When I’m sitting on an airplane reading my stash of cooking magazines (because that is where I end up reading all of them- true story), I’m totally nodding my head and making ‘mmmm’ noises at the recipes that feature bitter greens. This is two things: (a) totally annoying because who wants to be sitting next to that girl (except my husband, and even that is debatable when he sees me pull a Bon Appetit out of my carry-on), and (b) a complete sham because while I want the world to think I am so in love with this hot hot hot trend for raw raw raw bitter greens, for every ‘mmmm’ that comes out of my mouth, my brain is thinking ‘le GAG.’
Here is what I don’t get: you take a wonderful, gorgeous meal, and add arugula/kale/Brussels sprouts/take-your-pick-green to add a ‘peppery bite’ or a ‘crunchy bitterness.’ Uhhhhhh, can’t we just add pepper? And in the case of adding ‘crunchy bitterness,’ can’t we just… not? Is bitter food desirable to any human ever? My dog doesn’t even recognize bitter as an acceptable taste, and she licks the inside of the garbage can every chance she gets. Bitter is just simply not okay.
Now I’m not saying I don’t love pungent veggies. Give me your kale, your most cruciferous cauli, your broccoli. I will eat those ALL DAY. It just has to be prepared right (according to me). Roast it. Put brown butter on it. Incorporate bacon in some way. And if it’s in a salad, take a tip from Beyonce: put some dressing on it. Or something like that.
Because I’m either a glutton for punishment or I am on a lifelong quest to make veggies taste amazing (or both), I tested out this raw Brussels sprout salad. Full disclosure: it was the walnuts + pecorino + honey part that hooked me first. I was impressed that the Brussels sprouts were shaved because the one thing any quasi-palatable raw, bitter green salad can have going for it is the size of the pieces. Small size = maximum dressing coating. And speaking of dressing, there has to be enough. Dry salad is a cardinal sin in and of itself, but dry bitter greens? Again, to quote Beyonce: No, No, No.
Verdict? This salad was totally rad. It was really easy to throw together, there was enough flavor from the lemon + toasty walnuts + pecorino + seasonings + honey to combat that bitter sulphur taste les choux de Bruxelle possess. Bonus: despite receiving a very generous dousing of lemon vinaigrette, it stays crisp in your fridge for a few days, so it’s perfect for the new trend of packing brown-bag lunch items that are neither Hot Pockets nor PB&J. And can we talk about how it’s a trendy raw veggie salad you will actually look forward to eating? Instead of pretending to love it but secretly wishing you were eating a big, fat slice of pie?
If you want to stand up for the practice of making bitter veggies that actually taste good, or you want to sneak one more Brussels sprout recipe under the wire before winter weather leaves the party for real, or maybe you just like the idea of walnuts + pecorino + honey (no shame!), this salad is totally calling your name.
- 1½ lbs Brussels sprouts, thinly shaved (I used the slicing attachment for the food processor)
- 1 heaping cup walnuts, toasted
- 2 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- Honey, for drizzling
- Toss Brussels sprouts, walnuts, and cheese in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Add the dressing to the salad and toss to combine well. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes for the flavors to meld and be absorbed by the sprouts. Serve with a drizzle of honey on top of each portion.