Brussels sprouts are a polarizing vegetable. It seems people either love them or they hate them. Admittedly, I played on the latter team until now. The latest rage in vegetable preparation, shaving raw vegetables so thinly that even the toughest and most bitter of the pack are desirable, made me like brussels sprouts. Inspired by a few notable foodists, I tried the technique on brussels sprouts and then dressed them with flavor enhancers like lemon juice, nutty cheese flakes, and bacon morsels. The method is easy and the result satisfying. Why all the trouble to eat brussels sprouts? They are members of the exclusive and almighty cruciferous family of vegetables:cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and bok choy.
According to medical professionals, we should have one serving of a cruciferous vegetables each day. My ancient nutritionist insisted that I follow this practice to reap their powerful and unique antioxidant properties that in addition to being shown to help protect against many cancers, also keep the brain sharp. A 25-year study by Harvard Medical School found that the antioxidants in cruciferous vegetables helped women retain memory longer through the years.
Don’t know about you, but I find it challenging to work these vegetables into my diet. Beyond broccoli, maybe the easiest of the cruciferous, I keep raw cauliflower on hand, dipping it in everything from mustard to salad dressing, and then I watch it turn from milky white to brownish before I finish the pack. When I saw Amanda Hesser, recent James Beard Award winner for her NY Times Essential Cookbook, demonstrating shaving raw vegetables into salads, I gave it a whirl. This is the way to go for the cruciferous you don’t love and frankly any for strong vegetable, plus it’s a delicious way to eat raw vegetables in the warm months.
Shaving is best achieved using a mandoline, but you can use a chef’s knife for a somewhat similar effect. Mandolines are inexpensive and an effective tool for slicing potatoes, carrots and of course shaving vegetables.
When shredded, brussels sprouts will absorb any dressing, but we like a lemon based dressing best to balance the pungency of the vegetable.
Try shaving other raw vegetables too. Zucchini, mushrooms, celery, carrots, asparagus, and more all benefit from a close shave.
the art of the cruciferous shave
preptime: 20 minutes 2 servings
5-6 raw brussels sprouts heads, cleaned
1/4 c grated pecorino cheese
1 strip of thick bacon, cooked and cut into pieces
2 T lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon agave syrup (or sugar)
1/2 cup olive oil
- Shave brussels sprouts using the thinnest setting on a mandoline. You can use a food processor with the slicing blade, but the slices will be thicker.
- Prepare vinaigrette: whisk lemon juice, shallot, mustard, lemon peel and agave syrup. Whisk in olive oil in steady stream.
- Add bacon and cheese to brussels sprouts shavings.
- Toss with vinaigrette. Let rest for 10 minutes to absorb dressing.
recipe provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com