Dining at a favorite local restaurant, my grilled fish arrived with a light and fluffy vegetable side dish. It turned out to be little green ribbons of sliced Brussels sprouts. I had never seen Brussels sprouts sliced or shaved into thin ribbons before. It was brilliant. Shaved Brussels sprouts are a great way to enjoy this healthy, cruciferous vegetable.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts
Shaved Brussels sprouts are easy to make. Because they are thinly sliced, they cook quickly, making for a fast vegetable side dish to accompany roast chicken or fish. I’ll often roast or steam Brussels sprouts, but shaving or slicing them is a nice change of pace.
For this recipe I’ve used just a little pancetta to add another layer of flavor. Pancetta is Italian bacon, cured with salt and spices but not smoked, as is American bacon. It’s salty, so watch the addition of any salt to season this dish. If you opt for using bacon, buy the uncured, nitrate-free style, either pork or turkey, your preference.
Sometimes I’ll make this vegan style, using simply olive oil, skipping the pancetta or bacon. It’s delicious both ways.
Brussels Sprouts Purchasing and Prep
When buying, choose Brussels sprouts that are firm and bright green with no yellow edges on the leaves. They come both loose and on the stalk. If loose, I choose large ones for this recipe.
To slice Brussels sprouts I use either a 7” Santoku or a chefs knife. While I use a mandoline for some things, here I find it’s just as easy with a good knife. It’s also one less thing to clean and good knife skills practice. I go for slices about ¼” (.6 cm) thick.
Next, hold the sprout flat on the cutting board by the root end and slice them crosswise into thin ribbons about ¼” (about .6 cm) thick. Discard the root ends. The thin slices will separate into ribbons with some pieces staying intact. Do the same with your shallots. Not familiar with shallots? You must try cooking with them.
Common in French cooking, shallots are a mild, sweet member of the onion family. Shallots are shaped like a large clove of garlic with a brownish colored papery outer skin. When peeled, the flesh is ivory with a purplish hue. First peel the papery skin off of the shallots, then slice them crosswise into thin rings. Separate the rings.
When buying shallots, they should be plump and firm, not wrinkled or sprouting. Keep them in a cool, dry pantry, next to your onions. You can use shallots in many recipes in place of onions, and a little bit of finely diced shallot gives nice flavor to vinaigrettes.
To cook your Brussels sprouts, heat olive oil in a large fry or sauté pan over medium-low heat and briefly cook the thinly sliced shallot and garlic. Add your Brussels sprouts and stir, cooking until they are soft, wilted and tender to taste. As the sprouts cook they will release moisture and shrink down. Season them up with salt and pepper. Be careful of extra salt if you are using pancetta or bacon.
If you’d like sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley or one a little fresh oregano. For a little crunch, add toasted pine nuts, toasted slivered almonds or toasted pumpkin seeds.
Nutrition Notes – Why Brussels Sprouts are Good For You
Brussels sprouts are full of vitamins, fiber and disease-fighting phytonutrients. An excellent source of vitamin’s K (anti-inflammatory) and C (antioxidant), many studies have shown that eating Brussels sprouts may lower your cancer risk. For more information on nutrition read this article.
Warm Shaved Brussel Sprouts
- 2 ounces pancetta 57 grams, optional, or two slices or uncured, nitrate-free bacon
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil start with one
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh large Brussels sprouts 680 grams
- 2 shallots
- 3 garlic cloves chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley or oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh lemon zest optional
- Prep work – Holding the root end of the Brussels sprout, lay it flat on your cutting surface and slice crosswise into thin rings, about 1/4″ or .6 cm wide. Discard the root end. Do the same with the shallots. Remove the papery skin and slice crosswise into thin rings. Separate the rings.
- If using pancetta, cut into small cubes. If using bacon, cut crosswise into small pieces. Heat a large saute or fry pan over medium-low heat and cook the pancetta until the fat renders out and the cubes are crisp and golden. Drain the cooked pancetta on layers of paper towels. Wipe the pan out with paper towels as well.
- In the pan, heat the olive oil over medium to medium-low heat. Add the shallot rings and cook briefly to soften. Add the garlic and cook another 1 minute. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan. Cooking, stirring gently and sort of folding them over each over to coat with the oil. Using a wooden spatula works well. As the sprouts cook they release moisture and begin to cook down in the pan. If they seem a little dry, add just another small drizzle of olive oil. When they are nicely wilted and tender to taste, season if needed with salt and pepper. Stir in your pancetta, herbs or nuts if using. Optionally, grate fresh lemon zest over the top. Serve warm.