I’d like to start this out by saying that I have never been a fan of raw brussels sprouts salads. My favorite way to cook brussels sprouts is to roast them in the oven, when they become hot and crispy like a guiltless french fry. I’ve had raw brussels sprouts salads before, but for some reason they never really had any…umph. Any hutzpah. It was mostly just a plate of shaved sprouts, dry from the lack of any dressing, dotted with a few uninspired, dried cranberries. Tart described both the salad and my mood after eating it. But then I made this. Oh, baby. I made this glorious, magical, raw thing.
I’ll admit it, much of the reason why I decided to make this salad was because I had about 62 tons of quail eggs leftover from my spiced cauliflower dish, and needed to figure out a way to use them before they went to waste. Thankfully, my good friend Professor Ottolenghi has more than one recipe requiring these delicate little eggs, and a journey into raw brussels sprouts and mushrooms began. I thought it was going to be a long, arduous hike.
I came across a kitchen supply store that is pretty close to my house, geeked out, and bought a mandoline. I don’t actually feel that badly about buying it because now I can make all sorts of lovely, thinly sliced things. Like potato chips, and such.You know, the bare necessities, the simply bare necessities. If not for me, than at least some other lucky soul.
I used the mandoline to thinly slice the brussels sprouts, but if you don’t have one, feel free to use your Edward Scissorhands-style knife skills and just thinly slice them.
The next step is to roast the mushrooms for 15 minutes at 375. You are TECHNICALLY supposed to use oyster mushrooms but (whoop-dee-doo, thanks for nothing Whole Foods) I used shiitake, and it turned out just fine. You could probably use any sliced mushroom you would like, I would just stay away from things like button mushrooms, which I humbly believe have about as much flavor as my gym socks.
The dressing for the salad is the perfect balance of tart and sweet with the addition of red wine vinegar and maple syrup. I’ll tell you the same thing I told my dear followers on Snapchat. I politely informed them (and by politely I mean, practically enacted a shakedown) to only use actual maple syrup for the dressing. Don’t run off and buy Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworths or any “syrup” that has a prefix (I suppose if I had my own brand of syrup I would name ‘The Esq. Mathis Fanciful Pancake Topping’), for this dish. Do us both a favor, just don’t use it.
Next, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in these dandies, and cook them for two minutes. They will come out soft and fluffy and sort of perfect.
The result is not only a dish that is compelling from a flavor standpoint, but a textural one as well. Flavor wise, it is truly beautiful. The mushrooms were earthy and rich, which was counterbalanced by the sweet-tart of the dressing and the silky egg. The texture of the brussels sprouts remained crunchy, which was offset by the tender textures of the rest of the ingredients.
I was almost tempted to add chicken or some sort of protein to make it more substantial, but the protein from the egg and mushrooms made it perfect for me. Although, if you have an appetite other than that of a bluebird, you could certainly add protein to make it a larger entrée.
So, Nopi has officially changed my mind about raw brussels sprouts salads. I’ve converted, people, and I’m not happy about it. Well, maybe I am. I’ve been wrong about things once or twice, and I certainly was about hating raw brussels sprouts.