For a fresh and raw alternative on your holiday table, try this crunchy, nutty salad. Use the best Dijon-style mustard you can find (like your own homemade mustard from our Summer ’16 issue, if you have it) and high-quality nuts. If you can get your hands on some, Vermont Shepherd makes a beautiful alternative to the salty, aged sheepmilk cheeses of France and Italy, so seek it out for this salad. Otherwise, a dry local goat cheese or aged, crumbly cheddar would make a nice substitute.
Serves 6–8 as a side dish
1 cup hazelnuts
½ cup local apple cider
½ small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon local apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup neutral oil, such as grape-seed or safflower
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 Mutsu apples or other crisp, juicy, tart local apple, cored and thinly sliced into half moons
2 large handfuls baby arugula
2 ounces Vermont Shepherd cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler, or other hard cheese of your choice
½ cup dried tart cherries, cut in half if large
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 300°F. Toast the hazelnuts until fragrant, about 15–20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 2–3 minutes, then rub with a clean dish towel to remove as many skins as possible; cool completely, then set aside ½ cup nuts for garnish. In a blender add remaining ½ cup toasted hazelnuts, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, shallot, mustard, a big pinch of salt and a small pinch of pepper. Blend to combine, then slowly drizzle in the oil with the motor running to make an emulsified dressing. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Slice the Brussels sprouts crosswise into thin strips and add to a large salad bowl. Using your hands, rub the sprouts between your fingers to fluff and separate the shreds. Add the apples and arugula, toss again, then pour over a few tablespoons of the dressing and toss to coat, adding more as you go if needed. Coarsely chop the reserved nuts and add them to the bowl with the cheese and cherries, toss 1 more time, adjust seasoning if needed and serve.
Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, vegetable gardener and managing editor of Edible Boston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org