Written by Rebecca Peters-Golden
One of the bummers about salad is that, if you’re like me and you’re preparing food for one person, you always end up with odds and ends of your veggies left over. Call me irritable (I am definitely irritable), but staring at half a cucumber, half a tomato, half a pepper, etc., annoys me. They take up space in my refrigerator, waste plastic bags, and, if I don’t finish them in a day or two, the veggies turn to liquid fertilizer and have to be tossed (and not in the nice, salad-y way).
So though I love salad, in the winter I find myself defaulting to leftover-friendly roasted veggies more than raw. This year, though, I was determined to winterize my salad. The results? A shaved Brussels sprout salad that I’m pretty obsessed with (read: eat at least twice a week). Not only does it taste amazing, but it also has convenience to recommend it.
Brussels sprouts, being a hearty miracle food, will basically last in your refrigerator until the end of time (okay, maybe three weeks) as long as they’re not wet. That means you can use some of them to make your salad tonight, roast some next week, and still keep a few on hand to make another salad for lunch two weeks later. No waste; no rotting; no getting sick of your delicious food because you have to eat it three days in a row.
You may have noticed that this salad looks rather impressive—those pretty ribbons of sprout! I definitely thought so the first time I encountered it in a restaurant. It’s actually quite easy to do it at home, though, as long as you have a mandoline. I know, I know, most single-use kitchen gadgets just clutter up my small kitchen and are annoying to wash. But, before you start throwing semi-rotten halves of cucumber and tomato at the computer screen, hear me out: there’s no need to buy a great hulking model if you’re cooking for one. A small, handheld mandoline like my serviceable little OXO model (only $15) is an unexpectedly handy kitchen tool. It’s easy to clean and makes quick work of slicing all vegetables (even those pesky on-the-edge-of-going-bad ones) into any salad (or pasta, or couscous, or slaw for that matter) so that your ingredients will blend nicely.
[Editor’s note: if you’re ready to spend a few more dollars, I recommend the De Buyer Kobra slicer for razor-sharp slicing and micro-adjustable thickness. And for a tighter grip on your vegetables than the mandoline’s plastic hand guard can provide, pick up a washable cutproof kitchen glove (also known as an oyster glove) along with your mandoline for guaranteed safety when slicing.]
Because this salad looks fancy, it’s great for company, but also for a quick lunch on the go. You can make the dressing the day before, if you like, and you can shred those sprouts hours ahead of time and they won’t lose their crispness.
But my favorite thing about this salad is its versatility. A few variations I particularly love:
- Fry up some bacon and crumble it and some hardboiled egg for a lovely breakfast-inspired salad. For bonus deliciousness, sub bacon grease for the oil in your dressing; it’ll give it a really rich flavor and the Brussels sprouts are hearty enough to stand up to it, unlike wimpy lettuce.
- Go for a Mediterranean flavor profile like in my favorite tuna salad. Chop up bread and butter pickles, kalamata olives, and capers and add to the salad along with some crumbled feta cheese. Use the pickle juice as the vinegar in your dressing for a tangy, bright flavor, and top with fresh parsley.
- Add chopped avocado, a little pan-fried corn, and some chopped tomato for more of a taco salad. Bonus: throw in some cumin-scented black beans, some crushed tortilla chips, and top with fresh cilantro.
- 1 head of garlic, unpeeled
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons vinegar, lemon juice, or pickle brine
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- cayenne powder to taste (optional)
- 15-20 large Brussels sprouts to yield 2 1/2-3 cups of shredded sprouts
- 3 medium radishes, sliced on the mandoline
- 1 very small raw beet, peeled and shredded on a julienne slicer
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
There really is no end to the delicious additions you can make. Any raw veggie is fair game—chopped spinach, kale, scallions, and cucumber are particularly good. I’ve added pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chopped pecans, leftover grilled zucchini, dollops of goat cheese, chopped figs, roasted chickpeas; even a few tablespoons of leftover sautéed ground lamb from last month’s kofta. Once you have the ratio for making the dressing, your fridge is the limit!
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Makes 1 dinner-sized portion —halve for a side salad or double/treble for company using the same ratios
Roasted Garlic and Mustard Vinaigrette
Any other veggies, cheeses, meats, nuts you’d like. I like for the sprouts to make up about 3/4 of the salad, but feel free to tweak the ratio however you like. The salad pictured with this post includes:
Make your dressing first to give the flavors time to come together:
Preheat the oven (or toaster oven to 250˚F. Slice off the top of the garlic head so the cloves are exposed and put it face-down in a very small oven-safe bowl or casserole dish. Pour the olive oil into the bowl. Roast the garlic for 45 minutes to an hour, until the garlic cloves are soft and spreadable but not burnt.
Remove from the oven until the garlic is cool enough to touch. Pour the olive oil into a mixing bowl or mason jar and squeeze as many cloves out of the head as you like into the bowl. Whisk together to break up the cloves and start assembling the dressing—the garlic makes a thicker dressing that really drapes over the shredded sprouts.
Leftover roasted garlic and oil will keep in the fridge in an airtight jar for a few weeks. If you don’t have time to roast garlic, or you don’t like garlic, just use regular olive oil for the dressing.
Add vinegar or your acid of choice, honey, and mustard to the oil and garlic and whisk or shake to combine. Taste, and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to your liking. Leftover dressing will keep nicely in the fridge in an airtight jar for about a week.
Prepare your sprouts:
Remove any discolored leaves and chop the root end off each sprout if using the mandoline’s hand guard. If using a cutproof glove, leave the root end attached as a “handle” for you to hold.
Shave your sprouts, and don’t worry that some of the pieces are a little uneven. When you toss the salad it’ll all combine, and it’s nice to have those different textures. I like to use the medium setting on the mandoline so that the ribbons of sprout aren’t too, too thin. I think this helps them hold the dressing and gives the salad more bite.
Add your mix-ins you’re using, shake your dressing to make sure it’s combined, and dress your salad. Adjust for salt and pepper and enjoy!