Whenever I see Brussels sprouts on the menu, I cringe. But for some reason they are a holiday favorite. No one has ever cooked a sprout I’ve enjoyed eating. Why do people insist on serving them? It reminds me of being a child and seeing something disgusting on your plate that your parents insist you eat. You stare at it wondering where the nearest potted plant or pet is. The little cabbages are either cooked to death and look like sad brown mush balls or they are so undercooked, you spend five minutes trying to chew through the tough and rubbery leaves.
In order to honor the sweet little Brussels sprout, I’ve created this easy sprout salad that allows you to delicately cook the leaves to a bright green color while still tenderizing them enough to enjoy warm or cold.
Another bonus to serving them with the leaves pealed is that guests won’t have to worry about trying to cut into a whole one and accidentally shooting their neighbor in the forehead with a sprout misfire.
Spare the sprout, and you’ll love the sprout.
Brussels Sprouts, Sage and Prosciutto Vinaigrette
An original TPP recipe
1tbsp olive oil
1 lb Brussels sprouts, all evenly sized, trimmed and cleaned
2 oz of prosciutto, coarsely chopped
½ cup onion, finely diced
2 tbsp sage, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
Optional Garnish: freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Cut Brussels spouts in half, peel back and separate leaves, including core. Blanch Brussels sprout leaves in a pot of salted boiling water until bright green, approximately 2-3 minutes. Transfer leaves to a bowl of iced water to set color. Drain and dry. (This step can be done in advance and stored in the fridge a few hours.)
In a large sauté pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Sauté prosciutto until crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Add onion and sauté until golden and soft. Toss in sage and garlic for another minute. Add balsamic vinegar and turn off heat.
Toss Brussels sprout leaves with warm vinaigrette and serve as a salad, or toss blanched leaves and sauté in the vinaigrette for another minute until heated through. Don’t overcook the leaves or the bright green color will start to yellow.
TIPS FOR BRUSSELS SPROUTS:
Buying: look for firm, compact heads; smaller heads are typically more tender and sweeter; choose heads that are consistent in size for even cooking
Cleaning: remove wilted or discolored outer leaves; trim away excess bottom; cut in half and soak in lemon or vinegar water to remove possible insects and dirt
Cooking: if cooking whole, cut an X in the bottom to expedite heat penetration; overcooking will cause the sprouts to lose color (so I recommend cutting them in half at a minimum); whole sprouts can be simmered in broth for 15 minutes or, as in the technique above, blanched for 3-5 minutes and refreshed in ice water then reheated at a later time or served cold in a salad
Storing: store in the fridge, uncooked and uncleaned, in a perforated plastic bag for 3-4 days; whole, blanched sprouts can be frozen
Patricia Bainter is a blogger and writer for 303magazine. She trained at Le Cordon Bleu London and shares her culinary musings and recipes at her own website ThePatricianPalette.com. Photos taken by Mark Woolcott Photography.