I think Brussels Sprouts are the most misunderstood vegetables out there. I don’t know where its bad reputation is from, but I’ve recently fallen in love with the Brussels Sprout. They aren’t bitter at all! Such misunderstood poor things, when they are actually really delicious. I’ve roasted them, steamed them, stir fried them, and most recently shredded them for an easy winter-style panzanella. Let me explain. Panzanella is an Italian bread salad, typically consisting of beautiful summer ripened tomatoes (heirloom being my most favorite) tossed with dry bread pieces and dressed in a vinaigrette. Seeing how it’s still sub 45*F, summer ripened tomatoes are far from available, and so I concocted a Brussels sprouts panzanella instead – nutty undertones from the Brussels sprouts that are enhanced by a handful of toasted walnuts; sweet and crunchy bell peppers; bits of aromatic shallots and minced garlic; salty and pungent grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil to bring it all together; and lastly, sponge-y Italian bread to soak up all those flavors.
1 lb Brussels sprouts
1c bell peppers, diced
2 shallots, minced
1/2c walnuts, chopped & toasted
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar
Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste
1/2 loaf stale Italian bread, cubed & lightly toasted
For vinaigrette, whisk together minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
To prepare Brussels sprouts, remove the the ends and thoroughly wash buds, removing outermost leaves. Shred the Brussels sprouts in direction parallel to removed ends. In a large frying pan or skillet, heat a splash of olive oil on medium heat and add the shredded Brussels sprouts. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and pinch of salt. Cook until soft and wilted about 5-10 minutes, but not browned, stirring pan occasionally. Remove sprouts to a separate bowl, but keep pan on medium heat.
To the same pan, add the diced bell peppers and 1/2 cup of water, or just enough to barely cover the peppers half way. Cook peppers until soft and transparent but still crunchy and bright in color, and until the water has all dissolved. We do not want to add any water to our salad. Remove from heat, and toss in same bowl with Brussels sprouts.
In that same bowl, add the toasted walnuts and minced shallots. Then add cubed bread pieces, and dress with vinaigrette. Add as much much bread as needed to soak up the dressing. Toss to distribute evenly. Allow to marinate for about 5 minutes before consuming.
See? Brussels sprouts aren’t so bad after all! And I’ve developed a dozen ways to prepare them, which I will share with you in due time. I’ve been really good at cleaning out my fridge and pantry, and this is such a versatile and fun recipe to experiment with – you can customize the recipe to pretty much whatever you have on hand. The panzanella is fairly healthy and really satisfying – big bold flavors, lots of fun textures, pretty colors, and so so so easy to prepare. It’s pretty much the closest thing to summer I’ll be able to have in a long while. So enjoy!
Dreaming of California sunshine and summer time,