As a child growing up, we ate a lot of vegetables in our house whether they made sense or not. Meals always included some sort of salad – in those days, a small side plate of sliced tomatoes with Good Seasons Italian dressing (remember the cruet – I still love that stuff) certainly qualified as a salad. Random vegetables like sauerkraut and red cabbage were served alongside perfectly “American” dinners of Salisbury steak and tuna casserole in an attempt to have something healthy at every meal. Looking back, I’m sure this is how carrots came to be the devil’s work in my mind – I distinctly remember a recipe of sliced carrots steamed then tossed with butter and fresh dill. After searching on the Internet, this is apparently still a popular flavor combination but it will never cross these lips again. I’m currently in food therapy trying to get over my aversion to carrots…and to dill, for that matter.
I’ve come to realize that the reason most people don’t like Brussels sprouts is due to an event very similar to this. They’ve been made to eat Brussels sprouts that were boiled. With no seasoning…or worse…from a can. I know I’ve said this about my other Brussels sprout recipes but I feel confident is proclaiming that this recipe will turn anyone into a Brussels sprout fan. Anyone.
Even when cooked “properly” – i.e. not boiled – many people complain about the bitterness of Brussels sprouts. I’ve never been much concerned about that – they’re one of my favorite vegetables. This salad recipe employs a technique with Brussels sprouts that I would have never thought to use with them. They’re flash fried. I had this salad at a restaurant here in Atlanta called 4th & Swift. Some of you who follow me on Twitter saw me rattling on and on about my wonderful meal there. So wonderful I went two nights in a row…and had this dish both times. Flash frying the sprouts takes the bitterness out and leaves them al dente with a nice char to the leaves. Mixed with creme fraiche, toasted pistachios and slivers of crisp apples – imagine a Brussels sprout Waldorf salad remix. The key here is to get a nice brown char on the leaves – waiting until the oil is perfectly hot before throwing them in is key. This is a very hearty salad to serve as a striking appetizer – a little bit goes a long way.
Brussels Sprout & Apple Salad – serves 4 as a hearty appetizer/salad – inspired by a dish at 4th & Swift in Atlanta, GA
– In a small bowl, squeeze the lemon juice over your thinly sliced apples to keep them from browning and set aside.
– In a heavy bottomed pot, heat up the oil until it reaches 350 or is shimmering – employ your oil thermometer here. If you don’t have a thermometer, toss one of the discarded leaves in the oil when you think it is hot enough – it should crackle and start to fry. When the oil is up to temp, put in the Brussels sprouts cut side down and fry for 4-5 minutes. Keep an eye on these as the cooking time will vary depending on size. When they’re fried and brown on the cut sides and edges of leaving, remove from oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate to cool.
– Meanwhile, place the apple cider vinegar in a medium sized bowl. When the sprouts have cooled slightly and any excess oil drained off, toss them in the vinegar quickly. You’re just trying to coat them here & not get them soggy. Do this right as you’re ready to plate them to serve.
– To assemble: Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of creme fraiche on each of your chosen serving plates – I just spooned mine on to make a bed for the sprouts but use a squeeze bottle if you’re feeling frisky. Evenly portion out your Brussels sprouts and thinly sliced apples on each plate. Sprinkle the salad with roasted pistachios. If there is any residual apple cider left in the bowl you tossed the sprouts with, spoon the remainder over the sprouts once plated. If you feel like the dish needs it – mine did not – sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.