Raw Faith

A new approach to brussels sprouts amps up the flavor and eliminates the mush.

By Deena Prichep November 17, 2010 Published in the December 2010 issue of Portland Monthly

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Brussels Sprouts and Sunchoke salad

Most of us reviled brussels sprouts as children after our parents boiled the bejeezus out of them, leaving behind a sodden, sulfury mush. If we’ve grown to love them as adults, it’s because we’ve learned how to caramelize their copious sugars with a good roasting, playing the deep sweetness against the hint of bitter. But chef Jason Barwikowski at Olympic Provisions has taken the sprouts down a surprising new path: he serves them raw, peeling the leaves off and hashing them into long slivers, tossing in crunchy shavings of raw sunchokes, accenting the pairing with meaty Castelvetrano olives, and dressing it all with a punchy paste of garlic, lemon, and anchovies. For believers and nonbelievers alike, this is the new gospel of brussels sprouts.

Although Barwikowski favors small, sweet sprouts for the bulk of the salad, he slices in a few larger ones for their peppery, fusty notes. The dish is an exercise in balance. “Sunchokes have such a clean, refreshing flavor when they’re raw; then there’s the richness of the olives.” Add in the pungent dressing, and, Barwikowski says, “it all works. Kind of salty, kind of bitter, kind of bright, and kind of fatty at the same time.” The dish is a labor of love, from cleaning and peeling the knotty sunchokes to shaving the vegetables immediately before serving to preserve their crispness, and, if you’re up for it, emulsifying the dressing by hand with a mortar and pestle. But the reward of these efforts is significant, with the power to forever erase those painful childhood brussels sprouts memories. 

Brussels Sprouts and Sunchoke Salad

 (Serves 4-6)

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6–8 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • Kosher sea salt
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup good-quality olive oil 
  • Ground pepper 
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, washed and drained 
  • 1 lb Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), peeled
  • 2 cups pitted Castelvetrano olives
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Mandoline

(1) Place the garlic and anchovy fillets in a large mortar. 
(2) Add a touch of sea salt and work into a thick, homogeneous paste. 
(3) Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, and stir to mix. 
(4) Add olive oil slowly, in a thin, steady stream, reserving one tablespoon for the vegetables. 
(5) Season mixture with several grinds of fresh pepper, and set aside. 
(This can also be made in a food processor, following the same steps.)

(1) Remove the outermost leaves from each sprout, also discarding any battered, tough, or otherwise unfit examples. 
(2) Peel off the next few layers of each sprout and place these leaves in a bowl. 
(3) Using a mandoline, shave the rest of each sprout into the bowl. 
(4) Use the mandoline to slice sunchokes into the bowl. 
(5) Squeeze remaining lemon juice and add 1 tbsp olive oil, some salt, several grindings of pepper, the dressing, and the pitted olives into the bowl of sprouts and sunchokes, and toss together.

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