How did brussels sprouts go from being America's most hated vegetable to its most beloved? They truly are beloved in our house, on our plates in some form or fashion nearly every week! Their versatility (shaved for a chopped salad, quartered and roasted with fresh herbs!) make them an easy compliment to nearly any meal, but their mild cabbagey flavor never quite disappears into the background. I respect that about brussels sprouts. Collaborative, but not a pushover.
I've been day dreaming about using raw, shaved brussels sprouts in a slaw to replace cabbage, but worried their tender leaves wouldn't withhold a nice crunch once they were dressed. What's a girl to do?
Perusing through the market, I spotted radicchio and suspected it could be the solution! Super crunchy and colorful, too.
Radicchio, though it looks like a baby red cabbage, comes from the same family as endive (I know my horticulture pal Molly could back me up!), and it has a spicy, bitter flavor akin to a radish. The farmer told me radicchio is only in season for a short time right between winter and spring, so we must get our radicchios while they last!
Beautiful and with us only for a season, their coming and going helps me to mindfully savor their pleasant bitterness. It seems that this time of year all we get from the earth are bitter flavors: bitter leafy greens, bitter cabbagey things, bitter root vegetables and bitter cold. But once they are replaced by a sweet reprieve of strawberries, fresh asparagus, spring onions and peas, I miss the warm comfort of wintry foods, and even the simple consistency of flavors.
It's hard to muster up joy at the end of February, let's feast on winter while it lasts.
In devising a vehicle for this slaw, I made tostadas rather than tried-and-try tacos simply because I wanted to eat this tangy, spicy, crunchy slaw by the forkful! It would be also excellent on a fish taco. If you try that, please invite me over for dinner! I'll also note that the bitter and spicy flavor of radicchio pairs well with something mildly sweet. Don't skip the honey in the dressing!
sweet potato tostadas with brussels sprout + radicchio slaw
Serves 4, with plenty of leftover slaw. Always a welcomed problem!
What you'll need:
For the slaw:
1 small head radicchio
1 lb. brussels sprouts, shaved
1 cup green onions, chopped (just the green parts)
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 serrano pepper
For the dressing:
8oz container creme fraiche
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 T honey, more to taste
salt + pepper to taste
4 tortillas, day-old homemade tortillas work like a charm
2 cups black beans
2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into 1-inch squares
plenty of brussels sprout + radicchio law
extra cilantro and lime wedges for garnish
For the slaw, slice the radicchio in half and take a moment to marvel at the detail inside. Working with a sharp chef's knife, slice very, very thin. Set aside in the biggest bowl you have. Shave brussels sprouts by removing the bottom stem and continuing to slice as thin as humanly possible. (I've also been told you can do this in a food processor with the blade attachment). Add to big bowl along with radicchio. Chop green onions (green parts only), cilantro, and serrano pepper. Toss them in with the brussels sprouts and radicchio.
Make the dressing by adding all ingredients to a medium bowl or jar and whisking to combine. Toss with dry ingredients until well incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
For the tostadas, lightly coat sweet potatoes (cut into 1-inch squares) with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 mins, tossing halfway through. During the last 5 minutes, brush tortillas lightly with olive oil and carefully place directly on the rack in the center of the oven to crisp.
Layer crispy tortillas with black beans and roasted sweet potatoes, and top with a hearty helping of slaw. Serve with a lime wedge and additional cilantro if you are so included!