Everyone, get excited, because today I'm sharing a recipe for salad! With raw brussels sprouts! There is a little bit of mockery here but the salad is really good and it proves, again, that raw vegetables have their place on a table not only during the summer.
But first, to build up the suspense, let me share some pictures that Moni and I took last weekend when we went to Nice - I can't tell who was behind the lense when. We had a great time - it was still February yet I could walk around with just a sweater on, we had dinner on the beach (pizza, of course, but we didn't realize our/Italian meals schedule assumes late eating times and all the restaurants were closed by the time we got hungry) we went to a market and spent a small fortune on plants (one of them is used as an ingredient in the before-mentioned salad) which I hope will stay with us for some time but that is not very likely. We also had tons of bread, of course, and I even brought back two loaves and a baguette.
The only thing today's recipe has to do with Nice/salade nicoise is that they are both a salad. Other things from this week that this salad does not include are: the eerie-ness of FKA twigs (LP1 on repeat again and went to her concert on Saturday!), all the French bread that stayed perfectly edible for a good couple of days, alcohol because there were things to celebrate, ice cream because it's finally sunny, and tiredness to the extent of light-headedness after a bit too long shift.
It does, however, bring together a couple of sources of inspiration: a recipe for potato salad from Anna Jones, a discussion on brussels sprouts by Nigel Slater's Tender and another one by T. Susan Chang, a salad that they make at TOM, that new plant - lemon thyme - sitting on my kitchen table, and, as is often the case with my chopped salads, the not-their-best bits of produce which I cram in the crisper all week long and usually use the next day, but this week the kitchen was super unattractive to me. Good thing fennels, apples and leeks keep for a long, long time.
I hardly ever buy brussels sprouts, they are very easy to miss in my supermarket, sitting on the refrigerated shelf between red cabbage and pumpkin, but every time I open a pack, a rush of adrenaline goes through my body. Their horrible reputation and the fact that it's the only vegetable my mom doesn't like always make me feel like I have something ahead of me to discover. For some, It's just a way to make those minute cabbages edible, but for me, it's like going to places for which there are no maps. Which isn't all that true because I just quoted two sources that elaborate on the possibilities of brussels sprouts, but I will always choose to feel excited if I can. I find that it's the smell those brassicas release during cooking is the main problem for eaters - here, they are kept raw, sliced finely and marinated in the dressing for a bit, so that the final outcome is quite tender. Another great thing about this salad - and using a strudy green - is that you can make a big bowl and eat for a couple (2?) days.
Brussels Sprouts, Fennel, Apple and Potato Salad with Leeks and Lemon Thyme
(makes 2-4 servigs)
200g brussels sprouts
1 tbsp neutral oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 fennel bulb
1 large leek
4 small potatoes, 1 cup cubed
2 small celery stalks
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp grainy mustard
1 tbsp agave syrup
1 tsp dried lemon thyme
or: thyme, tarragon, mint, dill
1 tbsp walnut oil
salt, black pepper
Start by preparing the base for the salad: finely slice the brussels sprouts, tossing the stalks/white parts away.
Combine all the ingredients for dressing and add to the sliced cabbage, then use your hands and cover everything evenly, also breaking the leaves apart at the same time. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
Peel and cube the potatoes, cook in salted water for 10 minutes until just soft enough for a fork to pierce through. I like to cover potatoes with cold water and bring everything to the boil as opposed to adding cubes to a steaming pot - this helps retain shape. Drain, place in a bowl of cold water for a couple of minutes, then drain again.
Cut a couple of fennel slices off the sides of the quarter of a bulb, set aside. Heat up the oil. Finely slice the rest + the leek. Add to the pan, sprinkle with sugar and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes until very soft, mushy and caramelized.
Finely slice the stalks of celery and add to the brussels sprouts along with the caramelized leek and fennel. Use your hands to combine everything - the cooked vegetables will be sort of sticky.
Chop the apple into matchsticks, set aside.
To serve, lay out the brussels sprouts base on a plate, then add potatoes, scatter the reserved fennel slices and apple matchsticks on top, sprinkle with extra thyme and pepper and an extra squeeze of lemon.
Will keep well in the fridge for two days.
You might also be interested in those: