Pretty Green Brussels Sprout Slaw for #LetsLunch

Brussels sprouts are delicious raw, when thinly shaved and mixed with lemon, toasted walnuts and pecorino romano in this wintry slaw.

Summer won’t be here for months according to the calendar, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait until July to break out our cole slaw recipes. Cabbage is the perfect vegetable to bridge the winter-to-spring divide with its crisp texture and earthy, slightly sweet flavor.

Since heavy, creamy cole slaw doesn’t appeal to me most of the time, I was thrilled to discover some healthier and tangier slaws that hold the mayo. I developed a slew of healthy ethnic slaws for Relish Magazine, but one of my favorites is this one made with pale green baby Brussels sprouts.

Cabbage and the other cruciferous vegetables all share a subtle sweetness and can star in a range of creative salads and slaws. Cabbage is delicious raw and adds a crunchy component to any meal. Treat it like you would any lettuce: chop up the cabbage of your choice, drizzle it with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, cilantro and minced garlic if you dare to make a fresh and light slaw.

This slaw makes a great side dish or even a main meal with the addition of some grilled chicken, fish or shrimp.

Look for: With red or green cabbage, choose one that feels solid with smooth, well-formed leaves. Napa cabbage should look fresh and green. Brussels sprouts should be small with tight heads that are free of yellow leaves.

The facts: Just one cup of cabbage has just 17 calories and is loaded with good stuff including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Bonus Points: The entire cabbage family is powerful cancer fighters; it contains 11 of the 15 plant chemicals know to fight cancer, according to the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Who knew these beautiful, pale green and gold rosettes were hiding inside Brussels sprouts?

Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino and Walnuts
This simple Brussels sprout salad is based on a recipe created by Jonathan Waxman; a similar dish is a popular item on the menu at Gottino in New York City. Leaving the Brussels sprouts raw allows their natural sweetness to emerge.

1-1/2 lbs small Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and crushed
3 Tbs. large grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Using a mandoline or adjustable blade slicer, slice the Brussels sprouts into thin disks. Toss lightly to separate the layers. Add the walnuts and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Whisk olive oil and lemon juice together and drizzle over the Brussels sprout mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 cups

Adapted from Jonathan Waxman, author of A Great American Cook, Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

Red Walnuts: The Unofficial Sweet-Heart Nut of Valentine’s Day

Livermore red walnuts grown here in California are a striking shade of magenta, as well as being delicious.

I love going to farmer’s markets. Even if my refrigerator is full, I love their energy and the chance discoveries.

My latest revelation is the Red Walnut – a really purplish, magenta colored version of the familiar tan nut. The ones I bought were fresh from Terra Bella Ranch in northern San Diego County, so they had a wonderful light and sweet nutty flavor. But what really sold me was the color.

A little sign explained that the nuts are the Livermore variety and said they hailed from England originally. But I did some research and tracked down the US Patent application that was filed by the University of California at Davis, where the Robert Livermore walnut was developed. The Livermore is a cross between a purple walnut variety and the standard Howard walnut. Robert Livermore was a supporter of the university’s programs and with having the unusual new walnut named for him.

Check out Terra Bella Ranch’s Facebook page to learn where to find them. Or if you live in a climate where walnut trees thrive, you can order your own Livermore red walnut tree from Dave Wilson Nursery.

Since most of the good phenolic acids, tannins and flavonoids in a walnut is in the skin or pellicule, it’s not hard to believe that the red walnut has some unique nutrients that aren’t found in the tan walnut. According to the walnut entry on World’s Healthiest Foods, Walnuts are a great source of gamma-tocopherol, a rather rare form of Vitamin E that has been shown to have very positive role in reducing heart disease risk. With that and other beneficial properties, is why I’m naming walnuts the sweet-heart nut of Valentine’s Day.

In case you’re wondering what to do with walnuts besides eat them, I’ve put together a collection of delicious walnut recipes on Foodily.