It is easy to overlook the meager Brussels sprouts for the more traditionally appealing pumpkin pie or mashed potatoes. Those are not difficult to win over fans – wrapped in a flaky crust, layered with spice, whipped with butter and cream – it’s no wonder those dishes get the fame. But today I’m here as an advocate for the tender sprout.

Last year I attempted to woo sprout followers with a dish of charred Brussels sprouts made sweet by an extended stay in a hot oven. Combined with creamy white beans and sharp pecorino it was an easy sell.

This year I’m going raw which may prove a more difficult challenge. But, for me this salad is perfect for the traditionally hefty Thanksgiving meal. Sitting next to a mound of mashed potatoes with a near lake of gravy this bright salad softens its neighbor’s richness. And while taking up prime real estate on your holiday plate you may possibly feel more entitled to a slightly larger piece of pie.

But more important than that this salad stands alone as a great dish. I’ve taught it in a class, made it for friends, told many about its sour, slightly sweet and fresh taste and have had it for lunch and dinner on many occasions. (Never for breakfast but now that I think about it with a fried egg it would make for a mighty way to start the day).

Frilly tendrils of sprouts soften under a tart vinaigrette while pungent red onions and pecorino add richness and the marks the bite as a memorable one. If you feel so inclined a few walnuts tossed in or maybe even toasted breadcrumbs would be a nice addition. But in its simplicity there is greatness.

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Brussels Sprout Salad with Red Onion and Pecorino

Adapted from Food52

A microplane makes the shaving of these little vegetables a quick and simple task but I realize many are fearful of the ridiculously sharp blade of those machines. If that’s the case a sharp knife does the job well. The red onions spend some time soaking in the vinaigrette, softening their pungency and giving them a quick pickle (thanks for this tip, Rachel). The vinaigrette can be made several days in advance and the red onions can bathe in the dressing for a day in advance leaving only the combining of a few ingredients to be done right before dinner.

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups Brussels sprouts (use larger sprouts if possible)
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Add the sliced onions and set aside.
Trim all of the brussels sprouts, cutting off any bruised outer leaves and slicing off a good portion of the hard root end. Using a mandoline, shave the sprouts one at a time. When you’re done, use your fingers to gently separate the leaves so that the shredded sprouts resemble a very fine slaw.
Put the sprouts in a serving bowl and toss gently with the onions and the dressing. Fold in the pecorino, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Finish with a bit more pecorino on top then serve immediately.


59 Responses to “Brussels Sprout Salad with Red Onion and Pecorino”

  1. Jeanine

    love! this is so pretty (especially imagining it sitting next to all the “brown foods” at the thanksgiving table).

  2. la domestique

    I was actually just contemplating how I want to serve Brussels sprouts at my Thanksgiving table, and love this idea! The flavors are very enticing, especially tangy pecorino, which is always refreshing in place of the same old Parmesan.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Emmy – I’ve recently gone to Skillet twice and have been tempted by that salad but go towards the burgers instead. I have been making a great kale salad with very similar to this one with toasted breadcrumbs. So good.

  3. Brenda

    bought some of Oxbow’w from the market yesterday. I LOVE brussels sprouts…they go so well with pecans too. stunning photos. will you be planning on doing photography classes in the new year?

  4. Daytona @ Outside Oslo

    Sounds delicious. I’m so glad brussels sprouts are making a comeback after having such a bad reputation. Do you think the sprouts in this recipe could be prepped by using a food processor (perhaps with the slicing disk rather than the shredding one in order to not grind them to a pulp)? I shred my cabbage that way, but do you think it would work with the smaller sprouts?

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Daytona – I’ve never tried it but I imagine it would work beautifully. File that under the category – why didn’t I think of that? To my credit, I only recently got a full size food processor. Thanks for this tip/comment.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Danielle – I’d say four as a side. Very easy to adapt for larger crowds of course. I’m pretty sure I could easily polish off this entire serving.

  5. jaime @ sweet road

    Mmm, this looks so refreshing. Brussel sprouts tend to have a bitter flavor raw, but I’ve noticed when you chop them up like this and mix in other ingredients it’s not as noticeable… it’s tame and so flavorful.

  6. katie

    That is the prettiest brussels sprout salad I’ve ever seen. I wish I wasn’t the only one in my house who liked them!

  7. Erin | The Law Student's Wife

    We are Brussels sprouts twins! Well, fraternal twins. I love love them roasted (just published a post on them today in fact) and think they are prefect for T-day, but have never dared to serve them raw. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Stephanie S

    Oddly, this is not the first raw Brussels sprout salad I have seen in my RSS feed for Turkey Day. Which is encouraging! My mom’s favorite vegetable was always anathema to me, until my late teens. Most likely because my mom was not much of a chef and only ever steamed them. Although, if I think about it, I loved sauerkraut, asparagus, and broccoli…so I should have loved Brussels sprouts too. Who knows 😛 Anyway, this looks lovely and I’m excited to try it! Thanks for the lovely recipes and thoughtful posts. It’s a pleasure to read your blog.

  9. Margherita

    Question: I really struggle digesting cooked Brussel sprouts, any chance raw one will be easier?
    I would love to try to make this salad: it looks fantastic!!!!

  10. Kathryn

    Sprouts are very popular at my family’s table and I love the lightness of this dish. Those flavours are just calling my name.

    PS your pictures are, as ever, absolutely stunning.

  11. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen

    Any way I can eat Brussels sprouts, I do it. I seriously don’t know where they got the bad rap! When eating them raw, I think the trick is to keep the pieces small like you did here. I did a salad where I separated the leaves, which helped too.

    Looks gorgeous as well!

  12. sara

    love them. Really love the leaves and shavings as opposed to the whole dang sprout. I have never tried them raw but I trust you. I will have to try this. Gorgeous pictures…again…of course.

  13. Laura Dembowski

    While I love good cooked Brussels sprouts, there’s nothing better than raw ones in a salad like this. Never thought to use a microplane though, that’s a great idea.

  14. thelittleloaf

    This looks absolutely delicious. I love Brussels Sprouts but don’t think I’ve ever had them raw. We’ve got friends over tonight and I’m going to make pork sliders with an adaptation of this as a kind of broccoli slaw. Yum!

  15. Cookie and Kate

    Last winter, I attempted to prepare brussels sprouts in every possible way, but I don’t think I tried anything quite like this. Giving this a go ASAP!

  16. Marina@Picnic at Marina

    Minus honey this is our favorite salad. Each year we can’t wait for Brussels sprouts season to begin so we can enjoy this heavenly delicious meal! And every evening during the season I shave those little baby “cabbages” with a knife, it’s like meditation to me… Funny part is that pecorino romano is my favorite cheese, and if I don’t have a chunk of it in my refrigerator I am having a panic attack! 🙂 (at least that’s what my husband says). I am glad I came here today, what a lovely place!

  17. Vanessa Larson

    Yum! This looks delicious!! I have never had raw brussels sprouts. What do they taste like? Could you use them in place of cabbage in other salads and slaws?

  18. wmbg

    raw brussels sprouts? i’ve never had but this salad sounds like a fresh and clean addition to any thanksgiving spread (filled with cream and butter!).

  19. Emily :

    This salad was super good! My husband especially loved it and I did too, which is pretty incredible since I used to hate brussels sprouts and now I’m eating them raw 🙂 Thanks for the recipe, I shared it in a recent meal plan on my blog