This may not be the most photogenic salad in the Burgh. As salads go, it's pretty plain Jane in the glamour department. Looks kinda like coleslaw, right? Not so fast...it's far more than what it appears. This is one of those "pretty is as pretty does salads" and this one DOES!
Let me be the first to enlighten you to the delights of the Brussels Sprout Salad of Stagioni's fame, because this dish is a recreation of the one found on their menu. (Yep...THE Stagioni's in the South Side, right there on Carson Street and smack dab next to Acacia.) I have waxed poetic about the glories of the Brussels Sprout Salad at Stagioni's to friends, family and strangers near and far. Without a doubt it's the most amazingly surprisingly delicious salad in town...although it looks like a common, ordinary slaw, it's so much more than meets the eye. Your everyday slaw it ain't!
Now that we've established what it isn't, let's discuss what it IS. It's the simply the best of the best of just a few fresh ingredients tossed with a straightforward vinaigrette composed of a few more basic - but certainly not average - components. Shaved, crisp and lacy sprouts, salty Pecorino Romano, bits of sweet Medjool dates, crunchy toasted hazelnuts and a dressing of browned butter and damned good sherry vinegar.
What's the difference between average and outstanding ingredients? Pick sprouts that are tiny and sweet, choose the most exquisite sherry vinegar you can find - in this case I used a fine Spanish sherry vinegar called Veleta that I ordered from my favorite online gourmet spot, Gourmet Delights, select an excellent imported Pecorino Romano from your local cheese store and find yourself the freshest hazelnuts you can get your hands on. The best of the best..that's the difference!
Once everything is shaved, toasted, browned, diced and mixed, it's more than you ever imagined it could be. So what if it isn't the prettiest salad on the block....it's the most delicious one in your tummy. And that's what matters!
Brussels Sprouts Salad
With Pecorino, Dates & Hazelnuts
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed, sliced very thinly on a mandoline
- 1/2 c. Pecorino Romano, shaved
- 1/4 c. Medjool dates, pitted and diced
- 1/3 c. hazelnuts, toasted and skins mostly rubbed off in a kitchen towel
- 3 T. butter, browned - NOT burned
- 1/3 c. GOOD sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 t. Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 t. sugar
Toss the shaved sprouts, cheese, dates and hazelnuts in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the browned butter, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar well.
Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, toss well. Serve.
Stand back and wait for compliments!
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