Friday, November 7, 2014

Brussels Sprout Leaf Salad

Last Year's Post:Halibut Provencale
Two Years Ago: Turkey and Gruyere French Dip

The Perfect Holiday Salad
Brussels sprout leaves?  Yep, that's what happens when you use a little knife to cut the bottom off each sprout and peel off the outer leaves.  So why on earth would you want to take the time to do that?  Well, because after you blanch them and toss them with arugula and endive, they make a most beautiful and delicious salad.  It's worth the effort, trust me.  OK, maybe you don't want to make it every day, but it's perfect for large gatherings because the sturdy leaves don't wilt as the salad sits on a buffet table.  And it's the perfect salad for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner because the bright lemon dressing and crunchy, slightly bitter greens are a refreshing contrast to all the other heavy rich foods.

Peeling the Brussels sprouts does take a little time, but I've done way more time-consuming things in my life.  Think of it as a labor of love.  Or, recruit one of the relatives that are milling around your house (preferably one that you like) and peel together while sipping on a glass of wine and chatting.  Sounds very holiday-ish, doesn't it?

The only trick is figuring out how to peel the little guys.  You just take a small knife and cut off the bottom, then peel off the first layer of outer leaves.  Make another thin cut on the bottom to peel off the next layer of leaves.  Use your judgment regarding when to stop peeling - you want the bigger, greener outer leaves but not the core.

A quick blanch in boiling water helps set the beautiful green color and mellows the leaves just a little.  The dark green of the arugula and Brussels sprout leaves looks beautiful against the pale yellow and white of the endive.

A topping of toasted almonds is the perfect final touch.  If you don't like almonds you could substitute walnuts or pecans, but I really liked the almonds with the greens.

You can prep all the ingredients several hours in advance and refrigerate - just don't add the dressing or almonds to the salad until right before serving.  And you'll probably want to double the recipe if you're serving a big group as part of your holiday dinner.  Have fun!

Brussels Sprout Leaf Salad
Serves 4-6

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (approximately one large lemon)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ lbs Brussels sprouts
2 cups baby arugula
1 head Belgian endive
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl to combine.  Set aside.

Using a small paring knife, cut the end off each Brussels sprout and remove the outer layer of leaves.  Make another small cut on the end to release another layer of leaves, then remove a third layer of leaves in the same way.  Reserve the cores for another use.

Bring a large pan of water to a boil over medium-high heat; add the leaves and cook for 1 minute.  Remove immediately and place in a bowl of ice water to cool, then drain thoroughly in a colander, shaking to get rid of excess moisture.

Cut the end off the Belgian endive, then cut crosswise into ½” pieces. 

Note:  at this point the dressing, endive, arugula and Brussels sprout leaves may be refrigerated, covered, for several hours.  Do not add the dressing to the salad until right before serving.

Put the arugula, endive, and Brussels sprout leaves in a large salad bowl.  Add the dressing just before serving and toss together, then sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

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