‘Tis the season for holiday travel, when “grabbing a quick bite” turns hazardous: anemic airport sandwiches, shrink-wrapped mid-flight snack boxes, greasy fast food. As if the indignities of modern air travel weren’t enough already, I get the distinct feeling that somebody’s trying to poison the American populace. (But who is it, exactly? Sysco Foods? The FAA? TSA? This thing might go all the way to the top!)
So this year, why not pack your own lunch? This brussels sprouts slaw is infinitely tastier (not to mention healthier) than anything you’ll find at the airport, packs well, and it’s conveniently delicious at room temperature. Dressed in a mustardy vinaigrette, with bright bits of cranberries, toasty pecans and bacon, the sprouts take on a hearty, nutty warmth. (No boiled-to-death, pungent little cabbages here. It’s a new era for the much-maligned sprout.) Make a turkey sandwich, roast some hunks of sweet potatoes or grab some fruit and you’ll be the utter envy of the standby crowd.
If you have a slicer blade for your food processor, it’ll make quick work of shredding the sprouts; I lost that little plastic thingy that fits inside my Cuisinart, so I had to shred by hand. (That sounds a lot more arduous than it actually was, thankfully.) Look for smaller, brightly-hued sprouts at the market, which will have a sweeter flavor.
Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go!
- 1 lb brussels sprouts, small and bright green
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon or 4 slices pancetta, diced
- 1/4 C dried cranberries
- 3/4 C pecan halves
- 2 Tbsp grainy mustard
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and trim off the knobby root part from the brussels sprouts. With the slicer blade in place in your food processor, shred the brussels. (Alternatively, cut each in half and slice into fine ribbons by hand.)
On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the pecans in the oven until fragrant, about 5-7 minutes. Roughly chop and set aside.
Make the dressing: in a medium bowl, whisk the mustard, brown sugar, cider vinegar and salt. Add the olive oil, whisking to combine. Set aside.
In a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat, cook the pancetta or bacon until crisp and most of the fat has rendered out, about five minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and drain on a small paper towel-lined plate. Add the sprouts, stirring to coat in the fat. Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Cook the sprouts over high-medium, until bright green and just wilted and browned in parts, about 5-8 minutes.
Dress the slaw and add the toasted pecans, bacon and cranberries. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. The salad is tasty warm or at room temperature and will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.