Searing brussels sprouts, and discovering what all the fuss is about
After discovering brussels sprouts were not just edible but could be a desirable part of a meal, I started to hanker for more baconless brussels experiences that would be just as transformative. Each week I tried them slightly different ways, but this salad is where I struck gold, and discovered the awesomeness of pan seared brussels. As it turned out, searing somehow made the sprouts much nuttier and less bitter than roasting. They also took on that gorgeous nutty moreish flavour that perfectly cooked broccoli gets. Add actual nuts, lightly toasted for further moreishness, and you have a moreish-splosion. Try that for a tongue twister.
The sweet tangy maple dijon dressing once again plays a star role, this time with the addition of eschallots for even more punch. Other than that you can pop in a range of other veges you might like, raw or seared with the sprouts. The basic formula here is seared brussels + maple dijon dressing + toasted nut of choice + some other colourful veg. If brussels are a little pricey, I’d imagine thin wedges of cabbage working pretty well in this too, or cauliflower or broccoli florets. Hell, even kale – especially the curly variety, with all its nooks and crannies for the dressing to shimmy into.
Seared brussels salad
serves 2 for a light dinner (with bread)
- two generous handfuls of brussels, quartered along the stem
- 1 carrot, cut into thick matchsticks
- other vege of choice (I used purple cabbage for colour)
- toasted nuts/seeds of choice (I used toasted slivered almonds, feel free to experiment)
Maple dijon dressing
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 Tbs maple syrup, runny honey or golden syrup
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses, lemon juice or a nice vinegar (not the white stuff)
- extra virgin olive oil or neutral cooking oil
- thumb sized piece of eschallot, finely chopped (slice the rest thickly and chuck into your searing sprouts when they’re almost done)
Whisk up all dressing ingredients or mix and bash in a mortar and pestle. Taste, adjust according to your preferences, and set aside to let flavours mingle.
Heat up a smidge of oil in a large frypan. Distribute brussels on a layer. Add other veges that you’re wanting cooked on top (unless using delicate veges, in which case add near the end, or leave raw). Cover and cook until the undersides of the brussels are deep brown. Add a splash of water to the pan and cover again, then turn off heat.
Once no longer unbearably hot, layer your salad ingredients, and then drizzle the whole plate with the dressing. Serve along some crusty toast with a generous spreading of hummus or butter.