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Posts Tagged ‘veggies’

So I realize that brussel sprouts are at the very tail end of their season (and I may be really stretching it), but I still see them bright and peppy on their stalks at the market so I feel justified in this post. 

my favorite cafe in the namesake city of the brussel sprout

my favorite cafe in the namesake city of the brussel sprout

Like the city of their namesake, brussel sprouts are terribly underrated; they have such an unfortunate reputation of being stinky and plain.  In fact, these little runts of the cabbage family may be the mascot for the rejected vegetable team, elevated by veggie haters as the chief offender and reason to shun vegetables.  Maybe this is true if you boil all of the flavor out of them and dump them on a plate with a little table salt (a tragedy); however, a properly cooked brussel sprout paired with some punchy ingredients and a little bit of love can yield something very, very tasty. 

Brussel sprouts are sweet, earthy, maybe even a little floral – pancetta and garlic beautifully complement these aspects of their flavor.  They are great vehicles of flavor – crispy edges with soft centers – pungent sauce or olive oil hidden in the leaves – their own essence assertive enough to not be lost in the mix.  These tiny crucifers are not only too delicious to be avoided, but they are packed with vitamins and phytonutrients that provide all sorts of lovely benefits to your body (cancer prevention, clear skin, boosted immune function, etc.). 

My husband and I most often enjoy them prepared in the fashion I’ll outline below; you could serve them alongside a simple chicken or pork, or you can eat them as the main with some crusty bread, as we often do.  I have

brussel sprouts with pancetta

brussel sprouts with pancetta

experimented with this classic pairing multiple times with many variations; I like them best in the way that I’m sharing.  The pancetta is very toothsome; crispy but also pleasantly chewy.  The saltiness of the pancetta combined with the garlic and caramelization of the brussel sprouts, the small amount of wine or broth that deglazes the pan, a tiny squeeze of lemon – all of this combines in glorious goodness.  You could also cut some sprouts in half and roast them in the oven.  Toss them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and they will brown very nicely.  A simple, warm sauce of mustard, white wine or white wine vinegar, thyme and a generous sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese makes an elegant and versatile side. 

Perhaps you have written off the brussel sprout; if so, I ask you to give the humble veggie another chance.  If I haven’t done enough to convince you, maybe my husband’s unabashed passion will: “They’re my absolute favorite vegetable,” he says, “and they’re named after my favorite city.”  That’s a one-two punch for the brussel sprout.

brussel sprouts with pancetta

serves 2 generously

  • 20 or so small brussel sprouts, trimmed of bottom “stem” and outer leaves plucked
  • quarter inch slab of pancetta, diced into small cubes
  • a few cloves of garlic, very coarsely chopped
  • generous splash of chicken broth, white wine or vermouth
  • little squeeze of lemon (optional and a little something extra)
  • little bit of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. trim the brussel sprouts and blanch them for about three minutes in boiling water, draining and transferring to an ice bath
  2. cut the blanched brussel sprouts in half – meanwhile, crisp the pancetta in a skillet over medium high heat
  3. when pancetta begins to crisp, add the brussel sprouts cut side down and cook for 3 to 4 minutes (turn the heat down if they are browning too much or too fast)
  4. check to make sure that brussel sprouts are browning nicely, then turn over to brown on the other side, maybe 2 minutes more
  5. deglaze the pan with a little white wine, vermouth or chicken broth, then add the garlic to the pan
  6. toss and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes more, stirring gently to combine flavors and prevent garlic from burning
  7. squeeze with a bit of lemon, serve, and repent of your aversion to brussel sprouts

Look for brussel sprouts of a similar size, with crisp compact heads and intact leaves.  Some of the leaves will come off during cooking; don’t worry – these will crisp up and become delicious.

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This is a quick and tasty little dinner.  We ate it last night, and it is consistently delicious.  The recipe for the sole came from Gourmet magazine.  While there aren’t many ingredients, you do have to pay attention and prepare this properly, or your almonds and butter will burn.  The texture and taste of the sole really compliments this preparation, and because of this, I don’t think any white fish would do as a substitution.  If there isn’t any sole at the market, trout may work well. 

Very tasty with some sauteed haricot vert (little french green beans – I buy bags of frozen from Trader Joe’s) and shallots, sprinkled generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Sole Almandine – Serves 2

  • 2 sole filets – skinned
  • 3 tbsp butter (I use smart balance sticks) – divided
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds, or just  a generous handful
  • a lemon
  • a little flour, salt and pepper, and canola oil
  1. Heat 1 tbsp canola oil and 1 tbsp of the butter over medium high heat in a flat bottomed sautee pan
  2. Gently salt and pepper the filets and dust them with flour
  3. Cook the fillets in the pan, about one and a half minutes per side – very quick!  Remove them from the pan and put a fillet on each plate
  4. Dump the oil and fat from the pan, wiping out any excess
  5. Add the other 2 tbsp of butter and your almonds, cooking over LOW for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently
  6. Remove the pan from the heat, and squeeze your lemon juice into the pan
  7. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve – so tasty

Sauteed Haricot Vert or regular Green Beans – Serves 2

  • a few generous handfuls of the veggies (if using regular green beans, snap the ends)
  • one medium shallot, cut into half rings or very coarsly chopped (you could do an onion if you don’t have shallot, but for this I prefer the delicate flavor and size of a shallot)
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
  1. add a few glugs of olive oil to a pan, heated over medium
  2. throw in the shallots with a little bit of salt, and cook for a minute or two
  3. add your green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for five to seven minutes, or until starting to brown a little (sometimes I blanche frozen green beans in a little bit of boiling hot water first, but it isn’t totally necessary)
  4. finish with some sea salt and a generous grind of pepper

This is a quick and easy dinner.  It’s not too terrible for you; although some could make an argument about the butter.  Oh well… it tastes delicious.  🙂

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