When I had the original version of this at Frankies 17, I couldn’t believe what I was eating. Steven pointed out that it seemed like something I would make. And it’s true, though it’s taken me a while to co-opt it for my repertoire. Like the raw kale (thanks, Carla) and celery salads I’ve been obsessed with this winter, this is nothing more than brussels sprouts, shaved into thin, thin ribbons, generously dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. In the Frankies iteration, there’s also some crumbled, soft Castelrosso cheese, which serves as both a lovely, meltingly luxurious counterpoint to the zippy dressing and as ligature for the otherwise discrete bits of sprout. I used something young and squishy from Cato Corner instead and added some almonds (I recall some nuts in the Frankies version, but can’t remember what kind and could be making that up).
There are few dishes I eat at restaurants that (the dishes, not the restaurants) are able to defy my crap memory, but the brussels sprout salad is one, and another also happens to feature the petit chou: Momofuku Ssam‘s deep-fried brussels sprouts with rice krispies and fish sauce. When they’re on — on the rare occasion, they can be underdressed or soggy — they are transcendent.
Brussels sprouts. Is it their homeliness that just begs for transformation? Or are they just demurely covering up some innate vegetable magnetism? Questions for the ages.