Amid the gray doldrums of this winter freeze, I was inspired to make this fresh and vibrant salad of raw brussel sprouts, pecorino, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil.
Raw brussel sprouts do not sound particularly appetizing, I have to admit. But, I was intrigued by the recipe.
Slicing the brussel sprouts thin, as Jess recommends, has the effect of removing some of the toughness and chewiness of their tiny leaves. Yet, even when sliced, those thin strands of green are so resilient they can still stand up to the richness of the olive oil and cheese.
I couldn't access good pecorino, so I used ricotta salata, which I think was an appropriate substitute -- bearing the necessary twin qualities of saltiness and crumbliness.
To make the salad, I thinly sliced six to eight ounces of raw brussel sprouts (this was about two thirds of the container they were sold in). Next, I combined the chopped sprouts with the juice of one meyer lemon, extra virgin olive oil, followed by salt and freshly ground black pepper. I crumbled thin slices of the cheese between my fingers before tossing it with the brussel sprouts.
The salad would probably go with just about anything, and could even be a meal in itself along with some good crusty bread. It made a fine accompaniment to salmon fillets with leeks and carrots en papillote and couscous with wild mushrooms.
N.B.: I was so enthusiastic about this salad that I tried making a variation substituting radicchio for the brussel sprouts. This was great too, though I found the radicchio wilted more than the brussel sprouts. You also have to love the bitter flavor of radicchio (as I do) to enjoy this version. The rustic salad served as a refreshing counterpoint to a partially pan-fried (then oven roasted) hanger steak.
1. Winter Restaurant Week, three-course lunches for $20.12 and three-course dinners for $35.00 (beverage, tax and gratuity additional) at participating New York restaurants. The promotion continues through Friday, February 4.
2. Hudson Restaurant Week, three-course lunches for $15.05 and three-course dinners for $30.05 (excluding tax, tip, beverages) at participating Hudson County, New Jersey restaurants. The promotion continues through Friday, February 4.
3. The Schwartz Who Ate New York, the "Food Maven" speaks about New York's culinary history, Thursday, February 3, 8:00 p.m., at the 92nd Street Y, 92nd Street at Lexington Avenue. $25/person (212.415.5500).
4. Biannual Cookbook and Culinary Tag Sale, Saturday, February 5, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at The James Beard House, 167 West 12th Street.
5. Great Chateauneuf-du-Pape with Robert M. Parker, Jr., here's your chance to chat wine with the master critic, Tuesday, February 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Warwick Hotel, West 54th & 6th Ave. $525/person (800.404.WINE).
6. Wines for Chocolate, tasting featuring wines paired with chocolate, Tuesday, February 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Merchant's House Museum, 29 East Fourth Street. $40/person, $75/two, reservations and prepayment required (212.777.1089).
7. Beacon's Fifth Annual Beefsteak, all-you-can-eat steak, Tuesday, February 8, at Beacon Restaurant, 25 West 56th Street. The gluttony begins at 6:30 p.m. $95/person, reservations required (212.332.0500).
1. Have You Eaten Yet? The Chinese Restaurant in America, an exhibit exploring the Chinese restaurant’s origin and growth in America and its cultural significance, at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas (70 Mulberry Street, 2nd Floor). The exhibit continues through June 2005. Suggested admission is $3 (212.619.4785).
2. Cookin': A Sizzling Entertainment, "a fast-paced kitchen percussion show combining comedy, rhythm, and non-verbal performance," at the Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane (212.420.8000).
Star Hill Dairy, located in Woodstock, Vermont, is one of only a handful of cheese-makers to produce buffalo milk mozzarella on American soil (another is Southern California-based Bubalus Bubalis). While Star Hill Dairy has received acclaim for its stateside bufala, it also makes a fantastic line of water buffalo milk yogurts.
Though the idea of eating cheese made from water buffalo milk will be a natural to anyone who has savored the perfection of an insalata caprese, buffalo milk yogurt might sound strange at first. But, after tasting Star Hill Dairy's product, you may never go back the moo milk variety. The biggest difference from cow's milk yogurt is not so much its flavor than its texture. The rich, dense, exceedingly creamy yogurt is so thick you could probably cut it with a knife (or even hold it upside down, if you are so inclined). The consistency is closest to Total, the great Greek strained yogurt.
According to Star Hill Dairy's Web site, Buffalo milk's health benefits include higher protein and calcium levels than cow's milk, not to mention lower cholesterol. The yogurt is not low in fat, however. A six ounce container contains a whopping 10 grams of fat, accounting for 93 of the yogurt's 206 total calories.
Photo: Star Hill Dairy.