We've had a spectacular summer in my part of the world, but literally like a switch going off autumn screamed in right on the 1st of March, bringing with it cool, nippy mornings, gloomy days and chillier evenings. After a couple of weeks of decidedly autumnal weather, however, summer returned this weekend (hopefully for a few weeks to come) with clear blue skies and loads of sunshine.
Since recently moving back to Christchurch, I have of late been enjoying reacquainting myself with the local farmers market, and yesterday was the kind of day that makes it a real joy to venture out - the sun was shining, music played, all the stalls were flat out busy, and plenty of market goers were taking the opportunity to grab something to eat and enjoy "brunch" sitting in the sunshine on the river bank.
This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, we're going green and healthy, celebrating the spirit of St Patricks Day with our current IHCC guest chef, Ellie Krieger. I had picked up some brussels sprouts at the supermarket earlier in the week, and was thinking that Ellie's recipe for Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Hazelnuts and Dried Apricots from "Weeknight Wonders" seemed like a good jumping off point. The original recipe combines thinly shaved brussels sprouts with hazelnuts and dried apricots (probably obviously enough); however, I was really feeling the autumnal vibe and was thinking that fresh figs would be a great complement to the brussels sprouts. I had great hopes of finding fresh figs at the farmers market, but it seems I was a bit premature - no figs around yet.
I still liked the idea of incorporating figs though, so used some nice plump dried figs that I found, and actually I liked the slightly more "chewy" quality of the dried fruit with the shaved sprouts. Other changes I made were including a large handful of flat leaf parsley leaves ( I love to use the leaves whole like another salad green, rather than chopping them up), and because I wanted to turn this into a substantial meal for myself I also included some blue goats cheese and some beautiful big, fat, green Sicilian olives that I picked up at the farmers market. Rock melon too have been abundant of late, and with plenty of melon on hand to be used up I thought this too would work perfectly with the sprouts and figs, and would deliver the juicy succulence that I had been hoping for in fresh figs. I also tweaked the dressing a bit really just to suit ingredients that I had on hand.
Here is my version of Ellie's salad, given its "autumn makeover". Actually this was the first time I'd ever eaten brussels sprouts raw - won't be the last! This salad packed plenty of great flavours, and lots of interesting textures - certainly delivers enough on both fronts to potentially get this one past even those who claim to hate sprouts. I was very happy to make a meal out of this and would certainly make it again. The other great thing about this salad, unlike a lettuce salad, is that it's not going to go all "wilty" on you, making this perfect to pack up and take outdoors for a picnic or barbeque.
Shaved Sprout Salad with Figs & Hazelnuts Recipe
Inspired by recipe by Ellie Krieger
from Weeknight Wonders
Serves 1 as a substantial meal or
Serves 2 as a light meal or side dish
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
large handful of hazelnuts
8x brussels sprouts, washed and outer leaves removed
large handful flat leaf parsley leaves
3x plump dried figs, cut into thin strips
1/4 of a rock melon, skin and seeds removed and cut into cubes
large handful of Sicilian olives
approx 75g (2.5 oz) blue cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Place hazelnuts in a small dry frying pan, set over medium heat and toast, tosssing from time to time, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove pan from the heat, tip the nuts out onto a clean tea towel, wrap them up and rub vigorously to loosen the skins. Set nuts aside to cool.
Meanwhile, cut the sprouts in half lengthwise, remove the hard "core", and then with a very sharp knife cut them crosswise very thinly. Place the shave sprouts in a bowl along with the parley leaves, dried figs, cubed rock melon, crumbled blue cheese, green olives, and roughly chopped hazelnuts.
To make the dressing, place all ingredients into a small jug or bowl and whisk until well combined. Pour over salad ingredients and toss until everything is just coated with the dressing.
Serve and enjoy.
Note: As with so many of my recipes you don't need to be too fussy about quantities here, or even use all of these ingredients - just follow your instincts and your taste buds to come up with your own creationFor example try using:
broccoli instead of brussels sprouts
feta instead of blue cheese
cranberries instead of dried figs
orange or pink grapefruit instead of rock melon
almonds instead of hazelnuts
The possibilities are limitless - just use your imagination
If you would like to get to know Ellie Krieger a little better, and to see all the wonderful "Green Eating" dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.
I'll also be sharing this post this week at Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays hosted by my lovely friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen, and at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.