Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples and Roasted Chestnuts
I know there was a time when I didn’t like brussel sprouts, and I wish I could go back in time and let my younger self know just what I was missing out on. My appreciation of these delectable morsels began with a roasted vegetable salad from Zinc Cafe, a long-time foodie spot in Laguna Beach. Ever since, I’ve firmly believed that the ultimate brussel sprout preparation was roasting. Whether dressed simply in olive oil and salt, or as part of a concoction with bacon, walnuts, and blue cheese- why mess with perfection?
As I was searching for the perfect dish to bring to my Thanksgiving potluck, I came across this recipe. Raw brussel sprouts? Really? But as I read through the recipe description, I began to warm to the notion. And let me tell you, this recipe doesn’t disappoint. Need proof? Out of the 30-ish dishes at this potluck, mine was the only salad to end the meal as dregs on the sides of the serving bowl.
Of course, I made a few tweaks. One I highly recommend is switching out the hazelnuts for fresh roasted chestnuts. Yes, it takes more time, but they give the salad a wonderfully earthy flavor.
And, before trying this recipe, unless you have well-developed knife skills, I highly recommend investing in a mandolin. I used the closest thing I could find, a well-loved cheese slicer, but a mandolin would have sped up the prep time considerably and left me with far less sore hands.
Give this a try at your next autumnal or winter potluck.
16 oz fresh brussel sprouts
16 oz fresh Italian chestnuts
4 oz Toscano cheese (or other creamy cheese with a cheddar-like consistency, such as Gruyere)
up to 1 cup of grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil, such as canola or sunflower seed)
up to 1/2 cup lemon juice
up to 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
fresh grated pepper
1 large gala apple (or fuji, pink lady)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Using a sharp paring knife, score chestnuts, being sure to cut all the way through the tough exterior to reveal the fluff between the shell and nut meat. I found (carefully!) stabbing the chesnuts with the point of the knife, then slicing a small “X”, to be the most effective method.
Place chestnuts onto a baking sheet, then roast for 15 – 30 minutes until the shell splits as shown below.
Once chestnuts are just cool enough to handle, remove the shell and set aside. A word to the wise- if you can’t see the yellowish meat through the split in the shell, you will have a very difficult time fully peeling the chestnut. My advice is the peel off as much as you can and eat the meat you can. Don’t worry- you’ll still have plenty of chestnuts for the salad even after indulging in this chef’s treat.
Shave the brussel sprouts very thinly, using a mandolin or sharp knife. Cut and core the apple, then slice thinly (approximately 1/16th of an inch thick). Add to brussel sprouts.
After gauging the volume of shredded sprouts, mix the dressing: 2 parts grapeseed oil, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part white balsamic vinegar. You want just enough to cover the salad mixture. Whisk to emulsify the dressing, then add pepper and pour over the salad.
Thinly slice the chestnuts and cheese (1/8 inch thickness), set aside.
Just before serving, add chestnuts and cheese, toss.