Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Dates

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.

Brussels Sprouts Salad

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.

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Sauteed (or Roasted) Brussels Sprouts with Red Chili Flakes

Brussels sprouts in the bowl

I think Brussels sprouts might be my favorite vegetable.

washing Brussels sprouts

It wasn’t love at first sight—these things seldom are—but you could say, I guess, it all started back in my days of visiting Nashville, amidst the excitement and unknowns of another budding relationship, when one Sunday night having dinner with friends, we poured leftover walnut-sage brown butter onto roasted Brussels sprouts and couldn’t believe how good it was.

Brussels sprouts on the cutting board

In truth, I shouldn’t have been at all surprised, having tasted the sweet caramelization of Brussels sprouts less than a year before, both at a restaurant and in my kitchen, but, as we sometimes do when we’re busy or distracted or just not tuned in, I’d managed to forgot all about it. The Nashville Brussels sprouts, thank goodness, made a more lasting impression, and my life’s seldom been without them since.

Brussels Sprouts

It’s funny how that works, you know? One day, Brussels sprouts—or say, that person you haven’t thought much of until now—does something impressive, and you think, Huh. I never noticed that before! And sometimes that’s enough to change your interactions ever after, to set on course a whole new path of life; other times, you forget and move on and have to be impressed all over again.

sauteed Brussels sprouts

For us, Brussels sprouts are that love that came softly, without our seeking it out or expecting it or planning for its entrance in our routines. Through gentle persistence, it’s become the vegetable often accompanying our Sunday night dinners, the favorite dinner on a weeknight, the thing we pick up from the produce department “as a treat.”

plate of roasted Brussels sprouts

Nowadays, we like our Brussels sprouts very simple—barely dressed, just sauteed or roasted enough to turn soft and golden, with crispy edges that crunch when you bite in. We cook them in coconut oil, with hefty dashes of salt and pepper, maybe with some red chili flakes thrown in—because, whereas before I thought little of this cabbage-like vegetable Rudy Huxtable pushed off her plate, today I celebrate it.

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Brussels sprouts & bacon, oh my!

Brussels sprouts

Today, I bring you a story that to me is pure embarrassment and laughter, but to you I hope will be encouragement. It is a post is for anyone who has ever done something stupid, not just in cooking but in life. It is for those who think they are incapable of cooking or baking, especially when you look at food blogs like this one. And, not only will it include a recipe, but also a tip on a great restaurant to check out next time you’re in Galena.

It is a story, yes, but it is also a reminder, mostly that when you make a very big mistake, you might as well laugh about it because, at the end of the day, even if you told nobody and got to hold your head a little higher, you’d still know the truth inside and then, you wouldn’t know the intimacy of being honest with people or hearing that they mess up sometimes too (yes, that is an invitation for you to share your stories), and that would be a great loss indeed. So here goes; when I say you’re going to love this one, I mean it.

And it all starts with Brussels sprouts.

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