Credit: Earl Carter

Roasted and raw brussels sprout salad with anchovy

David Moyle is a chef. He is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Earl Carter

They used to be the vegetable of children’s nightmares, and probably still are. But the once-hated brussels sprout has become elevated of late. It’s from the same family as kale, and I can see it becoming similarly popular. Whereas kale got cool from its use in smoothies, brussels sprouts have become a popular table decoration. When used in their entirety on the stem, they look incredible and always draw comments from people intrigued as to how they grow.

Like any living table decoration, the brussels sprout plant wilts over time and its colour fades. I’m here to ask that we eat our table centrepieces long before they end up in the garbage.

My go-to move to take most foods to flavour town is to add anchovy. But the subtle crunch and mustard-like flavour of the raw sprout seems to be what wins most people over.

Tread carefully with those who are cynical of the sprout. Start with small quantities dressed lightly on the side of other dishes, then eventually build up to entire plates as a single course.

Anyone can heavily roast a vegetable in butter then add cheese and declare it delicious. Don’t fall into that trap. It’s the delicate hand of restraint that makes dishes truly interesting.


Serves 4

  • 500g brussels sprouts
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 50g butter
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 50g good-quality anchovies
  • lemon juice
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 cup picked parsley
  • 1 grapefruit (ruby grapefruit is best as it tends to be sweeter)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  1. Peel the outer leaves from the sprouts by using a paring knife to cut the stem down as you pull each leaf off until the darker leaves are gone and the centre is left. Toss the leaves in a bowl with some olive oil before spreading them on a flat roasting tray and baking them at 160ºC for 15-20 minutes or until they go golden brown. Season lightly then set aside.
  2. Cut half of the sprout hearts down the centre and place them onto a roasting tray with the butter and bake at 180ºC for about 30 minutes or until they are mahogany brown and soft in the centre. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese as you remove them from the oven, then tip them into a bowl to come back to room temperature. Once cooled, add the anchovies and crush it all together with the back of a fork or a sturdy whisk and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Shave the remaining sprouts very finely using a mandolin or a very sharp knife if you are supremely confident. Place them into a bowl and fluff them out using your fingertips (this part is effectively a “slaw” so the finer the better). Slice the shallots and the parsley equally as fine and add to the sprouts.
  4. Segment the grapefruit by slicing off the top and the tail of the fruit before setting it cut-side down on a cutting board. Follow the curve of the fruit with your knife to remove both the skin and the pith in one, but don’t fret as you can go back and remove any extra pith once you have worked the skin off. (Keep the zest or outer peel; it’s great for other uses.) Now pick the fruit up and cradle it in your hand over a bowl. Using a small blade, follow the line of the segments on both sides until each segment pops out. The bowl underneath should contain the segments and any juice that has run free during the process. Remove 20 millilitres of this juice into a separate bowl and add 40 millilitres of olive oil, the mustard and more salt and pepper. Whisk until combined then add the dressing to the bowl of “slaw” until it is adequately dressed. Fold the grapefruit segments through.
  5. Place an amount of the roasted and crushed sprouts into a shallow bowl. Fluff up the slaw and drape this over the top. Finish with the roasted leaves and a little more olive oil.
  6. Best served as either a starter for a meal or as a side dish.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 17, 2019 as "Sprout of flavour".

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