This brussels salad came together by accident, really. And it kind of caused an accident, too, but I’ll tell you about that later!
I’ve been a little obsessed with kumquats lately. Cute citrus fruit, really odd name. These olive sized mini orange imposters are like a flavor punch to the face. In a good way. There’s something about their distinct combination of sweet and sour that I just love.
Last week I made my pork belly carnitas and I threw a few slices of kumquats into the mix to top our lettuce cups and guacamole. Because they’re so vibrant and refreshing, they go beautifully with anything fatty, cutting through the creaminess of avocado or the richness of pork belly in a way that keeps your mouth begging for more. I’d whipped up a quick side salad with finely sliced brussels and red onion and the simple combination was something I enjoyed so much, I promised myself I’d make it on purpose next time!
So that was how I came up with this combination of a brussels salad with avocado, red onion and kumquats. When it comes to dressings, I’ll admit I can be a little lazy. If I’m whipping up a side salad for dinner on the fly, I’ll often just opt for a drizzle of olive oil and a little squeeze of fresh lemon, but I wanted something with a little more umami to stand up to the shaved brussels and soften them a little. I remembered an anchovy herb based dressing I whipped up for the Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Leek Purée recipe in Nourish and tinkered with it a little to make it the perfect get-in-my-faaaaace boost of flavor to do battle with the mighty brassicas in this salad.
Now, don’t go freaking out at the words “anchovy dressing”. Because a few fillets in a dressing does not a fishy breath bomb make. They add a lovely savory flavor that balances out the sourness of lemon juice and the slight grassiness of the olive oil, while giving enough umami to bring a little oomph to the fresh mint I added to the mix. These are all good things. Trust.
Now back to that accident I was going to tell you about. Mr Meatified is not a fan of my mandolin and routinely worries that I’m somehow going to cut off my fingers while using it. And I, of course, have spent years rolling my eyes at him because, really, I know what I’m doing. Duh. I reluctantly don the cut proof gloves he insisted on buying for me, thinking that I don’t really need them. Well, it turns out: I do. Because the ONE TIME I got them out of their drawer and forgot to actually put them on before shaving brussels salad ingredients… yup, that’s the one time I managed to slice right through my nail into the nail bed of my finger. Despite the fact that the aforementioned cut proof gloves were RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Yeah. Mr Meatified is gonna be so annoyingly smug about this. Once he’s stopped freaking out about me nearly losing a digit, of course.
So, a little public safety alert: if you’re going to use a mandolin, please, pretty please, be careful. Don’t be like me. Because, guess what? Fingers don’t like getting mandolin’d. Nor does my ego. Ouch. These are the cut proof gloves I use. You know, when I remember them. Sigh.
Anywho. Enough about me. Make this brussels salad. It’s basically a bright, shiny coleslaw with lots of crunch that fools people into eating their greens without realizing it. I’m like the Veggie Whisperer. Or something. You can make the dressing and prep the veggies (sans avocado) well ahead of time and you can even leave the marinated brussels salad in the fridge for a few hours while you either prep other food or just hang out on your porch sipping iced tea. All the acidity and brightness from the dressing helps mellow out the raw onion and the brussels are robust enough to keep their crunch, unlike those soggy lettuce based salads of the past. All you need to do is add your avocado just before serving. Ta da!
Can’t find any kumquats? Never fear! Sometimes they’re just not around or even in season, so try substituting grapefruit segments for a juicy-sour pop of color and brightness, instead.
This recipe was shared in the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable!
- 1 lb / 454 g brussels sprouts
- ¼ of a small red onion
- 9 - 10 kumquats
- 1 medium avocado
- SLICE: Trim the brussels stems and discard any loose or dirty outer leaves. Use a mandolin to CAREFULLY slice the brussels thinly, about 1 mm thick, then add them to a mixing bowl. Adjust the height of the mandolin blade so that it cuts slightly thinner and finely slice the onion into translucent half moons. Add them to the mixing bowl. Cut the end from the kumquats then use a knife to slice them thinly, using the tip of the knife to work out and discard any seeds. Add the sliced kumquats to the mixing bowl.
- EMULSIFY: Combine all the dressing ingredients together. You can either whisk them together in a bowl to combine the oil and lemon juice or be like me and throw everything into a mini food processor to do this for you!
- ASSEMBLE: Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss together until everything is evenly coated. Taste and add sea salt, if needed. You can serve this straight away or marinate it for a few hours to mellow out the onions and soften the brussels a little. Whichever you choose, don't forget the avocado! Cut the avocado in half, discard the pit and scoop out the avocado flesh, then slice each half finely and add to the salad just before serving.
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