Every time I open up one of Alex Guarnascelli’s cookbooks I need to grab a little pack of post-its because I want to make dozens of the recipes within. As a cookbook author, and more relevantly as a cookbook and recipe editor in previous years, I am all too aware of the fact that many people say that they only use a few recipes in any given cookbook. As an author I work hard to make sure that’s not the case. And in the case of Alex Guarnaschelli, that is SURELY not the case.
I am a Brussels sprouts devotee, and when I saw the title of the recipe there was no doubt in my mind that this would be the first entry into Alex’s book The Home Cook. This recipe is indicative of what is so terrific about her cooking. She plays with flavors everyone likes, but gives them another layer of depth and sophistication, and then layers on some bright notes. I love her food.
She prefaces this recipe by writing “One of my favorite ingredient combinations is Brussels sprouts and bacon.” (pause: yes, Alex, we are all with you). “To me, fried Brussels sprouts taste like nori seaweed, full of umami. The soy sauce in the vinaigrette here adds a deep salty note alongside the bacon without taking away from our star veggie. Most of this can be prepared in advance and then tossed together at the last minute.”
I am also a fan of using soy sauce as a seasoning in recipes that aren’t intrinsically Asian, and in playing with her recipe I actually doubled the amount she suggested. The other small change I made with to sauté the Brussels sprout leaves in just a bit of oil, vs. deep frying them. I felt like I got a pretty similar result, and in my kitchen deep frying is saved for rare occasions and more substantial food, like fried calamari.
I’d like to try it her way though, preferably at her house. I also loved the way she used a bit of the fat from cooking the bacon in the vinaigrette. Kind of a Southern thing, but useful anywhere, any time. And I love using whole parsley leaves in dishes of all kind, and letting it stand up as an herb, not just a garnish.
I also added a touch of hot sauce, harissa in the is case, but you can use whatever you want, because I was in the mood for a little jolt of heat.
This is adapted from Alex’s version.
More Brussels Sprouts Salads:
- Brussels Sprouts Three Ways
- Pickled Brussels Sprouts
- Brussels Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Slaw Salad
- Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts Slaw
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Salad
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts
- 6 ounces thick cut bacon cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon harissa sauce or other hot sauce or to taste
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 medium shallots minced
- ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ¼ cup small to medium fresh mint leaves roughly torn
- ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Cook the bacon: Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the bacon until it becomes crispy, about 12 minutes, turning to cook it evenly. Drain on paper towels, reserving the fat in the pan.
- While the bacon is cooking, prepare the Brussels sprouts: Remove and discard any damaged leaves. Then peel away the outer layer from each Brussels sprouts to yield a total of 3 cups leaves. Set those leaves aside. Thinly slice the remaining core pieces of the Brussels sprouts, and set them aside separately.
- Make the Vinaigrette: In a large bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat with the olive oil, soy sauce, harissa and lemon juice. Stir in the shallots.
- Cook the Brussels Sprout Leaves: Line a surface or plate with paper towels. Pour off any remaining bacon fat from the skillet and in the same skillet heat the vegetable or canola oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the leaves, carefully – the may splutter when they heat the oil, and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes until crispy, stirring often. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to the paper towels, and lightly season them immediately with salt.
- Assemble the salad: Add the thinly sliced raw Brussels sprouts into the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss with the mint and the parsley. Add the bacon and the warm crispy Brussels sprouts leaves, toss again and serve immediately.
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