Ever since renowned Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme blackened his first redfish in the 1980s, you would think that all South Louisiana folks burn just about everything they cook. Not so. But just go to any wanna-be Cajun restaurant outside of Louisiana and you’ll see a menu full of these overdone dishes. Enough already. Or well, wait. Maybe one more – Blackened Brussels Salad.
Follow me here. If you’re like me, I’ve never met a Brussels sprout that I liked. Just a whiff of those little stink bombs boiling in a pot sends me running for the door. But, what the process of blackening the surface of a Brussels sprout does to the flavor of this vegetable is nothing short of miraculous. What I recall years ago to be tasteless, waterlogged little cabbages are magically transformed into crispy, bronzed flavor bombs delivering a wallop of vibrant savoriness.
My Blackened Brussels Salad could be the perfect salad. That’s a lot to say, but it bears repeating–this is salad perfection. If charring the Brussels weren’t enough to deliver a nutty oomph to the heart of this dish, I am combining it with fresh raw kale and crisp, smoky bacon. Yeah, bacon. Now, I have your attention. Right?
Rounding out the zing and zest of this Blackened Brussels Salad are little cubes of pepper jack cheese for a tart surprise and toasted almonds along with fried garlic for a crown of crispness. The lemon-based dressing gets a counterbalance of Creole mustard for a jolt of Louisiana flavor. This Cajun recipe is superb as a side accompaniment or as a centerpiece salad entrée.
Blacken away. Try this Blackened Brussels Salad and I guarantee you’ll fall head over heels in love with Brussels.
- 1 pound thick-cut, smoked bacon, chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups fresh Brussels sprouts, stemmed and halved lengthwise
- 4 cups chopped fresh kale
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ½ cup diced green onion tops
- ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ½ cup chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ cup diced pepper jack cheese
- ½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
- ½ cup fried garlic
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Creole mustard or coarse-grained mustard
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat, add the chopped bacon. Cook until browned and crisped. Remove and drain on paper towels and keep warm.
- In the same skillet, pour off most of the grease leaving about 2 tablespoons. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the Brussels sprouts with their flat inside surface down. Cook until they begin to blacken around the edges, about 10 minutes. Turn the sprouts one at a time and make sure they have roasted to a dark brown with blackened edges. Continue to cook on the other side for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a platter and keep warm.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the kale, parsley, green onion, red onion, rosemary, cheese, almonds, and fried garlic. Mix well. Add the Brussels sprouts and bacon and toss together. Keep at room temperature.
- For the dressing, add the lemon juice, vinegar, and mustard to a small mixing bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle enough olive oil until it forms an emulsion, about ½ cup. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- For serving, add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the dressing to the salad along with a grind of black pepper and toss well. Mound the salad on a large platter and serve with side plates and the rest of the dressing on the side.
YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE: If you like this Cajun cooking story and Cajun recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page. It’s quick and painless. You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new Cajun cooking stories and Cajun recipes are added.