Not My Mother’s Spruitjes ❉ Brussels Sprout Salad

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I’ve always liked Brussels sprouts, not only for their taste and charming petite cabbage-ness, but also because I’m of Belgian descent and their name is certainly evocative of what I grew up calling the “old country.” We called them by their Flemish name, spruitjes, which makes them even more irresistible. To say it, make sure you roll that r, use a soft oe sound and end with a tchs sound; I’m no linguist, so I hope my pronunciation instruction works for you.

When I was a girl growing up on the farm, my mother grew Brussels sprouts in her garden. They were served boiled, of course, like most self-respecting vegetables back in the day, with a bit of butter to finish and a grating of nutmeg. I’ve since learned there are so many different ways to cook sprouts that make them even better.

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If you like Brussels sprouts, this is the salad for you. If you don’t, this is the salad that will make you a spruitjes lover. The thinly, thinly sliced sprouts take on a totally different quality from any cooked sprout you’ve ever had. They end up finely shredded, and a bit of red onion that’s been soaked in water adds extra flavour without the raw bite. The tangy dressing is the perfect complement to the slightly crunchy sprouts.

I found this recipe where I find so many excellent ideas, on the Emmy Cooks blog. Emmy’s recipes are consistently good and many of them have found their way to my kitchen and then to this blog. Do check out her site!

The Culinary Enthusiast and I had this salad for dinner one evening. I don’t remember what else we ate that night; this salad was definitely the star of the meal. Once you try it, you’ll know why!

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Brussels Sprout Salad

Slightly adapted from the Emmy Cooks recipe, here.

Thinly slice a small amount of red onion (about 1/4 of a small one) and soak in cold water while you make the rest of the salad. Wash and trim about a half pound of Brussels sprouts, then cut them in half lengthwise and then slice them as thinly as possible. The many layers separate, giving a shredded effect. Of course you could use a food processor for this, but I found it wasn’t too much of a workout to do it by hand. For the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp whole grain mustard, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Once combined, add about 1 tbsp olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Drain the onions and add to the sprouts, then pour over the dressing and toss well. If desired, add some finely grated parmesan cheese, but the salad is excellent without it, too.

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29 comments

  1. I could eat this salad every day! I usually serve something else with it, to make it seem more like a proper meal, but whatever else goes on my plate is certainly an afterthought. 🙂 I love that we can share recipes from so far away–it’s so fun to have insight into the kitchen of a great cook like you who shares my tastes! 🙂

      • Maybe I have a career as a linguist next! Your pronunciation sounds pretty close, but bear in mind that I didn’t grow up speaking Flemish. The tj combination at the end sounds like a soft t followed by a ch.

        I told my mother today that people who follow my blog are talking about spruitjes now, and she was amazed. She was a little concerned that I didn’t tell you they’re Brussels sprouts 😊. Good thing I did, or no one would ever find them at the market!

    • You flatter me! Thank you for the compliment. The blogging experience has opened up a whole new world of cooking. Twenty-five years ago, when my kids were more or less the age of yours, the internet wasn’t there yet. No blogs, no quickly looking up a recipe or an ingredient substitution, no easy exposure to new foods and no email to exchange information. Where I live, there were hardly any cooking shows and certainly no network devoted to them. Really, how did I do it! Seriously, I love being able to link up with like-minded people such as yourself and explore the world of food. And, of course, discover wonderful recipes like this salad.

  2. Interesting so the brussel sprout are raw? hmm I must try this sometime. I have tried shredding brussel sprout using a food processor but about a 1/3 of each one just flies off and doesn’t get cut up (I have a very bad food processor) next time I will try cutting by hand.

    • Yes, the sprouts are raw and they are so good! We eat cabbage raw, so I don’t know why it came as such a revelation to me that sprouts would also be good that way.

      As for the method to slice them, I simply couldn’t face getting out and then having to clean my food processor. It went well with my good knife, and I enjoyed the added benefit of what I like to call kitchen therapy.

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  3. I’ve seen chefs on TV use shredded Brussels sprouts before but I’ve also seen them do plenty of things that I never tried. Now that I’ve someone I trust saying I should try them, well, that’s different. It couldn’t be easier to make and the dressing is very similar to one I make. All I need now are some spruitjes. And, no, Mar, i didn’t attempt to pronounce it. 🙂

    • Oh yes, you MUST, you simply must try this. Well, you don’t have to, but you’ll be missing out it you don’t!

      Go ahead, try to say spruitjes too. You can’t do any worse with it than I do with Italian!

    • Oh yes, they (we) are! I told my Mom today that I wrote about spruitjes and she seemed quite amazed. And why not when you think about it — she never could have expected that food she put on the table when I was a child would be read and talked about by people (well, a few anyway 😊) all over the world!

  4. Brussel sprouts have to be one of the “cutest” vegetables on the planet. Sort of like baby elephants of the vegetable world. Except….I haven’t quite developed the taste for them. I’m going to take your advice on this one though Mar because I so WANT to love them! 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement to do so!

    • Love that phrase ‘baby elephants of the vegetable world’! You should try this recipe – if it doesn’t make you a spruitjes lover, nothing will! (I do so like saying ‘spruitjes’ 😊).

    • Isn’t it funny how so many of us grew up on boiled-to-the-brink-of-babyfood vegetables! It’s a wonder we eat them at all. I also like my sprouts roasted, and I have another recipe where you peel off all the leaves and pan saute them with some bacon. Seriously good! (I feel another spruitjes post coming on.)

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