Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Red Quinoa is a dish one cannot stop eating after the first bite. There is a lot going on with the varying textures from toasted quinoa, smoked almonds and raw Brussels sprouts, but it’s the powerful flavor from the king of cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano, that makes this dish a true winner. This is truly a super food ensemble, and can be served as a side dish or main vegetarian dish, as quinoa is a complete protein.
When Legends from Europe invited me to participate in a recipe contest, I was excited. I’m Italian. I appreciate the fabulous imported meats and cheeses of Italy. I got to choose either the cheese or meat category and I chose cheese and was assigned Parmigiano Reggiano.
I would have been equally content to be assigned one of the other cheeses, but Parmigiano Reggiano and I go back a long long way, and this cheese has had a prominent place in many recipes here. I grew up eating parmigiano reggiano, always grated freshly at the table. I used to be perplexed because the rind was hard and had writing on it, and through a little girl’s eyes, I didn’t understand that this meant something very special.
Like many Italian ingredients, it is protected under Italian law and must come from Parma, Modena, Reggio Emilia, Bologna or Mantova. It is a hard cheese, made from grass-fed cow’s milk, and has been made the same way for over eight centuries. I adore the way the Italians embrace tradition and are so passionate about how their food is made so that it remains the best it can be and without compromise.
Parmigiano is the adjective for Parma. You may also know parmigiano by the french word, parmesan, but be careful when you see cheese named parmesan. You might not be getting what you think you are. Inferior imitations may be legally sold in the United States under the name parmesan, so don’t be fooled. and do not compromise the quality of your dish. Some of the inferior cheeses will degrade your dish, while a true Parmigiano Reggiano will enhance it.There is a difference in the “real” cheese and the many imposters.
The best way to be assured that you are eating authentic parmigiano-regianno, which has passed strict inspection, is to buy it with the rind on, which will be stamped with the words Parmigano Regianno. Grate it as you need it, taking it out to sit at room temperature first.
In deciding my recipe, I took my inspiration from the season. It’s Autumn here, and as the green leaves are turning red, I was inspired to make a shredded Brussels Sprouts salad with toasted red quinoa, and use the Parmigiano Reggiano as the major flavor booster. I used raw Brussels sprouts along with some charred Brussels sprouts leaves, but this is not a cold salad. It’s best eaten warm or at room temperature.
The Brussels sprouts are shredded with a mandolin, marinated for a while in olive oil, lemon and garlic and then briefly returned to the pan of toasted quinoa and smoked almonds. The cheese is added in to the quinoa which benefits greatly from its robust flavor and added in once again to finish the dish. The smokiness of the almonds is a nice compliment to the Parmigiano Reggiano.
This can be a first course dish or a side dish, but feel free to make it your main dish, your meatless Monday, or your vegetarian option at the Holiday table. However, you choose to serve Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Toasted Red Quinoa, be sure to use authentic Parmigiano Reggiano.
- 1 pound Brussels Sprouts
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ¾ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, divided
- 1 cup uncooked red quinoa
- ¼ cup smoked almonds, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6-8 sage leaves
- Rinse Brussels Sprouts thoroughly. Remove some of the large outer leaves to roast. Toss the outer leaves with a little olive oil. Roast at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until the leaves are crispy. These will be used for garnish at the end,
- Using a mandolin, shred Brussels sprouts or using a chef's knife, slice thinly.
- Mix together olive oil, lemon zest.
- Mix Brussels sprouts with olive oil dressing just until sprouts are wet. Set aside. You will reserve the rest of the dressing for later.
- Cook quinoa. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in mesh strainer under running water for two minutes.
- Place in pot with two cups water and 2 teaspoons salt.
- Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, cook for 15 more minutes.
- Place remaining olive oil in saute pan with 1 clove minced garlic. Lightly saute
- Add in one tablespoon butter and smoked almonds. Add quinoa.
- Stir for about two minutes to toast.
- Add in ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour toasted quinoa over the raw Brussels sprouts.
- In separate small saute pan, make a browned sage butter. Brown the butter on medium heat. Add in the remaining minced garlic with sage leaves, until leaves are crisp but not brown.
- Pour sage browned butter over quinoa and brussels sprouts. Mix thoroughly.
- Top with remaining Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and almonds, Roasted Brussels Sprouts leaves for garnish.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Legends from Europe is a 3 year campaign funded by the European Union and launched in the U.S. to increase awareness and celebrate “the legendary quality, tradition, and taste” of five authentic PDO products (Protected Designation of Origin) from Europe – Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Grana Padano and Montasio.