My mom is probably going to fall off her chair when she sees that I voluntarily ate Brussels sprouts. You would too, if they looked like this.
We like going out to eat. There are two reasons for this: One, we like food, especially good food. Two, we seem to have a lot of our best, most meaningful conversations over restaurant meals. There’s just something, whether it’s the pauses between courses or the fact that we know someone else is doing all the work, that creates a thoughtful, fun atmosphere for us. We talk about so many more random and creative things when we’re at restaurants. The idea for this blog was conceived over dinner out, for instance.
Robby is an expert at finding places we’ve never been to, which means that we get the fun experience of trying new dishes. This salad is inspired by one we had at a local restaurant called Provisions & Buzz Co. I had never thought of a Caesar salad using Brussels sprouts, but let me tell you—it was amazing. The sprouts were quick-fried crispy, and the dressing and the cheese just melted in, with bits of crunchy pancetta on top. I have never eaten a large dish of Brussels sprouts so quickly.
Of course I tried to replicate the recipe at home. I fried my sprouts on the stove and totally smoked up the house and my sprouts absorbed a lot of oil without getting the right kind of crispy. So then I switched to roasting. Roasting is, to me, the secret to making vegetables taste good. I have never liked “green things,” but I’ll eat almost anything that’s roasted. Bonus: almost no oil!
The Caesar dressing is something I’m very proud of. The original recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, a fantastic blog. It turns out it’s really not hard to make your own salad dressing. Even better was tweaking this recipe repeatedly until it’s now Exactly The Way I Like It–creamy with lots of cheese and just the right amount of acid brightness from the lemon and mustard and garlic. Try it, then tweak it yourself. You really can’t go wrong.
One note on continuous whisking: I don’t know the chemical reasons for this, but the slow incorporation of the olive oil results in a nice uniform dressing. If you dump the oil in all at once, it will refuse to fully incorporate and will separate when you stop stirring, no matter how hard you whisk.
What about you? Is there a vegetable or other food that you would never eat as a kid but would happily devour now? Let me know in the comments!
In these proportions, this would be a perfect salad course. I like to double (or triple) this recipe and serve for dinner.
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 slices bacon or a couple of ounces of pancetta (optional)
Fresh Pecorino Romano and croutons for serving
2 tablespoons regular mayonnaise (or 1 egg)
½ teaspoon Dijon
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
1 garlic clove, minced
1 oil-packed anchovy fillet, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (feel free to start with less, as lemon juice can be intense)
¼ cup olive oil (if you want, you can seriously up the quality of the dressing by using a high-quality olive oil)
Freshly shredded pecorino Romano cheese
Ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prep the Brussels sprouts (wash, peel off any icky leaves, and cut off the bottoms). Halve or quarter any big ones. Place sprouts on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once.
If you’re using bacon or pancetta, chop up and fry crispy. Optional: save the grease and pour it over the sprouts later, or stir it into the dressing.
In a bowl or large measuring cup, stir or whisk together the first six ingredients. Whisking or stirring briskly, drizzle in the olive oil until combined.
Stir in cheese and pepper. Taste and adjust as necessary.
When the sprouts are done, toss quickly with the dressing so that it melts in. Serve warm with extra cheese, croutons (and optional bacon). Marvel at how good Brussels sprouts can taste.
You can also make the dressing in the food processor. Just drizzle the oil in while the processor is going.
If you have extra dressing, it should keep for a few days, covered in the fridge. Allow to come to room temperature and whisk before serving.