I was peeling apples the other day, scraping off bits of smooth, ruby red skin like rose petals, when they appeared just as that instead of waste. The flesh of the apple was supposed to go toward a simple tart, but what about these crisp, juicy peels?
Suffice it to say, I found a use for them after all. Apple peels are not necessarily a shoo-in for salads; some are more thick and rubbery than others, and some types of apples have grainier hides, more like pears. The Braeburn apples from Upstate that I’d gotten had more delicate, red-blushed peels that weren’t unpleasant at all. It also helps that they were from an organic orchard, and didn’t have a coating of wax, or whatever it is they polish most conventional fruit with.
I’d also scored Brussels sprouts at the farmers’ market, a sure sign of autumn. If peas and carrots are quintessential spring, apples and Brussels sprouts are now one of my favorite fall pairings. Both are especially good to eat raw once they’re just in season, in early fall. And the tart, sweet apples mellow the sprouts’ slight bitterness.
I’d picked tiny Brussels sprouts from Maxwell’s Farm, which were tender and mild-tasting when shaved into curls. I’ve never seen Brussels sprouts with a slight purple blush on the outer leaves before these ones, either. Nice.
Although using a mandoline might be easier than my method, I found it possible to shave the sprouts as well as flecks of apple peel both using a standard vegetable peeler. You just can’t quite grip the base of the sprout well enough to do this past shaving only half of the head. (The rest of it was finely shredded with a chef’s knife, in slightly thicker pieces as a result.)
A sprinkle of pine nuts lent a small dose of luxury to this otherwise humble — especially for the peels — fall salad. Next time, I’ll have to grab more apples to toss in crisp pieces of the flesh as well.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apple Peels and Pinenuts
(makes 3-4 servings)
1 dozen small Brussels sprouts, the freshest ones you can find
1 thin-skinned apple (such as Gala, Jonagold, Braeburn, and many others; avoid Red Delicious, McIntosh and other more thick and bitter-tasting peels)
about 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
small handful of pinenuts
Trim any discolored outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts. Shred finely using a mandoline, vegetable peeler, and/or knife. Using a vegetable peeler, peel small pieces of peel from the apple. Toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Top with the pinenuts for serving.
(for 3-4 servings)
1 dozen small Brussels sprouts (at $3.50 pint): $2.75
1 apple (at $2.50/lb): $0.40
2 tsp fresh lemon juice: $0.15
handful pinenuts: $1.00
1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper: $0.20
Two brownie points: Brussels sprouts are brassicas very similar to cabbage, which is a great thing health-wise because they’re packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and tons of Vitamin K, as well as potassium and fiber. Apple peels carry a disproportionate amount of nutrients to the flesh of the fruit, another good reason to eat them rather than throwing them out. A light vinaigrette of only lemon for more Vitamin C and heart-healthy olive oil is a good way to keep this salad simple and pure.
Eight brownie points: Brussels sprouts and apples are surely low-bearing fruit to eating seasonally and sustainably; they’re plentiful in the fall (apples for much longer, since they keep in cold storage), and they’re easy to find from local, responsible farms. However, lemons, olive oil and pinenuts don’t grow too well on this coast, and add some carbon footprint to this salad.