There is a former food blogger I really like who left her food blogging life last summer and switched to a new blogging life where she writes ordinary postings of ordinary things – like where to buy good t-shirts, what to pack for a 6-hour hospital stay and a what a grown up needs to survive a cold. I still like her (as much as any healthy person can like anyone they have never met) but I miss the candor about parenthood, cooking and life she brought to her old blog. While I try to focus on all the good things happening, and blogging actually brings a lot of those great things to the surface, I also like hearing someone call a spade a spade at times. Since I’m Southern that it is not going to be me. (I come from a long line of women who pretend everything is fine all the time.)
I think of her and her new life every now and then because of one of her final posts. One where she told everyone that she was departing the food blogosphere and why. At one point in her story she made a food-blogger-y joke about how pleased she was to no longer have to try to tie her thoughts together neatly with a recipe. “Speaking of this pen, here is a recipe for banana pie.” Or something like that.
This challenge of being a story-telling-food writer is one I know well. The truth is that sometimes you cook something just because that is what was in your refrigerator. Sometimes there are no deeper thoughts, no interesting stories, no Mimi Thorrsson type photos to go along with it. There was no romantic moment where you lifted the brussels sprout gently to your cheek to feel its soft, delicate leaves caress your skin. There was no moment when the musty, earthy Pecorino drew you back to a summer in Tuscany long ago and nearly forgotten … no, sometimes it is simply that you have some brussels sprouts in the refrigerator and friends are coming for dinner and it is too cold to go out for any other ingredients. Sometimes it is because you are kind of stubborn and even though you forgot to pick up everything you needed from the grocery store for a side dish you had in mind, you would never admit that to your husband who asked, “Are you SURE this is everything because I really don’t want to have to come back to the store” three hours earlier, and you rudely barked, “YES!” in response. And sometimes you have a bunch of ingredients and only a slight idea of how to bring them together but when you do it is fantastic.
And speaking of fantastic, here is a recipe for a shaved brussels sprouts salad that you are going to love.
- 350g (3/4 lb) brussels sprouts with discolored leaves discarded and stems just barely trimmed
- 100g walnuts (1 cup) lightly toasted
- 120g (1 cup) dried cranberries (plus 1 tablespoon for decoration)
- 1 crisp, tart apple, cored, cut in half and sliced as thinly as possible.
- 200g (7 oz) Pecorino Romano
- 80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
- juice from two large lemons
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- chunky sea salt
- fresh cracked black pepper
- Using a food processor fitted with the adjustable blade attachment set to very fine, feed brussels sprouts through the feed tube to shred them all. Set aside in a large mixing bowl. (Do not wash the food processor yet, you'll need it again).
- In a small jar combine olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, a generous pinch of salt and a generous pinch of pepper. Shake hard for 30 seconds until the dressing is well combined.
- Combine shredded brussels sprouts, walnuts, apple slices and cranberries in a large mixing bowl. Toss with the dressing and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Using the food processor and the same blade shred the Pecorino Romano. Add it to the mixing bowl containing the brussels sprouts and toss gently.
- Spread out in a large shallow bowl and top with a few extra cranberries for presentation.
- Is best if made up to two hours in advance and left in a cool, dry place for serving.