A ruby red brussels sprout and gruyere salad

by sophie on January 11, 2012 · 21 comments

Post image for A ruby red brussels sprout and gruyere salad

For three years in a row I have tried to grow my own brussels sprout ‘rubine’, the beautiful crimson flecked cousin of the common green brussel, and for three years I have failed. Brussels sprouts need care, love and attention right from sowing the seeds in March, through planting out the baby brassicas in early summer (protecting them from our cheeky chickens and the slugs until they are strong enough to stand alone), and then onwards to the first frost for that all important flavour boost. After three years of failure  I thought that it was just not meant to be.

My humble thanks and admiration then go to Marks and Spencer for putting in a lot of effort themselves into figuring out how to grow these little beauties so that I could buy them. Apparently it has taken them a few years of practicing too.  Happily I can finally chuck out my sprout seeds and stick to the simpler but still exciting stuff like funny coloured courgettes and oddly shaped carrots.

The red sprouts don’t taste particularly different to the usual green varieties but unlike many purple veggies they do keep their colour when you cook them.  All brussels sprouts are a great source of Vitamin C for people eating and shopping sustainably through the British Winter and the purple colour of these particular sprouts is because they have a high anthocyanin content, a group of antioxidant molecules with potential anti-cancer properties (that old nutrition advice to eat a rainbow has some pretty sound science behind it).

red rubine brussels sprouts

I was so excited to finally get my hands on these little chaps that I thought this was time to make good the final stage of my brussels sprout acceptance journey from being a long-time sprout hater; eating a raw sprout. Long time readers will know that I was planning to reach this last sprouty frontier way back in 2008, but somehow it never quite happened.

sprout hater's timeline

Anyway, if you’ve been holding off trying them raw (like I have), then don’t. There’s nothing scary about them – they just taste like raw cabbage. That raw brassica tang is lovely with the sweet, nutty gruyere cheese and creamy almonds I used in my little salad, and I bet they would make a brilliant winter coleslaw with dried cranberries and a mayo and yogurt dressing. What’s stopping you?

p.s I keep forgetting to tell you that I’ve made Facebook page for Mostly Eating.  It’s another way of following the blog (links to all new posts appear on there) but in addition I’ve been posting a small selection of links to other recipes and nutrition articles on there.

Recipe for Ruby red brussels sprout and gruyere salad

Inspired by the brussels sprout and apple salad in the River Cottage Veg Everyday cookbook. I like the mellow lemon flavour of lemon infused oil here but if you prefer to use olive oil with a squeeze of lemon then go easy on the lemon juice.

A handful of brussels sprouts

20g gruyere cheese, peeled into thin shavings

1 tablespoon almonds

A drizzle of lemon olive oil

Peel any rough outer leaves from the sprouts and cut away the hard bottom part of the sprout to give you a flat surface.  Place the sprout flat side down and slice as thinly as you can.

Mix the shredded sprouts, gruyere and almonds together and arrange on a pretty plate.

Drizzle with a little lemon olive oil.


Lucy January 11, 2012 at 22:22


your chart has completely made my day, sophie. how gorgeous these are! loving the cranberry idea as well, thank you.

Kalyn January 11, 2012 at 22:25

I love the sound of this and the purple sprouts are gorgeous.

Elaine January 12, 2012 at 00:22

Congratulations on arriving at the “loving them raw” stage. And I so much admire your perseverance in trying to grow ‘Rubine’ — it sounds incredibly difficult with so many factors to control.

Beautiful photograph and appealing seasonal recipe ideas, Sophie. Thank you. I’ve edited my comment just now — originally I’d said I thought I was at about the middle stage: 6 sprouts with Thanksgiving dinner. But you’ve inspired me — especially with the coleslaw suggestion — to try to jump to the extreme right without warming up with stir-fries (though they sound lovely, too).

JohannaGGG January 12, 2012 at 01:48

every time I think I have seen it all, another blogger brings more colourful vegetable glory to my attention – these look brilliant – hope maybe some enterprising folk around us will start selling them as I think chances of me growing them are slim but they look so lovely – and I love the idea of pairing them with gruyere – hurrah for sprouts!

