shaved brussels sprouts

shaved brussels sprout salad

Earlier this week I shared my first official Thanksgiving recipe for the year. Now that I think about it though, I guess I started sharing things a little out of order.

shaved brussels sprouts salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

Sometime next week I’ll let you guys in on my secret for perfectly cooked, perfectly moist turkey, and I might even give you a sneak peek into the rest of the meal. Today, though, I’m sharing my first course.

shaved brussels sprouts salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

Have you ever noticed how certain vegetables get a bad rap?

Brussels sprouts have a reputation for making children stick their tongues out and gag, but I know more people who love them than don’t. I never ate brussels sprouts growing up, I don’t even think I’d tasted one until college. A few years ago I was gabbing with my mom on the phone when I casually mentioned that i was roasting brussels sprouts for dinner. She was like, “Really? Brussels sprouts? You like Brussels sprouts?”

This got me thinking. Maybe it was the parents that didn’t like brussels sprouts? Maybe I grew up thinking they were gross even though I’d never had them, because my parents thought they were gross? If that was the case, I would guess that that generation didn’t like them because of the way they were prepared by the previous generation, our grandparents.
Growing up I also thought I hated asparagus. My grandfather has a gorgeous vegetable garden with a huge asparagus patch, and every spring he’d get really excited when the pale little stalks started coming in. He’d be out in the garden bent over staring at the ground with a little paring knife just waiting for the moment they were ready for harvest.
But then my grandmother would wash the stalks, plunk them into a pot of boiling water, and boil the ever loving crap out of them until they were reduced to limp, flabby, grey-green strands having little in common with what went into the pot initially. Then they’d be served, covered in butter and smelling like farts, where I’d politely decline or push them around my plate until I was excused. If I was forced to guess why my parents might not have liked brussels sprouts, it probably was because they’d only ever had them prepared the same way my grandmother prepared asparagus. Boiled until mushy and farty and entirely unappetizing.

shaved brussels sprouts salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

Oddly enough, I was gabbing with mom again sometime last week and she mentioned that my 16 year old sister had ordered brussels sprouts out at a restaurant. My how the tables had turned! It was my turn to ask, “Really? Brussels sprouts? She likes brussels sprouts?”
This time around though, mom’s response was a little different. “Yeah, She does! We both do. We love them!”

My my how times have changed. In world where Kale is king, Brussels sprouts might be queen. Or at least, maybe the little prince?

I think that the trend of properly cooking vegetables, leaving them bright and crisp and flavorful (and more nutritious), has finally reached the restaurants in my little slice of Upstate New York and taught my mom to finally see brussels sprouts in a different light.

shaved brussels sprouts salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

For this recipe I wanted to get as far away from mushy, farty, overcooked sprouts as possible, so I shaved them super thin with a mandolin and tossed them completely raw with a few simple ingredients.

The first time I tested this salad out on Russell, the sprouts I used were sort of sad and wilty and well past their prime, and the resulting salad was really unpleasant. No matter how thinly I shaved them, they were rubbery and flabby and no fun at all to eat raw. Russell said the salad was awful and that I should do something else, something with wilted brussels sprouts or maybe arugula or something.
I almost took his advice and ditched the recipe altogether, but I knew I really had something with this idea, and that better fresher sprouts would result in a far superior salad. So, I decided to ignore Russell’s advice and try the recipe again with fresher, crisper produce. Even Russell had to admit it was a huge success, entirely different from the first attempt.

So, take it from me, when eating them raw you really need to make sure your brussels sprouts are as fresh as can be.

shaved brussels sprouts salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

This salad is bright, light, delicate, and wonderfully refreshing. While it would make a great side salad for any meal, it’s the perfect thing to serve along with a rich, hearty, heavy meal like Thanksgiving dinner. It’s exactly what you want along with all that decadent food. The crisp bitter walnuts, crunchy sweet bursting pomegranate seeds, freshly shaved raw brussels sprouts, and simple bright lemony dressing are a welcome contrast against all the rich roasty indulgences that make up the rest of the meal. A lot of similar salads call for goat cheese or parmesan to compliment the acidic and bitter flavors, but I intentionally kept this salad as light and simple as possible, and it couldn’t be more perfect.

shaved brussels sprouts salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Dressing: 
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
generous salt and pepper to taste

Salad:
1 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts
1 1/2 cups walnuts
1 1/2 to 2 cups pomegranate seeds

To make the dressing combine olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl or lidded jar and whisk or shake until well combined. Can be made a day ahead an stored in an airtight jar.

Slice off the tough bottoms of the brussels sprouts and discard. Using a mandolin slicer (use a guard and watch those fingers) or the slicing blade of a food processor (or with a sharp knife and some patience) slice the brussels sprouts as thinly as possible. Soak in very cold water for 5 to 10 minutes before drying with a salad spinner or some kitchen towels. If necessary, this can be done a day ahead and covered with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap or an air tight lid.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them for about 8 minutes or until they smell like toasty nutty heaven. Be careful they don’t burn. Cool.

