Barbuto, Jonathan Waxman's cozy Italian restaurant in West Village. We typically use the special occasions as an excuse to splash out on one of the fancy restaurants on our to-do list, but this time we just decided to keep it low key.
It was freezing outside (a snowy winter wedding followed by a two-week tropical escape was awesome at the time, but now I find myself wishing it weren't so dang cold. This year, for example, I wore flannel.)
One of my favorite dishes of the evening was the Brussels sprouts salad, which featured thinly sliced sprouts tossed in a simple dressing of lemon juice and grated Pecorino cheese, topped with toasted hazelnuts.
"You know what this needs?" I told Eugene. "A nice generous drizzle of honey. A good, orange blossom honey. Man...I wish I had some honey to add to this."
Chef Waxman was actually standing just a few feet away from us, hamming it up with friends at the bar, and I pointed him out to Eugene.
"Why don't you tell him?" He challenged me. "Tell him the salad is good, but needs honey."
"Yeah...no, I'm not going to do that," I said.
"I'm just going to make it at home."
And so here it is!
The key to this salad is definitely the thinly shaved brussels sprouts. The thin texture combined with the tangy dressing makes the sprouts tender and absolutely irresistible. I used my food procesor to shave them, but you can also use a mandoline or even a knife (and some patience) to do it by hand.
And if you're feeling lazy? Check the prepackaged salad aisle at the supermarket; a lot of stores sell them already shredded!
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Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pecorino, Hazelnuts & Honey
1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts, thinly shaved
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted (or use roasted salted hazelnuts)
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (use a good, sharp imported variety)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey (such as orange blossom honey)
Toss Brussels sprouts, hazelnuts, and cheese in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper. Add the dressing to the salad and toss to combine well. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary (you may need ab it of salt or additional lemon juice, depending on your preferences.)
Drizzle with honey and serve immediately.