Sophie January 15, 2012 at 18:17

Do let me know if you try the coleslaw Elaine – the idea is but a twinkle in my eye at the moment :-)

kathryn January 13, 2012 at 00:13

Hoorah, well done Sophie on conquering your Brussels ambivalence. I well remember seeing and smiling at your Brussels acceptance journey chart a few years back, so it’s lovely to read that you’re now there.

I’m a Brussels lover, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never had them raw – so you’re way ahead of me. Am going to have to try this salad out.

And what incredible little Brussels they are. I’ve never seen them before, but they’re so pretty. And even better, they retain their colour when cooked. Love it.

Vincci January 13, 2012 at 04:14

Those Brussels sprouts look marvellous! I’d never seen, or even heard of, “Rabine” Brussels sprouts before. I’m a huge fan of oddly-coloured vegetables, so will keep my eye out for them here in Canada!

Also, congrats on finally loving Brussels sprouts! I was “lucky” in that I wasn’t introduced to Brussels sprouts until university, so I fell for them right away :)

Sophie January 15, 2012 at 18:19

Lucky you Vincci – I’m sure we’d all eat a lot more sprouts in total over our lifetime if nobody made us even try them until we were at least 20 years old :-)

Urvashi@BotanicalBaker January 13, 2012 at 11:34

Gorgeous pics! I like the idea of them eaten raw too. Must try this!

Mark Willis January 13, 2012 at 12:21

I love the Timeline idea! I bought some purple sprouts the other day, just to try them (don’t think they were from M&S though). I found that when cooked they went a very grey colour – most unappetising – so they must have been a different variety to yours. To be honest, I think I’d prefer the salad if it were made with Red Cabbage…

Sophie January 15, 2012 at 18:21

Hi Mark – I must admit to taking M&S’s word for it when they said the purple colour intensifies with cooking as I ate all my sprouts raw. Grey sprouts sound very unappetising. I’ll have to buy some more and check this out!

Arwen from Hoglet K January 14, 2012 at 11:12

I’ve never tried raw brussel sprouts, or red ones, but I’ll have to seek out both next winter! I enjoyed your brussel sprout timeline :)

Ashley January 14, 2012 at 21:24

Haha glad you have finally accepted the delicious brussels sprout. :) I’ve never seen ruby ones before!! They’re so pretty.

shaheen January 15, 2012 at 18:53

I am so looking forward to growing sprouts this year, hopefully the red variety. I like your learnign to love sprout chart, I’m nowhere near enjoying eating them raw.

sarah January 17, 2012 at 04:46

Had no idea brussels sprouts came in any other color than green! This is so gorgeous.

Leni and Mimi February 1, 2012 at 19:13

Love your website. And love the brussel sprout mentions – I am a big fan of brussels so this is a fav. Well done.

rhiby February 6, 2012 at 13:13

Hi, I love your blog’s approach – you should not only think about maintaining your own health, but maintaining the ‘health’ of your locality, your country and your planet. Cheers to sustainability!

Pat February 10, 2012 at 20:02

Hello Sophie

Have just discovered your blog and wanted to say how impressed I am with it. I like your position on healthy, sustainable eating and think your recipes are great. Thanks very much for sharing your knowledge as a dietician and your enthusiasm as a cook. I look forward to future posts.

Jenny Philip February 11, 2012 at 05:52

I’m already moving my tong around my lips. red brussels sprout and gruyere salad is new food recipe for me and I don’t miss this chance to taste this one today evening. Thanks for lovely food post. :)

shuhan March 10, 2012 at 17:15

first time at your site and I love it- the focus on nourishing, real foods. I work at the farmers’ market on weekends and in the week, I’m still in uni, so I like to do simple recipes that give attention to the food itself! I’ve been enjoying purple sprouting broccoli this month, and I love bringing home ‘weird’ purple cauliflowers and kale etc to the amusement of my friends, but sadly I’ve never come across these ruby red brussels through winter at all. they look gorgeous!

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