Something amazing has happened with the LA food scene over the last ten years. We got one.
The economy took a dive and we all ate and cooked away our sorrows. From the ashes emerged young buck chefs who now make magic with organic produce, bring a multitude ethnic flavors to the table, and even lure us downtown. The downtown that’s more than twenty minutes away and where our sprawling suburban dwellers never dwelled, until now. Bäco Mercat is one of those special haunts where I was lucky enough to have a lunch with a good friend. We swooned over the Brussels sprouts Caesar salad which was about the best Caesar salad I ever ate and then go-figure it was made with Brussels sprouts, the vegetable that needs a whole lot of charring and sweetening to make most people happy.
I spent the next few days trying to figure out the right recipe and thanks to a few online resources, I believe we have it. This ode to fall harvest and summer salads seems just about right in October. It has all of the do-ahead potential for family feasts and weeknight dinners.
warm brussels sprouts caesar salad
Prep time is contingent on how much you have and how deep you’re willing to go. We’re providing the more elaborate preparation – homemade dressing, quick pickled onions, pecorino cheese – as well as crunchtime options, below. The easiest method will work out just fine, but the all-in recipes will reward you in flavor and leave you with a few prepared foods you can use for other meals. I recommend investing in neutral tasting oils for dressings, grapeseed or canola, to avoid harsh flavors (olive oil) that can overpower flavors of the other ingredients. Also, pecorino cheese is not essential, but the flavor has more bite than parmesan and will thus stand up to Brussels sprouts with more vigor.
easy preptime: 10 min serves 4 (as side)
all-in preptime: 30 min
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts
- 1 egg, soft cooked* see instructions below
- large garlic clove
- 1 tsp anchovy paste or 4 anchovies
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp mustard (grainy or Dijon)
- 1/2 cup grapeseed or canola oil (olive oil fine, but you will taste it)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup pecorino cheese grated (parmesan will work, but don’t tell me)
- 3 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2-3 Tbsp pickled onions, recipe below
- Trim off a few outer leaves of each sprout and cut off gnarly end. Thinly slices sprouts. Easiest method is to toss them into a food processor fitted with a slicing blade – vroom and done. Next easy method is a mandoline, my choice, because clean up occurs in the dishwasher. Finally, by hand, still easy, but you might need some groovy music to keep you going.
- For dressing (skip this if you’re using bottled dressing, but, don’t tell me), let’s start with the *egg. Caesar’s dressing is typically made with raw eggs, but we’re cooking this egg a bit without losing richness or emulsifying ability. To soft boil an egg: boil water, drop in egg, set timer for 5 minutes during which you’ll prepare a small bowl of ice water. When the time goes off, transfer the egg from the boiling water to the ice water to stop the cooking. Set aside. Note: peel the egg over your mixing bowl to catch the runny yolk, using caution to keep the shell pieces from falling in. It’s not quite the nightmare it seems.
- In a small food processor (I used an immersion stick), process garlic, then add anchovies, cooked egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and mustard and blend.
- Slowly drizzle in oil, letting it emulsify as you go. Set aside dressing.
- In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add in sliced Brussels Sprouts. Turn occasionally, salt a bit. You want some caramelization and for cooking to take out bitterness, but still firm enough to be a salad. 3-4 minutes. Test.
- Remove the sprouts from the pan to a serving bowl and let cool until it’s nicely warmed.
- Add dressing, perhaps not all at first, to test out coverage.
- Add grated cheese and radish slices, lightly toss.
- Top with pickled onions and serve.
- Use bottled dressing
- Eliminate pickled onions
- If you choose to make the dressing, use pre-chopped garlic, don’t cook the egg.
Pickled Red Onions
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- Put all of the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil, covered.
- Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, ensuring that the onions are fairly submerged.
- Remove pan from heat and let cool.
- When cooled, using a tongs remove the onions to a mason jar or other glass jar. Cover with enough of the cooking liquid.
- Refrigerate. Will last for a couple of weeks.