Brussels sprouts and pecorino salad

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I nearly didn’t make this salad for Thanksgiving.

With Sam Sifton’s peremptory Thanksgiving book still ringing in my ears, I did, in fact, briefly debate the pros and cons of his strict no-salad rule. Might it diminish the lusciousness of the meal? Is it the last thing anyone wants to see on a festive table? On the other hand, this barely counts as salad. Surely by salad, Sifton means lettuce?

As it turned out, this deceptively simple dish of raw Brussels sprouts and fresh pecorino, both finely shaved and tossed with a simple dressing, was — again — undoubtedly one of the favorites of the table. On the contrary, what a welcome bounce on the palate between forkfuls of turkey and chestnut stuffing.

This dish wasn’t born as a Thanksgiving side, and shouldn’t die as one. It is a salad for any occasion. I first encountered something similar quite some years ago in the lunch bar up the block from our office in Soho. That version had walnuts, and though adding nuts would be overkill on Thanksgiving, they marry perfectly.

This is barely a recipe, just a few very good ingredients tossed together. It must be made a few hours ahead, so the dressing has time to soften the Brussels sprouts. There should be enough pecorino for a shaving or two in each mouthful.

Very fresh Brussels sprouts, preferably still on the stem because snapping them off is a fun occupation for children on Thanksgiving morning

Pecorino, not too aged

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sherry or good wine vinegar

Best olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly hulled walnuts (optional)

Trim and remove one or two outer leaves of each Brussels sprout, then shave them finely with a mandolin or a sharp knife and lots of patience.

Cut the pecorino into paper thin shavings.

The salad is very thirsty and will soak up the dressing, so plan generously, but the proportions are roughly: 5 lemon juice plus 1 vinegar to 8 olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper. Taste the salad and adjust dressing/seasoning as necessary.

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8 Responses to “Brussels sprouts and pecorino salad”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Made this last night and it was absolutely delicious. I can also attest to the fact that it’s still delicious the next day. Thanks!

  2. hruskova Says:

    This looks delicious. I have been in something of a Brussels sprout rut, so I look forward to trying something new. And I have yet to find sprouts still on the stem here. For shame, Brussels!

    • valerie Says:

      Oh good, do let me know how you like it! Surely they must sell Brussels sprouts on stem at the farmers’ market?…

  3. Oui, Chef Says:

    I have never made a salad at Thanksgiving, but with this tasty, and seasonally appropriate treat at my fingertips, I think I will next year!

    • valerie Says:

      Steve, I hadn’t either until I thought to make this one, but if ever there was a salad intended for Thanksgiving, this is it.

  4. Michelle Says:

    I have to part company with Sifton on the no-salad rule. No lettuce, right. But something crunchy and bright really is required. And that one sounds great.

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