… so back to California and all that glorious food. Well before that, I must mention that whilst we were very fortunate to have travelled to California we were there during a period where they had the worst weather since 1923! Now. Whilst I understand that poor California is in desperate need for water all I ask is that it could have just waited for one more week and we could have enjoyed just a little sunshine… perhaps. I think we had 3 days of pure sunshine. 2 days of cloudy sunshine and the rest either overcast or out and out rain. Of course this didn’t stop our plans, in fact it made us explore a little more in depth some places we thought we knew well but it’s a long way to travel for grey skies. Of course one of the things that the rain is good for is growing crops and whilst driving down Highway One I exclaimed to The Viking that I was sure the vegetables growing in the fields we’d just passed were Brussels Sprouts. They are quite unmistakable with their tall stalks covered in a spiral of micro-cabbage bulbs. We have them growing in the fields in Lincolnshire but i’ve never seen anything like the rows and rows of single crops of Brussels Sprouts… and if the menus up and down the state have anything to go by I can understand why. Brussels Sprouts are everywhere and we loved it. It was a little unusual seeing that we’d just come from the back end of Christmas but it was more than welcome. I’ve always been a lover of sprouts and I actually like them in their natural form, quite simple with lashings of salty butter but then i’m a cabbage fan, in all its forms. So serve it up I say, play with it all ways I say… just gimme those pale green globes of love…
brussels sprouts caesar salad with lemon thyme
so there are of course a million recipes for the humble caesar salad dressing out there in internet land. From the original classic with Worcester sauce but no anchovies, to the modern take with anchovies and mayonnaise… you can leisurely read all about them in this brilliant Felicity Cloake article from The Guardian which pretty much covers every aspect and recipe there is. I’ve gone for a riff on her final recipe but without the anchovies for vegetarian reasons and quite frankly i’ve still made a stonker of a Caesar dressing, replacing the saltiness from the ‘crushed anchovy’ with parmesan but i’ve also added salt and fresh lemon thyme whilst crushing my garlic cloves. The lemon thyme is a simply sublime addition (if you don’t have any, grow some and come back in 6 months) so i’d try and include it if you can, it makes all the difference.
… a little note on cooking your sprouts – I have instructed to blanche your sprouts in salted boiled water for 5 mins. I like my sprouts crunchy because I want this to feel like a classic caesar salad and you’re replacing the crunchy cos so it needs to have bite … but you may want them a little softer so feel free to boil or steam them for as long as you like, just don’t go for soft, try and take them out of the heat at al dente…
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves
- 150ml olive oil
- 4 slices of day-old white bread
- 350g Brussels Sprouts – trimmed and cut as below
- 1 egg yolk
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- Large handful of finely grated parmesan
Start by boiling a kettle, then trim your brussels and cut half of them in half and the rest into quarters and place them into a pan. Once the kettle has boiled pour the water over the sprouts, sprinkle on a little salt and set aside for at least 5 minutes. Once you’re happy with the ‘bite’ of your Brussels, take them out of the boiling water and plunge them into iced water and set aside
Crush the garlic with a teaspoon of salt and the fresh lemon thyme until you have a salty, lemony paste, then and add it to the oil. Leave to infuse for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 200C and cut the bread into rough crouton-sized cubes. Toss with a little of the oil to coat, and then bake for about 15 minutes until golden and crisp – set aside.
add a tablespoon of grated parmesan to a large salad bowl, then using a balloon whisk, beat in the yolk, and gradually the rest of the garlic-infused oil until you have a thickish dressing. Stir in the lemon juice and a 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise until you have a sweet, creamy sauce.
Now you’re ready to assemble your salad, drain the sprouts well and throw them into the bowl with the dressing, get you hands stuck in and toss them through the sauce, pulling off some of the outer leaves of the sprouts and leaving them loose in the bowl
add the croutons and some fresh parmesan shavings – and even some avocado if you like, and then you’re ready to serve…
eat and of course, enjoy!