Brussels Sprouts Salad – A Tale of Two Salads

Several times since I’ve started working my way though these recipes I’ve considered making small changes. For example, using store bought chicken broth instead of spending the time to make my own, or using dried herbs instead of fresh. But for me, the whole point of what I’m doing is to make Granny’s recipes EXACTLY as Granny would have. So I have resisted the urge to improvise.
This changed when I began preparing this dish. Granny’s recipe card says to boil the brussels sprouts until tender and crisp (can something even be both??). For me, brussels sprouts were an acquired taste and I worked for a very long time to like them. Now I love brussels sprouts, but they have to be accompanied by some kind of bacon or maple or buttery flavor, or preferably all three. Boiling them just really did not appeal to me. So I decided to make half of the sprouts exactly as Granny would have (Team Boiled), and half the way I would – sautéed in bacon fat (Team Bacon).
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Team Boiled on Left, Team Bacon on Right
Now I have to admit, boiling the sprouts was much easier than cooking bacon then sautéing them in the fat (point for Team Boiled). However, the sprouts sautéed in bacon filled my house with that delicious breakfasty bacon smell (point for Team Bacon).
Once the sprouts were cooked, I followed the recipe exactly for both versions, except that I added the chopped bacon into the sautéed sprouts (point for Team Bacon). I used the same dressing over both of the dishes. And the results may surprise you, because they certainly surprised me.
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Final thoughts:
  • I used 1/2 or maybe 2/3 of the dressing – I saved the extra, but did not need it. Also, the recipe calls for serving this cold, but I tasted it hot and cold, and in my opinion, hot was significantly better.
  • These two dishes taste remarkably different from one another. One has a freshness to it (Team Boiled) where one feels very rustic (Team Bacon). However, I don’t know if one of them is better than the other. Both are delicious (point for both teams? I wish the judges had laid out the ground rules for this little duel more clearly).
  • The dressing flavor might work slightly better with the boiled sprouts and I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why that is (point for Team Boiled).
  • I am SHOCKED to learn that I really like these boiled sprouts! I actually don’t know which I would rather make again…maybe it will depend on what I’m serving as the main course.
  • Are you wondering who won this little sprout-off? Upon tallying the points, it’s a tie. As someone who loves competition, this annoys me.  I wish I had a better answer for you, but the good news is that there is a sprout salad for everyone! Vegetarian? Paleo? The world is your brussels sprout oyster!
Let us know if you make either version, and which you would prefer! Help me declare a winner!

Here is everything I used:

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Brussels Sprouts Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

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Prep Time: 10 minutes. Total Time: 30 minutes. Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Dressing:
    • 1/2 c olive oil
    • 1/4 c white wine vinegar
    • 1 t dijon mustard
    • 1 t Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1/2 t dried basil
    • 1/4 t dried thyme
    • 1/4 t fresh ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 lbs small fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (5 cups)
  • 1 jar (4 oz) sliced pimentos, drained
  • 1/3 c minced green onions
Instructions:
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients. Cook sprouts uncovered in enough boiling water to cover, 7 minutes or until crisp tender. (I also sautéed Team Bacon in bacon fat for about 10 minutes.) Drain sprouts and plunge into ice water, then drain again.
  • Stir dressing, add sprouts, pimento, and green onion (and crumbled bacon, if you are on Team Bacon). Toss to coat.
  • Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. (I disagree with this step. Serve this as a hot dish.)
Team Bacon Pin 2
Team Boiled 2