Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's Not Easy Being Green - Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Maple Vinaigrette

I love vegetables, especially if they are green.  Sure, I have a warm relationship with carrots and yellow squash and parsnips; red, yellow and orange bell peppers tickle my taste buds, and of course cauliflower makes me smile. Lately I've even made peace with beets, but at the end of the day, it's the green stuff that I like to cook and eat.  High up on that list is the cute little Brussel sprout.  No, seriously. Brussel sprouts are cruciferous vegetables and those, my friends, are good for you and even if they weren't I would love 'em.  If I prepared them, George Bush the Elder would have eaten his broccoli and he would have liked it.  What is corned beef without cabbage?  Choucroute garnie without sauerkraut?  Cheese sauce without cauliflower?

Brussel sprouts are awesome.  They look like tiny cabbages and they taste even better.  I will often serve them with corned beef instead of cabbage, along with boiled new potatoes of roughly the same size as the sprouts.  We always had them steamed or boiled, with a little salt and butter, but the new, better way to cook them, at least according to the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, is to roast them in the oven.  Roasting vegetables enhances the natural flavors in a different way than boiling.  Natural sugars are caramelized, and marry well with the salt that is usually added before cooking.

I decided to try combining roasted Brussel sprouts with a maple vinaigrette that was part of a recipe for boiled Brussel sprouts. Threw those random numbers in the air and came up with a winner, at least according to Robert, who did declare "don't lose that recipe!"  As if I would:

1 pound fresh Brussel sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette:
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
4 tablespoons maple syrup (not top grade)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons walnut oil
freshly ground nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Trim the root end of the sprouts, and pull off any yellowed leaves.  Place the sprouts in an aluminum baking dish (or a rimmed baking sheet).  Pour on the olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Shake the pan gently. back and forth, so that the sprouts are evenly coated with oil and seasoning.  Place in the oven for 35 minutes, until the Brussel sprouts are light brown on the outside and tender on the inside.  Shake the pan occasionally while roasting.

While the sprouts are roasting, whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together.

Carefully move the hot Brussel sprouts to a nice serving bowl, and pour all or most of the vinaigrette over.  Serve immediately.  Leftovers can be served chilled from the refrigerator, or at room temperature, or even gently reheated.

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