An ode to the elegance of simplicity. To not laboring over a stove for hours on end. To enjoying the day and basking in the sunlight.
This past Saturday, the last day before March, was a beautiful day. The sun was shining like it rarely does during this time of year. A preview of things to come. It brought back memories of all the activities we used to do when the weather was nicer. Biking to the beach. Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to get soup dumplings and not feeling bad about binge eating because we just walked 2 hours for lunch. Spending entire afternoons at the farmers market. Berry picking in the fields of Long Island.
Life has been busy to the point of insanity lately. There's been such a deluge of things to get done that I have neglected the most important of them: enjoying my surroundings with the people I love. So let's forget about all of that for one moment. Forget about work, forget about made up expectations, and enjoy the very life that we seem to so often forget to actually live. To celebrate the simple pleasures in life, a simple brussels sprout salad for those days when we all have better things to do than stay in the kitchen.
This salad is a better version of the sprouts I served on turkey day. Unfortunately, because there were too many things going on in my kitchen, I accidentally drowned the delicate leaves with way too much of a dressing that was way too sweet, unofficially crowning it the worst side dish of the evening. Given a few months to refine the recipe, it has been reborn anew, into something wonderfully enjoyable to eat. It strikes a lovely balance between raw and cooked sprouts. Whereas raw sprouts can sometime be a bit bland, and cooked sprouts can sometimes be both mushy and stinky, this salad manages to stay both crunchy and slightly sweet by cooking the leaves at a relatively high heat for less than one minute. Just enough for them to be their best, vibrantly green selves.
Serves 2 generously or plenty more as a side.
For the vinaigrette:
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
1 lb brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup marcona almonds
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper until emulsified. Set aside while you prepare the brussels sprouts.
Prepare a large bowl filled halfway with cold water. Using a paring knife, cut the bottom off of each brussels sprout and discard any damaged outer leaves. Separate the rest of the leaves, trimming the base as needed, until you get to the center. Thinly slice the core, then places the leaves and slices into the bowl (the water helps keep the leaves from wilting as you work). Once complete, drain the sprouts and dry them off.
In a large stainless steel skillet, heat olive oil on medium high. Once shimmering, add brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing frequently for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until the leaves are bright green but still retain their shape. If necessary, do this in two batches, dividing the oil between each. Transfer sprouts to a large salad bowl. Drizzle half of the dressing on top, toss, and add more dressing as desired. Top with marcona almonds and enjoy immediately.