Whenever I go to my brother John’s restaurant in Chicago I know I am going to have an amazing meal. I crave one of the fabulous cocktails (a pueblo magico, please), the empanadas, the seafood moqueca… and of course, the alfajores… but I have to admit that the thing I look most forward to eating is the shaved brussels sprouts salad. Really, you ask? Brussels sprouts? Weren’t those the things we pushed to the side of our plate as kids and hoped our parents would not notice that we didn’t eat?
Well, words really cannot describe the magic Tio (as John is known is House Morell) has worked with the once-lowly brussels sprout. Just a few simple ingredients: the sprouts, the light springy dill, the earthy manchego cheese and the salty spanish-style almonds combined with the lemon and olive oil dressing creates a thing of wonder.
Tio came to town recently for an event, and I was tasked to do some of the prep work for this salad. I discovered the truth of it’s simplicity. I usually don’t dare try to duplicate what he creates in his kitchen… but this did seem like something I could handle… and I believe actually anyone could handle it.
The thing is about John and I – we work on completely opposite schedules. When I’m having a leisurely Saturday afternoon puttering around my kitchen, he’s in full swing at the restaurant, getting ready to feed a hundred or so people. I called to clarify a few specifics, but he didn’t have a lot of time for a long chat – and his mind works in feeding sprouts to dozens – not a party of four. The guidance was helpful, but a bit vague.
So, let me be very clear – this is my version (the girl with no culinary training whatsoever), not John’s take. I went for straight-up brussels sprouts – John adds grilled radicchio. But the recipe I put together for the home cook is fantastic. Really. You will never look at a brussels sprout again without craving this salad. Trust me… every ounce that was made for the photo-shoot was inhaled by M. Actually, he took one of the plates in the middle of the photo shoot…
(A warning – you really must have a mandolin on hand to make this salad… it’s near-impossible to slice the sprouts as thin as you’d like them with a knife.)
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Manchego and Marcona Almonds
- 4 cups shaved brussels sprouts (using a mandolin)
- 1/4 cup (packed) fresh dill… picked from the stems – not chopped
- 1/2 cup manchego cheese, sliced with that mandolin again, then chopped into smaller pieces
- 1/2 cup marcona almonds (salted, with rosemary), chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2/3 cup excellent quality olive oil
Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together to make a dressing.
Combine the sprouts, dill, manchego and almonds in a large salad bowl. Coat with the dressing, and toss together until all the elements are lightly dressed.
Place the salad on plates, and sprinkle with a bit of extra manchego and almonds.