
3-4 tbsp dried cranberries, roughly cut into slivers
2-4 tbsp pecorino cheese
a few juniper berries, crushed (use a mortar and pestle or rolling pin)
a few grinds of black pepper
pinch of salt
¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted
Slice the raw Brussels spouts very thinly with a mandoline, or by hand. Toss in the lemon juice and olive oil. Add in the habanero, cranberries, pecorino, salt, juniper, and black pepper. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Mix in toasted walnuts.
Makes a few cups worth.
-To toast walnuts, I usually heat them in a saucepan on low heat. It’s quicker than the oven and works just as well as long as you watch them. (They brown more quickly on the stovetop.)
-This is another recipe that lends well to adaptation. I’ve used dried cherries … added thinly sliced shallots … used a spicy sesame oil … but after all that I’ve decided I like this way best.
-If you don't have the juniper berries, leave them off. I bought a surplus and I like then with cabbage-y things.