Brussels sprouts are the new bacon.
Wait. Hear me out. Even if you don't agree that mini cabbages will ever hold a candle to cured pork, you must admit that Brussels sprouts, like bacon before them, are the latest chic ingredient. Many restaurants are now serving them up tapas style, garnished with fresh thyme or sautéed lardoons.
So okay. Maybe Brussels sprouts aren't the new bacon, but they're certainly bacon's new best friend.
Inspired by the trend, I decided to make the salad with pancetta crisps, roasted Brussels sprouts, and pear from the September issue of Everyday Food. Tossed with crisp greens and salty slivers of ricotta salata, it looked like the perfect main dish salad: Autumn on a plate.
I followed the recipe closely but not exactly, swapping the white-wine vinegar in favor of sherry vinegar for an extra boost of flavor, and increasing the Brussels sprouts to one pound. I’m glad I did: while Everyday Food claims the salad serves four as an entrée, even with an additional 1/2 pound of Brussels sprouts I feed only three—with no leftovers.
Not that there would have been many, anyway. The final results were stunning: the red pear was stunning alongside the stark white cheese; and the crunchy, peppery pancetta perfectly complimented the caramelized Brussels sprouts.
Salad with Pancetta Crisps, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Pear
- 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
- 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 1 head Boston lettuce (about 1 pound), torn into bite-size pieces, or 1 pound mixed Greens
- 1 red Bartlett pear, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
- 2 ounces ricotta salata, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425ºF, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet, arrange pancetta in a single layer. Bake on a lower rack until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain; set aside. On another rimmed baking sheet, toss Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake on upper rack until tender, 18 to 20 minutes, tossing once.
In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Add lettuce, pear, and Brussels sprouts; toss to combine. Divide among four serving plates, and top with ricotta salata and pancetta.