I have to warn you, this brussels sprouts slaw is a bit ahead of season, but I can’t help it. I’m making up for all the years I abstained from eating these crunchy little cabbage heads. During countless dinners as a kid, I stared their slicked leaves down as I furiously tried to drown them with melted butter. I could barely take in their pungent locker room like stench, let alone eat them one by one, as if they were on a slow march to their finish.
But, that was twenty-odd years ago and since then, I’ve grown rather found of my former foe. My usual cooking method is to roast or braise brussels sprouts, until the other day, when I was brave enough to shred them raw. The inspiration came, after I came across a few pounds of brussels sprouts at the market, I stopped traffic. No one could muscle their way near the basket of freshly showered miniature cabbage heads, leaves glistening under small spotlights.
Once again I my eyes locked with the sprouts and this time, all I could think was how much I wanted to devour them. Simply dressed, but mostly raw. I did what I had to do. I stuffed them into a bag, marched to the checkout counter, and hurried home to make this summery slaw dressed with a shallot vinaigrette. It’s a last-minute dish, one you’ll want to make right before you leave for a picnic.
The secret to this slaw is to shred the brussels sprouts into thin ribbons with a knife or for a more delicate texture, with a mandoline. If you can’t find brussels sprouts or simply won’t eat them, substitute them with an equal amount of napa cabbage, prepared the same way.
Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Shallot Vinaigrette
Yield 4 to 6 servings
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
1 shallot, diced
4 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sunflower seeds, toasted (toast the sunflower seeds in a large skillet over medium heat (stirring occasionally) for 5 to 7 minutes or until the seeds are fragrant, remove from pan immediately)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
Shred the brussels sprouts with a knife or mandoline; set aside.
To prepare the shallot vinaigrette, combine the chopped shallot and vinegar in a large mixing bowl along with a pinch of salt; let the mixture to set for 15 minutes to sweeten the shallots. Whisk in the mustard, oil, and another pinch of salt and pepper.
Add the shredded brussels sprouts, toasted sunflower seeds, and chopped cranberries to the vinaigrette and toss gently. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary by adding more champagne vinegar, salt, or pepper. Serve within 20 minutes.