Appreciating sprouts


Cajsa Lilliehook, Wikimedia Commons

Try making a salad from Brussels sprouts, onion, apple, slivered almonds and a vinaigrette dressing.

 

By now, many of you have probably picked up on the fact that I have some strange eating habits, even though in my defense, I stay within normal range most of the time.


One veggie I am currently fascinated with is the often-scorned Brussels sprout.


Whenever I mention it, I get a lot of suggestions on the best way to cook Brussels sprouts. I have tried them many different ways, but for some reason my favorite way to eat them is just steamed, placed in the refrigerator to chill and then enjoyed as a snack. I just grab two or three at a time, but I could literally gobble the entire bowl at once if I let myself get greedy.


If you like Brussels sprouts too, here are a few recipes I hope you enjoy.


Brussels sprouts and butternut squash


This recipe includes a bacon vinaigrette.


4 ounces thick-cut bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces


1 shallot, finely chopped


2 tablespoons cider vinegar


1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme


6 tablespoons olive oil


Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed


1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch dice


1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage


1 cup coarsely chopped steamed chestnuts


1. In a saute pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of the fat into a heatproof bowl and reserve. Add the shallot to the remaining fat in the pan and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool.


2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, thyme and shallot. Slowly whisk in 5 tablespoons. of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside.


3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sprouts and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the Brussels sprouts to a bowl of ice water. Drain well, then cut them in half lengthwise and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.


4. Return the water in the pot to a boil, add the butternut squash and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain again and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.


5. In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the squash and saute, stirring occasionally, until light golden and warmed through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.


6. In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat. Place the Brussels sprouts, cut side down, in the pan. Cook, without moving them, for 3 to 4 minutes, then stir and add the sage and chestnuts. Cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to the bowl with the squash. Add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the vegetables (you may not need all of it), then stir in half of the bacon. Transfer the vegetables to a platter, sprinkle with the remaining bacon and serve immediately. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Brussels sprouts and kale salad


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


2 large shallots, thinly sliced


Salt, to taste


2 cups Brussels sprouts


4 cups fresh kale, ribs removed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)


1/4 cup sliced almonds


1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1/4 cup dried cranberries


1/4 cup chopped apple


2 tablespoons pine nuts


4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled


For the dressing:


2 tablespoons creamy almond butter, or tahini


2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


1 tablespoon pure maple syrup


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1. To make the dressing: In a small microwave-safe bowl, whisk together almond butter (or tahini,) balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil. Microwave for 15 to 20 seconds to help get almond butter smooth, if necessary. Set aside in the refrigerator.


2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the shallots then fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then repeat with remaining shallots. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.


3. Trim ends off Brussels sprouts, then remove outer leaves. Shave sprouts very thinly on a mandolin or slice very thinly with a knife, starting at the green end and stopping just before reaching the white, hard end. The thinner the better. Toss to separate shreds then remove any big pieces of tough white core.


4. Combine shaved sprouts in a large bowl with kale, almonds, Parmesan cheese, dried cranberries, apples, pine nuts, crumbled bacon and fried shallots then toss with the prepared dressing and serve. Makes 4 servings.


Roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar and honey


Note: If some of the Brussels sprouts are very large, cut them into quarters. They should all be cut about the same size to ensure even cooking.


1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved, stems and ragged outer leaves removed (See note)


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


3/4 teaspoon kosher salt


1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


1 teaspoon honey


1. Preheat oven to 425 and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.


2. Directly on the prepared baking sheet, toss the Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the salt and pepper. Roast, stirring once halfway through, until tender and golden brown, about 20 minutes.


3. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil, the balsamic vinegar and the honey over the roasted Brussels sprouts. Toss to coat evenly. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, then serve.


Brussels sprouts slaw


1 pound raw Brussels sprouts, stems removed and thinly sliced or shredded


1 cup dried cherries, (or cranberries, figs, etc)


2/3 cup sliced almonds, (these can be toasted or honey roasted)


1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Kosher salt and pepper, to taste


Vinaigrette:


2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


1 tablespoon honey


1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


1 garlic clove, minced


Big pinch of kosher salt and pepper


1/3 cup olive oil


1. For vinaigrette: Whisk together the lemon juice, honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper until combined. Whisk in the olive oil until the mixture is emulsified.


2. Thinly slice or shred the sprouts into thin strips. Place the sprouts in a bowl. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper and toss. Add in the cherries, almonds and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle in half of the vinaigrette. Toss the slaw and let it sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.


3. If you’re making it ahead of time, place it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it (along with the remaining dressing, in a separate container).


4. After 15 minutes, toss the slaw again. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed, and drizzle on more dressing if needed. Serve as a salad, a side or on top of sandwiches.