Salad was the theme for our book club meeting last week – not the book, the food. I hosted and made salads. It’s not easy to come up with menus these days what with everyone’s food issues/restrictions/allergies/phobias/diets/dislikes, myself included, so it’s always an interesting challenge. Beth had the toughest one last month when book club met during Lent and she had to factor in give-ups. I made three of my favorite salads – cabbage salad with a peanut dressing (with a no peanut dressing option), spicy black bean salad (with a non-spicy, no cilantro option), and a Brussels sprouts-based selection that was the runaway hit – plus some make-your-own stuff in case of extreme persnicketyness.
Since the Brussels sprouts number was the clear winner, I made a solemn promise to post the recipe…after I figured it out, because I mostly just threw it together. The recipe below looks sort of long and complicated, but that’s just because I blab on a lot. Really it’s pretty easy. The honey-mustard dressing is the key. You can go full-on decadent with this, or scale it back if you’re worried about fat/calories. Either way it’s delicious. And don’t be all, like, “Brussels sprouts, ew!” Because even if you don’t like them cooked, they are completely different this way, and super YUM. I managed to stop stuffing it in my mouth long enough to snap a picture:
Brussels Sprout Salad
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts (about 20 or so average size)
5 oz arugula
1 apple (I use gala)
Juice of one lemon
1/2 lb bacon*
4 oz gorgonzola crumbs*
1/2 C walnut halves*
2 T plain stone ground mustard
2 T honey
2 T extra virgin olive oil*
2 T apple cider vinegar*
Make the dressing. I often make it ahead of time (like the day before) so all the flavors can incorporate well, and I find using a small jar with a tight-fitting lid works best, but you can also just whisk it together. Combine the mustard, honey, evoo, and vinegar and shake up or whisk well.
Wash the Brussels sprouts, drain well and dry and pull off the outer leaves. If using a food processor, chop off the stems first with a knife, cutting a bit into the sprout itself. If slicing by hand, leave the stems on because it will help you hold them. Thinly slice the sprouts into what looks like wrinkly disks, by hand or with a single-blade grater. Then work the slices a bit with your hands to separate the strands. Pull out the really chunky bits (there will be a few pieces of core). Long shreds is what you are going for.
Slice the arugula a bit too into strands that are similar to the sprouts, but slightly larger. Don’t stress about this too much, just grab a bunch and chop it down a bit.
Slice apple into six wedges, remove the core (leave skin on), then slice the wedges crossways for somewhat thin (but not too thin) pieces. Toss the apple pieces in the lemon juice to coat well and put on paper towel to drain.
Fry up the bacon and crumble (I usually do this ahead of time and actually bake it in the oven).
Toss the walnuts in a small fry pan on medium heat and, watching carefully and stirring/flipping often, toast them for just a few minutes until they smell fragrant and start to turn slightly golden. Remove from pan and roughly chop (don’t make the pieces too small).
Combine all the ingredients, pour on the dressing, and toss well to coat.
*Ways to modify the salad: The basic ingredients are the sprouts, arugula, apples and the honey mustard dressing. Add as much or as little of the other ingredients as you want. Don’t eat meat/bacon? Leave it out. Don’t eat dairy? Leave it out. Watching fat/calories? Use just half the gorgonzola/bacon/walnuts, or reduce the oil in dressing (increase the amount of vinegar by however much you reduce the oil to keep enough moisture…dressing will be slightly more tart). And finally, you can also just use less of the dressing on the salad.
Approximate nutritional information for the full-on-decadent version can be found in my SparkRecipes box.