*Note: Use care when handling nettles. Their little stingers are not terribly dangerous, but they can cause a great deal of discomfort. I like to wear rubber gloves or use tongs to handle them...
I had a revelatory moment when I discovered that Brussels sprouts aren't naturally soggy and sulfuric.
The fact is, when you boil or steam them to within an inch of their watery, mushy lives, they don't taste very good no matter how much butter you slather on them.
And it's really a shame! Brussels sprouts are cute as buttons, and on the stalk, as you sometimes find them near Thanksgiving, they're positively epic. I haven't had any luck growing Brussels sprouts yet. The cabbage worms like them almost as much as I do, and, well, good luck fighting a plague of cabbage worms.
In recent years, though, the Brussels sprout has been reclaimed. Gone are the pots of boiling water. We now know that they respond favorably to roasting and sautéeing. Hasten the brown bits!
I developed this recipe after reading an article about presenting vegetables in new forms. For instance, shredding asparagus spears instead of serving them whole. The palate recognizes the familiar flavor, but the novelty of the form is pleasing. I also happened to have a pound of Brussels sprouts in the fridge and a carton of Greek yogurt. Slaw just came to me organically. Or maybe a Southern gene kicked in. We love our slaw.
But this isn't a slaw you should be afraid to serve at a formal gathering or, for that matter, a holiday. On Thanksgiving or Christmas, this subtle wonder of a dish will surprise even the most stalwart sprout-haters. The bacon is one reason, but not the only reason.
Pomegranate seeds are a bonus--they dress up this otherwise humble looking dish and make you actually want to try it. Of course, once you've had a bite, such persuasion won't be necessary.
In a large skillet or sauté pan, cook over medium heat until crisp:
2 slices smoky bacon, diced
Remove the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Add to the hot bacon fat in the pan:
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Cook the garlic until beginning to brown, turning the cloves occasionally. Remove from the skillet, mince, and set aside.
Wash, trim, and shred:
1 pound Brussels sprouts
Add the Brussels sprouts and a hefty pinch of kosher salt to the skillet and sauté until they are tender and starting to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. If there are brown bits (a.k.a. flavor) stuck on the bottom of the pan, deglaze the pan with:
Juice of 1/2 lemon
scraping the pan with a spatula.
Meanwhile, prepare the yogurt dressing. Combine with the minced garlic and cooked bacon in a medium bowl:
3/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
Juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Add the cooked Brussels sprouts (do not wait until they have cooled--this slaw is meant to be served warm) to the yogurt dressing and stir to combine. Serve, garnished with: