Shaved Brussels Sprout, Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Orange Ginger Dressing
If the thought of Brussels sprouts automatically engages your gag reflex or makes you want to run and hide in the nearest vacant room and stuff a towel under the door... I can relate. I have spent years (decades even) HATING Brussels sprouts because of how my mother and grandmothers prepared them. Fear not. Properly roasted, sauteed or steamed, they are surprisingly delicious! ~ or thinly sliced and not cooked at all, they are equally appetizing!
Here, fresh raw Brussels sprouts, pears, shallots, pomegranate arils, pecans and mint are dressed with a creamy Orange Ginger Cashew sauce for a beautiful winter slaw. This salad can be made in advance and adds bright flavors and colors to your table ~ light, crisp and delectable!
If you ever come across Brussels sprouts sold on the stalk - buy, buy, BUY! Sometimes you can sweet-talk your local farmer to reserve one or two for you, otherwise you might find them in grocery stores with an excellent produce department. On the stalk, Brussels sprouts will stay fresh and retain thier nutrients a lot longer. I treat them like I would a Christmas tree, cutting the bottom inch or so off the stalk and placing it upright in a wide-mouthed pitcher of water. If they won't fit in your refrigerator, store them in the coolest area of the kitchen or pantry away from direct light. Change the water each day or two and they should maintain freshness for more than a week.
Both Brussels sprouts and pomegranate arils are excellent sources of vitamins C and K, are good sources of several B vitamins, manganese and a number of beneficial nutrients. Brussels sprouts also contain important phytonutrients called glucosinolates that are the catalysts for a variety of cancer-protective substances. All members of the cruciferous family of plants contain glucosinolates, but Brussels sprouts have been found to contain the highest amounts and in special combination. The pears are a good source of copper and an excellent source of soluble fiber.
All good stuff... so let's get sproutin'!
If you've never seen a mature Brussels sprout plant, they definitely qualify as one of the most bizarre-looking plants. This one had already had the side leaves removed. The leaves are large and waxy, sticking out like giant fans and begin to drop off as the plant grows taller. The larger sprouts will be at the top, attached in a tight cluster (left). The smaller, newer sprouts will be at the bottom of the stalk closest to the base of the plant (right).
The easiest way I have found to remove the sprouts is to hold the stalk upright with one hand, and cut each sprout off with a sharp paring knife, starting at the bottom. When you get near the top where the sprouts are tight, lay the stalk down on your cutting board and wedge your blade in between each one to carefully remove. A stalk this size (~2') will provide about 2 pounds of sprouts.
(Camera shy: fortified nutritional yeast) PRINT HERE
This dressing reminds me of an orange creamsicle. It's slightly sweet, fragrant, and highly flavored of orange and ginger; and pairs well with the sharp flavors of the raw salad ingredients.
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes (plus soaking time) PREP TIME: 30 minutes COOKING TIME: None SOAKING TIME: 2 hrs
Here's what you'll need to make ~1.5 cups of Orange Ginger Dressing
1/2 cup cashews soaked in hot water for 2 hours
2 navel oranges, zested, peeled and cut into chunks
2" piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
1/3 cup white wine or champagne vinegar
2 Medjool dates soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup fortified nutritional yeast* (optional)
Dash of salt & ground black pepper
* Fortified nutritional yeast is a good source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12. Not all brands of nutritional yeast are fortified, so check the label carefully. Nutritional yeast also lends some body and flavor to this dressing but it can be omitted if necessary.
THE PROCESS for the DRESSING:
1. Place cashews in a bowl and pour enough HOT water over them to cover by 1/2". Set aside for two hours, occasionally stirring to submerge those floating on the surface.
2. Zest the oranges. Cover the zest and refrigerate until needed. Peel the oranges, chop into chunks and put them in your freezer while waiting for the cashews to soak.
3. Remove the seeds from the dates, place in a small bowl and pour 1/4 cup HOT water over them. Set aside.
4. Keep the ginger and vinegar cold until needed.
5. Add the partially frozen orange chunks, 2/3 of the zest, the soaked and drained cashews, the dates AND their soaking liquid, the nutritional yeast, ginger, vinegar and S&P to your high-speed blender. Blend until completely smooth, scraping down sides if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Dressing should be slightly thick, creamy and pourable. Thin with orange juice, water or more vinegar if necessary. Refrigerate until needed (can be stored up to 1 week).
Here's what you'll need to make 8-10 servings of the Shaved Brussels Sprout, Pomegranate and Pear Salad:
1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts
1 shallot or small purple onion (1/2 cup)
2 firm Bartlett or D'Anjou pears
1/2 cup pecans, toasted or raw
1 cup pomegranate arils
remaining orange zest from Orange Ginger Dressing
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
Juice from 1 lemon
THE PROCESS for the SALAD:
1. Wash and dry the pears. Leaving the peel intact, slice into 1/4" slabs, remove the center core and dice small. Place pears into a small bowl, squeeze lemon over top and toss to coat.
2. Wash and dry Brussels sprouts. Using a food processor or sharp chef's knife, slice thinly, preferably lengthwise. Place in a serving bowl.
3. Finely dice shallot or purple onion and add to Brussels sprouts.
4. Finely chop mint and add to serving bowl.
5. Add the diced pears to the serving bowl and half of the pomegranate arils.
6. Pour about half of the dressing over all, toss carefully to thoroughly coat.
7. Garnish with additional pomegranate arils, pecans and reserved mint leaves and orange zest.
8. Serve with additional sauce over top (first photo above) or as a condiment on the table.
This salad can be made up to two days in advance and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. Add the additional garnishes when serving.
Nutrition information is for 1.5 cups of salad plus an additional Tbsp of dressing.
If you make this recipe, I love to hear how you and your guests liked it! Snap a photo and tag me too, #chefcatherinebrown. I love seeing what you make!
DISCLOSURES: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products I use and trust.