No burying the lead in this post, folks: I’m nuts about this Brussels sprouts salad. I want to tell you I almost cried when I tasted it, but then I’d have to tell you how my brother almost rolls his eyes whenever he hears me say that. “Yeah, that tortilla soup you posted is good,” he told me a few months ago after he’d read about it here and then tested it at home, “but it’s not like I cried about it.”
My brother thinks he’s very funny.
I saw that brother—and my mom and my dad, and my in-laws, and Tim’s cousins, and his aunt, and his sister and her family, and his sweet grandma Emily, and my dear friend Jacqui—last weekend, in the midst of an epic few days in which Tim and his brother, Nathan, and I drove five hours to Ohio and five hours to Chicago before Nathan flew back and Tim and I drove eight hours home. We left Friday and came back Tuesday and, writing this now, I almost can’t remember what day it is, let alone where I’m sitting as I type. But before we left, inspired by versions of this I’ve seen everywhere from Shutterbean to Gluten-Free Girl to Instagram, I made this shredded Brussels sprouts salad.
I told my parents and Adam about this salad in the corner restaurant where we ate in downtown Glen Ellyn last Sunday. Tim was at the Cubs-Reds game. My parents were meeting me and Adam there. While we waited for them, we strolled historic Main Street in the sunny, gorgeous 70-something degrees. I admired Rifle Paper Co. journals in a gift shop. Adam walked me across the train tracks to the local thrift store (but it was closed). We caught a quick glimpse of my beloved Honey Café. And along the way, I saw a new pizza place and leaned towards the windows, cupping my hands around the glass for a better view inside.
“It’s not open during the day,” a white-haired man called out to me, coming closer as he did.
“Oh, I saw that,” I responded, catching Adam’s eye in the way you do with a sibling who, trained through decades of shared life experience, will understand with you when a situation is strange. “I was just looking in the windows to check it out.”
“Do you like those white streaks in the sky?” he was pointing to the clear blue above us now, directing my eyes towards what seemed to be jet fuel lines.
“Oh, sure,” I said as my gaze followed his arm. Not sure what he was getting at, I offered a “Well, it is really such a beautiful day.”
“That’s your government at work!” he responded, frustrated, mumbling, but now shuffling away. “Ruining the sky!” he called out as he left.
I turned the other way with Adam, and, inside the restaurant, we met my parents, who ordered beef brisket sandwiches with Adam’s grilled cheese and my market plate (kale salad, Southwestern quinoa, sesame roasted carrots and zucchini). From a large, window-front table so big I’d have to stretch to reach across, we ate as the four of us, in a way we haven’t done since Nashville entered the scene. I told them about the white-haired man. We laughed about how strangers always talk to me. Then, something came up about Brussels sprouts, and I took the bait.
“Mom, you wouldn’t believe it. Brussels sprouts in salad: it’s amazing! You shred them in the food processor and combine them with a dressing and roasted nuts and dates. It’s incredible. It’s like a whole new level. They’re so good, I’m not kidding, when I tasted them, I almost cried.”
Cue Adam: “I’ve heard you say that before.”
Let me just tell you, this salad is incredible. By shredding the raw Brussels sprouts, you break down their hearty, fibrous bodies into what feels more like cabbage or lettuce. And when you combine those shredded pieces with a lemony oil dressing that soaks in and softens them just a tad, the only thing better is having them with the toasted walnuts and dates placed on top.
I’m not saying these shredded Brussels sprouts will make you cry—I’m saying they’re good enough to, and so, for your own good, you’ve got to try them, soon.
Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Dates
Makes around four hefty servings
You’ll note in the directions that I added the dates at the end; that’s because I only decided to add them at all at the last minute. Good decision—the sweet chewiness adds another layer of texture and flavor to the salad. Of course, I’m sure it’d be fine to throw them in with walnuts and Brussels sprouts at the beginning, but, because I liked this version so much, I’m leaving all the directions as is.
1 pound Brussels sprouts
4 ounces (or what should measure a cup) walnuts
12 dates, pitted
for the dressing:
Juice of a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp Dijon (or up to 1tsp)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
Wash the Brussels sprouts and trim off their woody ends. Pulse in food processor until evenly shredded throughout. Place in bowl.
Toast walnuts in skillet on the stove for about four or five minutes, until darkened and fragrant.
Meanwhile make dressing: whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon, apple cider vinegar. It should come together into a nice dressing consistency.
Chop roasted walnuts in food processor (no need to wash it out from the Brussels sprouts), pulsing two or three times until small. Add to Brussels sprouts in bowl. Pour dressing on top; toss; salt and pepper to taste.
For the final touch: chop the dates in food processor (again, no need to wash it), pulsing until small, and add them to bowl and toss.