Eating burgers twice a week as part of the Yeg Burger Odyssey necessitates making healthier decisions on the days you’re not scarfing down seared meat and cheese.
It helps that I’ve recently become obsessed with a vegetable that I grew up despising…the lowly Brussel Sprout. Growing up, I only ever had them one way, and it’s probably the worst way you can cook them – boiled. Not only boiled, but boiled to death. They were soft and mushy, and always had a strong, pungent flavour that is totally off-putting. Just nasty.
Now that I’m older and have an oven of my own, I’ve started roasting them, and leaving them slightly crispy. Low and behold, I actually enjoy them! It’s gotten to the point where we’re having them at least once a week, even topping pizzas with them.
Of course that means I needed to tap into my creative side to come up with some new ways to enjoy them!
I took a bit of inspiration from a dish I had in Austin, at Top Chef winner Paul Qui’s restaurant. It was a coleslaw with charred cabbage in it, and was probably our favourite dish of the whole meal. I decided I’d char some brussel sprouts, and make a salad of them, using a super simple dressing that utilizes an often wasted flavour powerhouse from the fridge – pickle juice.
Charring the sprouts in the oven gets them slightly soft, but they still maintain some texture. The freshness of the carrot, the sweetness from the dried cranberries, the crunchiness of the peanuts, and the creamy acidity of the dressing work so well together that I can’t stop eating it.
The first time I made it, I cut them in half and roasted them in the oven on high heat. Near the end I tossed in some loose leaves to develop a nice char on those as well. Then I cooled the sprouts, and sliced them thin like coleslaw. The second time, to switch it up, I decided to leave the sprouts in halves. I think I preferred the first method of thin-slicing them, but the fact that I overcooked them the second time didn’t help (hey, even a food blogger can mess up once in a while!). Either way, the goal is to get a good char without them getting way overcooked and mushy.
I wanted to keep the dressing simple, and use ingredients I always have laying around, taking up shelf space…like pickle juice!
I’ve been using pickle juice for a lot of things lately, as it seems so wasteful to just dump all that flavour down the sink when you’ve finished the pickles. It’s a simple ratio to remember as well: 3 parts mayo to 1 part pickle juice. I added a bit of pepper too, but it didn’t require any extra salt due to the saltiness of the juice.
This is going to be a great addition to my summer salad rotation, especially for those days when you just don’t want to turn on the oven, because you could easily roast the sprouts on your outdoor grill with a beer in hand.
Now that’s my kind of recipe!
Charred Brussel Sprout Salad
20 large brussel sprouts
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2 tbsp chopped toasted peanuts or walnuts
6 tbsp mayonaise
2 tbsp pickle juice (I used the juice from some pickled jalapenos, but any pickle juice you like will do just fine)
pepper to taste
Dressing– Mix mayo, pickle juice, and pepper together.
Salad– Preheat oven to 500 degrees
Peel any blemished or damaged leaves from the brussel sprouts. Cut off the core, and halve lengthwise. Remove any loose leaves and put aside for now.
Place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet or cast iron pan. Roast until bottoms are charred, and switch to broil for the last minute or 2 if more charring is desired. During the last minute or 2 of roasting, mix in the reserved loose leaves.
While the sprouts are roasting, toast the peanuts in a dry frying pan on the stove until slightly browned.
Remove the sprouts from the oven and transfer to a cool surface. You want them to cool quickly so they don’t keep cooking. (Since I didn’t have a pound of ice ready for an ice bath, I put them in the fridge for a few minutes to speed the cooling)
When cooled, dress the salad with the dressing, and top with dried cranberries and peanuts.