It's winter time and with it comes the foods of winter. The warming braises, roasts, and baked goods that are wonderfully comforting for those nights when the temperature drops to "considering climate change denial" levels. But even then, at some point this winter you're probably going to get tired of constantly consuming comfort food, and the idea of eating a salad will sound increasingly compelling. Something crisp, cool, and cleansing to break up the eventually monotony of warm and rich.
The most common winter salad you're going to encounter these days will likely be built on a sturdy foundation of kale. Kale grows this time of year and is made of leaves and so it totally makes sense to eat it in the winter as a salad. I think you should. But kale has a problem. In the last few years, kale has become the Modest Mouse of food. The thing is, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it, and in fact, it's cool that everyone got into this thing that is genuinely good despite being definitely a little weird and taking some time to really come around to. At the same time though, maybe, I don't know, I would like to take a little break from it for a bit. And while I completely loathe the idea of abandoning a trend or popular thing not because of a flaw in its content but simply because it is well liked, maybe I'm just tired of every salad I eat from October through May being the 2003-2005 airplay of the song Float On, you know? And I get it, I'm suggesting you make a brussels sprouts salad instead, which, given that brussels sprouts have totally come back and did so many years ago, is like me earnestly sending you a link to last year's Father John Misty record like I'm your aunt from the midwest who has a subscription to Rolling Stone, but still, whatever.
I'm not sure what any of this means anymore other than, maybe make a salad like this because it's delicious, adaptable to a slew of seasonal ingredients, and easy to make. Ok? Ok.
All that you really need for this salad is brussels sprouts, butter, and a lemon or something acidic like white wine vinegar or whatever. Other great additions are crunchy things that look neat and taste good. I went with walnuts, pomegranate seeds, and a chiogga beet.
The general recipe is that for every pound of brussels you're using, you need about 3 tablespoons of butter. So have that much. As with all things butter related, it's always better to err on the side of too much. With that in mind, let's actually change that to 4 tablespoons of butter. Have at least that much now.
Next up, slice the brussels into thin enough bits that they're not annoying to eat raw. Save the leaves that fall off and put those in a bowl.
Now take about a third of your slice brussels sprouts and add them to the bowl with the leaves. Get a cast iron or not-nonstick pan ripping hot, add a little oil, and then dump in (carefully) the contents of said bowl. Spread everything out in an even layer, add a pinch of salt, and then don't fuss with it for a bit. The goal is to get a really nice char on the sprouts. After a minute or two, toss them around and char the previously non-charred sides until they look something like this.
Set them on a plate to cool and get to work on your other veggies. Peel the beet and slice it into thin little match sticks with a mandoline.
Procure the seeds from the grabby flesh of a pomegranate by cutting it in half along its equator, and then sort of just spanking the skin with a kitchen spoon while holding the cut side. I advise you do this over a bowl.
You can make fancy candied nuts by deep frying them. I took the lazier non-deep fried route and boiled them briefly in salted water, tossed them in sugar, and then baked them at 400 for like 20 minutes. I baked them on a pan covered in aluminum foil because I don't like having to scrub burnt sugar bits off pans until like, the sun expands and swallows the earth.
Right before you want to eat this salad, brown the butter in a pan. The internet was kind enough to provide us all with a well edited video demonstrating exactly how to do this. Thanks the internet.
Combine the raw and charred brussels in a bowl or the tightly cupped hands of a giant person and add the browned butter. Stir it up. Add salt. Add pepper? Sure! Add the juice from a lemon (aka, lemon juice) to balance out the butteriness. The goal here is to have the final salad taste resplendently of browned butter without being flat or overly fatty, and so the lemon juice is there to pep it up but not get in the way. A great way to know how much lemon juice to add is to pretend that the juice is Jack Black and the salad is a movie. Try to make it High Fidelity and not Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny.
Add the other stuff. Put it on a plate.
And there you have it. A salad.