Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Inspired Winter Salad

My little garden is a constant source of inspiration for the dinner table at our house. Being able to watch my food grow has made seasonal produce take on a whole new meaning. I grew my own tomatoes last year and the intense aroma of fruit ripening on the vine, still glistening with early morning dew, is absolutely incomparable to the 'fresh' product available in supermarkets.

The unfortunate reality is that people want their food to be perfect in shape and completely blemish-free, which leads to large supermarket chains buying food that stores and travels well. Just take a look at the rock-hard and under-ripe peaches, and watery, white strawberries when you see them in the shops next and you'll know what I mean. It's great if you want a salad bowl full of fruit on display for three weeks but not so great if you're after real flavour.

Andrew Swallow, graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (the college of my dreams) and author of 'Mixt Salads' (a vibrant book jammed with seasonal salad recipes, some beautiful photography, tips on how to eat sustainably and create your own exciting salads!) inspired me to put a winter salad together.

I combined Brussels sprouts, crisp white icicle radish (I buy my seeds from Digger's Club) and smoked speck that I pan-fried until crunchy and caramelised with a horseradish dressing and some European yoghurt. Let's be honest, what doesn't taste better with smoked speck in it? I really love the sharp, zingy flavour of yoghurt here too as I think it works well with the bite of horseradish. The dressing is light and creamy, slightly sweet but mainly acidic.

Winter Brussels Sprout Salad

58 g Brussels sprouts, leaves only
21 g white icicle radish, peeled and sliced paper-thin
30 g smoked speck, rind removed
30 g European style yoghurt
Separate the Brussels sprout leaves by cutting off the stem and pulling it apart layer by layer.
Cut the inner core into quarters.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil.
Blanch Brussels sprout leaves into water until just cooked.
Remove and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process.
Drain and dry the leaves.
Slice the speck into thin, bite-sized pieces.
Pan-fry until crispy.
Reserve the rendered fat for the dressing.
Toss together the Brussels sprout leaves, icicle radish and smoked speck.
Transfer onto a plate and dot around small amounts of yoghurt.

Horseradish Dressing
3 g horseradish cream
3 g light agave syrup
7 g apple cider vinegar
1 g smoked speck fat
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Add a small pinch of salt and taste.
Drizzle over the salad.


  1. Love how the Brussels sprouts look like mini-iceberg lettuce or mini-cabbage leaves. Either that, or that's supersized speck!

  2. A gorgeous looking salad. I lovelovelove brussel sprouts, especially with bacon or speck. Radish and yoghurt are such complementary palate cleansers too.

  3. you just can't go wrong with bacon! i <3 yoghurt, yoghurt cake, yoghurt sorbet, yoghurt salad dressing, yoghurt with herbs and cous cous, yoghurt over a long, slow braise, oh oh and yoghurt with honey and pepitas.. that's pretty awesome.. :P*

  4. awsome! love the idea of growing your own produce.

  5. I love the idea of using brussel sprouts as lettuce. I think I'd probably use carrots instead of radishes, but this still sounds delicious. I always miss interesting salads in the winter!


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