Raw Brussels Sprout Salad with Parmesan and Toasted Walnuts

I originally posted this recipe in 2011 when Brussels sprouts were just emerging on the scene as people discovered new preparation possibilities. At that time I felt like a “Brussels-sprout-evangelist,” spreading the good news of how fantastic Brussels sprouts could be if prepared thoughtfully. In the past, Brussels sprouts were associated with over-boiling and sadness. In the last decade they’ve become really popular, often grilled or roasted with bright sauces.

This raw salad recipe goes in a fresh direction. It’s surprising how nutty and delicate the raw leaves can be.

The Austrian chef at Johannes in Palm Springs might have invented the Brussels sprout salad.  He peeled off the outer dark leaves (reserving them for other recipes like soups), and separated the individual inner layers of leaves for this salad. He tossed the pale delicate inner leaves into a simple salad with toasted walnuts, Parmesan, and a light vinaigrette. 

In recent years, markets have started selling bags of shredded Brussels sprouts, and other recipes will instruct you to quickly shred them with a knife for salads or stir fries. Shredding works in a pinch, but if you take the time to individually peel off the leaves, the texture is worlds better than the shredded texture. It’s become one of my favorite salads, and I especially enjoy the simple but complementary nuttiness of the Parmesan and toasted walnuts. 

The recipe I’ve written out has flexible amounts, since most salads are intrinsically flexible.  I use my favorite simple French salad dressing from My French Kitchen by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde.  This amount of dressing will make more than what you need for the amount of salad as written, but the remaining dressing will keep for a week or so in the fridge.

RAW BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD WITH SHAVED PARMESAN AND TOASTED WALNUTS

about 3 cups brussels sprouts

handful of walnuts

parmesan for shaving

Simple French Dressing:

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons good mustard (grainy or smooth, or 1 teaspoon of each)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and black pepper to taste

METHOD:

Rinse the brussels sprouts in a colander.  Trim off the stems with a paring knife.  Peel off and discard a few of the darker outer leaves from each brussels sprout.  Use the remaining inner leaves for the salad, peeling them off one by one.  This can be a little tedious.  Because the leaves are wrapped tightly around the sphere of the sprout, I have found it easier to remove them if I cut the sprout in half length-wise, before peeling off the leaves. 

Make the salad dressing by combining the ingredients in a small jar, and shaking it for about 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at 300F.  I tend to toast my walnuts until they’re fairly dark because the nutty flavor intensifies.  When toasted, roughly chop the walnuts and scatter them over the brussels sprout leaves.  Shave the parmesan on top.

Pour some of the dressing over the salad and toss. 

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