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Brussels Sprout and Brown Rice Salad

March 1, 2010

Brussels sprout and brown rice salad

This might not look like the most appetizing meal you’ve ever seen, but I have to tell you, it is so tasty and satisfying it has become a very regular dinner in my little house. I’ve tried a few variations of this recipe, and have concluded that this one is the best: the crunchy walnuts and thinly sliced Brussels are very well accented by the earthiness of za’atar, a blend of sumac, sesame seeds, and other dried herbs. I was introduced to za’atar by an old college friend, whose father is Lebanese, but until now hadn’t found much use for it other than making the flatbread her father would bring up when he visited.

My brother, Patrick, inspired this concoction when he mentioned that he had started cooking Brussels sprouts sliced very thinly. They cook a lot faster, and have a little more delicate flavor. And why, you might be wondering is this dish so very yellow? I decided to cook the rice with turmeric, a little suggestion from a former housemate, Christa. So this is dish is like a big amalgam of inspiration from people I’ve known, and a quick and easy weeknight dinner full of crunch and flavor.

I nearly always roast Brussels sprouts, so it was kind of a revelation to realize that I could cook them on the stove in less than half the time. Slicing them into smaller pieces and sauteing them means they can be ready in about five minutes, and because they are cut into smaller pieces, you don’t get that big cabbage flavor with every bite. It is a much more subtle way to add Brussels sprouts to a meal.

Thinly sliced Brussels sprouts

I have been eating this as a main course, but of course, it would be an excellent side dish (and while it’s quite a ways away, I think it would be terrific on the Thanksgiving table).

Brussels Sprouts and Brown Rice Salad

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 c. uncooked brown or wild rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • a splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • about 2 cups of Brussels sprouts
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar
  • 1/3 cup of walnuts, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat about half a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it’s hot, stir in the rice until the kernels are coated. Add the turmeric, about a cup of water or broth, and the Worcestershire sauce. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and let the rice cook for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.

Meanwhile, trim and slice the Brussels sprouts and mince the garlic. Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium skillet. Once it’s hot, add the Brussels sprouts and saute for a minute or two, until they begin to wilt. Stir in the garlic and za’atar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are cooked through and maybe starting to brown just a little bit. Remove from the heat until the rice is done cooking.

Sauteeing Brussels

Once the rice is ready, stir the rice into the skillet with the Brussels sprouts. Stir in the walnuts (which you can toast if you have time, for about 5 to 7 minutes in a 350F oven or toaster oven), and add salt and pepper to taste. And there you have it: a filling dinner full of whole grain and vegetable goodness.

Brussels Sprout and brown rice salad

Some other variations:

  • Throw in a can of tuna or some cooked shredded chicken for extra protein
  • Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of zest
  • Switch out the za’atar for red pepper flakes, the turmeric for oregano, and finish with fresh basil
  • Add sauteed mushrooms
  • Cook some sliced carrot rounds with the rice
  • Tell me your ideas in the comments!
5 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    March 1, 2010 5:33 pm

    I have brussel sprouts all the time, absolutely love them and cannot wait to try this recipe, thanks for sharing.

  2. Nicole Lewon permalink
    March 1, 2010 11:18 pm

    Oh man, do I love brussel sprouts! I rarely have them fresh, usually picking up the frozen bags and popping them in the micro. Still love them. This salad looks awesome! I am going to make it this week adding a bit of stock to cook the rice!

  3. March 3, 2010 2:09 am

    We’re big on chopping up Brussels sprouts in our house, too. I like it because it gives you so much more surface area to caramelize! :) Love the brown rice idea, too – sounds both hearty and healthy.

  4. March 9, 2010 1:36 pm

    I’ve only just started cooking brussel sprouts, and this post teaches me mucho about how to prepare them in new ways. Currently I boil them–per my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook–yuck?–and then squeeze an orange over them before serving. This actually tastes pretty good to me, which probably reveals more about my palate than anything else.

    But I’m psyched to try this as a new meal!

    • March 11, 2010 10:11 am

      Brussels sprouts and orange actually sounds intriguing. I will have to try that sometime.

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