Combine brussels sprouts, walnuts, pomegranate seeds, and dressing and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately.

Note: Brussels sprouts should be as fresh as you can find them or they can be rubbery and a bit unpleasant to eat raw. The thinner you can shave them, the easier they’ll be to eat.

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Home Style Pizza with Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Capicola

When I was growing up there were two different categories of pizza. There was the kind you got at a Pizzeria, which in upstate New York usually meant New York style or something similar but slightly thicker, and then there was pizza at Grandma’s house.

Homestyle pizza with shaved brussels sprouts and capicola | Brooklyn Homemaker
Any meal at Grandma’s house was special, and when I was growing up I considered my grandmother to be the worlds greatest cook. But then, what kid didn’t? Pizza night at Grandma’s was always especially exciting because dinner was served on paper towels so we didn’t have set the table, and we got to drink Pepsi on ice instead of milk with dinner. Grandma’s pizza was thick and bready, topped with bagged grated mozzarella, and Hormel pepperoni or fresh crumbles of sweet Italian sausage. She baked it in a jelly roll pan with dried oregano and lots of sauce.

Homestyle pizza with shaved brussels sprouts and capicola | Brooklyn Homemaker

This type of thick crusty pizza goes by many names, Sicilian style, Detroit style, even Grandma style, but I just call it home style. As I grew up and started cooking myself, I experimented with pizza a lot. Over time I realized that I always enjoy New York style pizza from a pizzeria better than when I make it myself, but nothing beats a bready square slice of homestyle pizza to make me feel relaxed and take me back to my childhood.

Homestyle pizza with shaved brussels sprouts and capicola | Brooklyn Homemaker
Since then my tastes have changed a bit, and while I sill love my grandmother’s pizza, I do things quite a bit differently from the way she does. I prefer a whole wheat crust now. Since the pizza is so much like focaccia I go all out and make it as bready as possible. The toppings usually change but I always load the pizza with fresh veggies and freshly grated mozzarella. One of my favorite things to do is to slice cherry or grape tomatoes in half lengthwise and put them, cut side up, on top of everything else before sending the pizza to the oven. The tomatoes get slightly browned and caramelized and go soft and warm in the middle. There’s just something about that that gets me going.

Homestyle pizza with shaved brussels sprouts and capicola | Brooklyn Homemaker

This particular pizza was inspired by a pizza I had a Roberta’s in Bushwick a few years ago. Their pizza was thin, crispy, and charred on the bottom, with shaved Brussels sprouts and a German cured ham called Speck. I kept the shaved Brussels sprouts but subbed the Speck for Capicola. Prosciutto works great here too. I’ve also added my cherry tomatoes, some thinly sliced red onion for spice, and make an easy garlic butter and oil spread instead of red sauce.

Homestyle pizza with shaved brussels sprouts and capicola | Brooklyn Homemaker

Home Style Pizza with Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Capicola

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough: (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 packets active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
2 cups whole-wheat flour

Garlic Butter and Oil Spread:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Toppings:
1/2 a pint of grape tomatoes cut in half lengthwise
1 very small red onion cut into very thin strips
5 or 6  large Brussels sprouts, shaved (I like to cut the bottoms off and shave them on a mandolin)
12 oz of grated mozzarella cheese
2 to 3 oz of thinly sliced capicola or prosciutto, torn into small strips

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:
Place water in a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Brush another large bowl with oil.

In bowl with yeast, whisk sugar, oil, and salt. Stir in flours with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to oiled bowl; brush top of dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour. The dough can be divided into two balls for a thin crust pizza, or will make one homestyle pizza. The dough also freezes well. Use the time while the dough is rising to make your garlic spread and get your toppings ready.

Preheat oven to 450° F. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until smooth, about 15 or 20 seconds. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle a 17×11 jelly roll pan with corn meal or flour and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan. Press the pizza into the edges to form a thin crust around the outside of the pizza.

Garlic Butter and Oil Spread:
In a small bowl melt butter in microwave with olive oil. Finely mince or crush the garlic and mix into the warm butter and oil mixture with all remaining ingredients. I try to make this while the pizza dough is rising, or at least 20 minutes or so ahead so that the oil can take on all the other flavors.

Assemble the pizza:
Brush the dough with the garlic oil spread, leaving the edge of the crust dry. Sprinkle about 3/4 of the cheese over the pizza, evenly layer the remaining toppings, and finish with the last of the cheese. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and the cheese and toppings are just beginning to brown. With a spatula, carefully slide the pizza out of the pan onto a cutting board and divide into 12 slices.