Brussels sprouts Caesar salad with lemon thyme
I simply adore Brussels sprouts, they are not only one of my favourite vegetables but they are extremely good for you – so much so that in California, home of so-called ‘Healthy Eating’ they are currently all the rage.
They also complete a Christmas Day lunch and if they’re not on the menu then I’m not turning up. I realise that for many they are not so popular but I think this is usually down to the fact that they’re often over-cooked and can taste very bitter.
Whatever you feel about the humble Brussel, it’s very often the case that a large bag is purchased and not all of them are cooked. My advice is to always only cook a few for lunch, maybe four or five per person, which means you’ll always have leftovers. This divine Caesar salad is a cunning twist on the classic and I promise it will make you a sprout lover!
I’ve gone for a riff on the classic recipe but without the anchovies for vegetarian reasons and quite frankly I’ve still made a stonker of a Caesar dressing, replacing the saltiness from the ‘crushed anchovy’ with Parmesan – but I’ve also added salt and fresh lemon thyme whilst crushing my garlic cloves.
The lemon thyme is a simply sublime addition (if you don’t have any, grow some and come back in six months) so I’d try and include it if you can, it makes all the difference.
A little note on cooking your sprouts: I have instructed to blanch your sprouts in salted boiled water for 5 minutes. I like my sprouts crunchy because I want this to feel like a classic Caesar salad and you’re replacing the crunchy cos, so it needs to have bite. You may want them a little softer, so feel free to boil or steam them for as long as you like – just don’t go for soft, try and take them out of the heat at al dente.
Start by boiling a kettle, then trim your Brussels and cut half of them in half and the rest into quarters and place them into a pan. Once the kettle has boiled pour the water over the sprouts, sprinkle on a little salt and set aside for at least 5 min. Once you’re happy with the ‘bite’ of your Brussels, take them out of the boiling water and plunge them into iced water and set aside.
Crush the garlic with a teaspoon of salt and the fresh lemon thyme until you have a salty, lemony paste, then add it to the oil. Leave to infuse for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 200C and cut the bread into rough crouton-sized cubes. Toss with a little of the oil to coat, and then bake for about 15 min until golden and crisp – set aside.
Add a tablespoon of grated Parmesan to a large salad bowl, then using a balloon whisk, beat in the yolk, and gradually the rest of the garlic-infused oil until you have a thickish dressing. Stir in the lemon juice and two tablespoons of mayonnaise until you have a sweet, creamy sauce.
Now you’re ready to assemble your salad. Drain the sprouts well and throw them into the bowl with the dressing. Get your hands stuck in and toss them through the sauce, pulling off some of the outer leaves of the sprouts and leaving them loose in the bowl. Add the croutons and some fresh Parmesan shavings – and even some avocado if you like – and then you’re ready to serve.
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