There’s been some debate about whether or not you should serve salad at Thanksgiving.
My stance? A traditional salad — with wan lettuce leaves from a bag, dried cranberries (the most clichéd Thanksgiving salad ingredient), and toasted pecans — is a pretty depressing thing to see on the table, TBH. But, as I get older, my body does crave some kind of crunchy vegetable situation if I’m going to eat a lot of heavy food (turkey, stuffing, gravy, etc). So what’s a Thanksgiving chef to do? Enter the shaved Brussels sprout salad.
Okay, this idea is nothing new. Smitten Kitchen told you about it; so has Jody Williams in the NYT. Speaking of the New York Times, I had Melissa Clark on my Instagram Live on Friday and I asked her what I could do with the Brussels sprouts in my fridge besides roast them, and she said: “Shave them and make a salad.” So this salad was simply meant to be.
Here’s the wonderful thing about this salad, especially for Thanksgiving: it’s super easy to make with a food processor. Simply set up your slicing disc, cut the stems off the Brussels sprouts, and whir away. The whole thing takes five minutes.
Once you have that, you get to play. I put them in a big bowl and immediately added lemon juice, really good olive oil (Séka Hills), salt, pepper, a dab of mustard, and a drizzle of local honey. I also toasted some whole almonds and chopped them next to the local honey for this charming picture.
Looking in my fruit bowl, I saw pears and apples; I decided to go for the pears. I tossed everything through and tasted, then adjusted with some white Balsamic vinegar, more salt, and pepper.
But I wasn’t done. In went some raisins and lots of Parmesan cheese (I buy the store-grated stuff; not the kind from the can, but freshly grated in the cheese section).
Once that’s all tossed together, you taste and adjust one more time.
On Saturday night, I served this with some leftover chicken, some spreads I picked up from Gjusta, along with some bread I also got there. But this salad was definitely the star.
And the best part? We had it again the next day with brunch — a toasted bialy with cream cheese, smoked trout, and caper tapenade, if you must know — and the salad tasted even better.
Which is great news for your Thanksgiving: you can make this salad on Wednesday afternoon and it’ll be even better on Thursday (it definitely helps to soften the Brussels sprouts).
So as you contemplate a salad this Thanksgiving, don’t look to the lettuce drawer; look to those Brussels sprouts. They’re ready to step up and really add some pizzazz to your Thanksgiving table.
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pears, Toasted Almonds, and Parmesan
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, stems removed
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, plus more to adjust
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- White Balsamic vinegar (optional)
- 3/4 cup whole almonds, toasted, then chopped Toss them in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant and brown in spots.
- 1 to 2 pears, thinly sliced I used a pineapple pear from the farmer’s market.
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup ground aged Parmesan
Start by shredding the Brussels sprouts in the food processor. Using the shredding attachment, drop them through the tube, and press down until they’re all shredded. Wasn’t that easy?
In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper until emulsified. Add the Brussels sprouts and toss all around and taste, taste, taste. If it needs more acid, add a splash of white Balsamic (or rice vinegar or white wine vinegar) for a rounder acidity. If it needs more salt, add more salt, etc.
Add the almonds, pears, raisins, and Parmesan and toss all around and taste again. Eat right away or allow to mellow overnight in the fridge. (You may need to enliven it with more salt and vinegar right before you serve it).