I don’t usually look forward to catering events, especially when they appear in a consecutive schmear of google green (busy) on my gcal. But I am positively pumped about tonight. I’m chef-ing for a marriage proposal!
I didn’t realize that marriage proposal planners existed before I was contacted a few weeks ago to help do the food for one happy couple’s exciting night. I won’t go into any more detail, lest the bride-to-be read food blogs. But it’s been a lot of fun putting together an intimate 5-course tasting menu with the groom, and I can’t wait to play a small part in their special night.
None of this has anything to do with Brussels Sprouts, but I thought I’d share. As for the dish at hand…
I’ve made several versions of this salad over the past month. To be honest, I’d never messed around with raw Brussels sprouts. When you can have the greasy, crispy roasted version, what’s the point? But I love the look of elegant ribbon-y salads. My friend Whitney once told me that she finds my kale salad very sexy – one of the many reasons I continue to make it all the time.
I had a little trouble getting the ribbon-y look without a mandolin. I own one, but I didn’t want to tempt the gods with something as small and precarious as a Brussels sprout. There’s a lot of karma that could potentially come to roost in the form of a missing finger. So I thinly sliced them by hand into little wedges, which looked rather nice too.
My favorite part about this dish is the pimenton vinaigrette. I was inspired by this Food52 recipe. The first time I made this salad I followed the vinaigrette, which involved heating oil in a saucepan and steeping the garlic and spices in it, exactly. The next few times I switched out the sherry vinegar for lemon juice and heated the oil in the microwave. One time I didn’t heat it at all, but I found that it really helps the pimenton come alive.
This salad would be a perfect New Year’s Eve starter or side – it just has that kind of special feel on the plate, and that kind of labor-intensive annoyingness when you’re peeling the tough outer layers off of all those sprouts, to make you only want to make it once in a while. You can beef it up with a bed of baby kale underneath. But don’t skimp on the shaved manchego – that’s just the kind of indulgent ribbon that this salad craves. Plus, we only have a few hours left until midnight, when we all have to resolve to eat less cheese.
Since I’ll be sitting in a dark room all next week, recovering from catering and eating soup (chewing involves too much energy), you might not hear from me before Christmas. I hope you all have a wonderful and delicious time with your families.
Happy holidays and, as always, eat up!
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Manchego and Pimenton
- 1 pound brussels sprouts
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 small shallot halved and very thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup whole blanched almonds
- ¼ cup coarse manchego cheese shavings use a vegetable peeler
Trim the ends from the Brussels sprouts and peel off any of the tough outer leaves. Halve each sprout length-wise, and thinly slice. Alternatively, you can use a mandoline, but I actually think it's faster with your knife.
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, thyme, and pimenton and remove from the heat. Whisk in the lemon juice and salt.
Toss the vinaigrette with the sprouts, shallots, and almonds. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice or salt as necessary. Transfer salad to a serving platter and top with the manchego shavings and a sprinkle of pimenton.