Not only does the end of summer mean you have to pack up your shorts and sundresses, but it’s the time of your tearful goodbye to the bountiful tomatoes, summer squash, peppers and all of the lovely berries and produce of long days and warm nights.
Although it’s been fall for a few weeks, and I even pulled out my flannel shirts and sweaters almost a month ago, I have yet to transition well to cooler-weather food. During fall and winter it’s easy to crave carbs and warm cheesy toppings, but I find it to be quite a difficult time for eating vegetables. Frozen veggies just aren’t as good as fresh, and I don’t particularly crave squash or root vegetables.
I feel like the foods I’ve been sharing recently that aren’t representative of what I normally eat, and I’d like to change that. I typically eat a lot of vegetables, and when cooler weather comes around, I’m always at a loss for what to eat. I generally keep to spinach and broccoli, purchasing them weekly, and then I try to add some random vegetable I see at the store that looks okay. Although I mix up my meals, the veggies can get really boring, and I tire of them. This blog requires me to get out of my cooking habits, and I think it’s a great thing–I must break my habits and expand my cool-weather veggie horizons!
Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that I actually often have in the back of my mind but rarely prepare. Brussels sprouts are good. They really are, and if you don’t believe me, that’s because you aren’t eating them the right way. If you’re a sprouts newbie, toss them in olive oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper, and then roast them at 400F until they start to turn brown and almost crackly. That “recipe” is not even a recipe, so I have something a big more venturous to share.
This Brussels sprout salad is perfect for a weekday as much as it is a holiday dinner. With candied pecans, feta and dried cranberries, it’s festive, tasty and seems fancy but is incredibly easy. Turning the Brussels sprouts into individual leaves is surprisingly simple, and it requires only about 10 minutes. (It’s also kinda fun to take them apart.)
So whether you need dinner tonight or are already looking for a new dish for Thanksgiving, bookmark this simple salad to satisfy and get a dose of veggies.
Warm Brussels sprout salad
inspired by The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook
makes 4 entree servings or 6-8 side servings
½ cup pecan halves
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 lb Brussels sprouts
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
sea salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1. Put the sugar in a medium-sized skillet and cook over medium heat. Once the sugar begins to melt, swirl it. Immediately once it has melted, remove from heat and mix in pecan halves. Transfer to a plate to cool. Once cool, after about 15 minutes, break apart the pieces and roughly chop.
2. Prepare the sprouts: Cut the bottom off, about ¼ of the Brussels sprout, and push the leaves out from the center from the bottom. You may need to cut off the bottom a little at a time, pulling more leaves off of the sprout each time. Eventually you’ll get down to a tiny sphere of leaves–you can either continue to cut off a bit of the end and peel the leaves off or slice the small sphere in thirds.
3. Boil water in a medium to large saucepan; immerse the Brussels sprout leaves in the boiling water for 10 seconds, until bright green. Quickly strain and dump into a bowl filled with ice water. Once cooled, strain the leaves and dry with a salad spinner or lay them out on a clean towel.
4. In the pan that you used to blanch the sprouts, warm olive oil and vinegar over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes. Do not let it boil. Once the oil and vinegar are warm, add the sprout leaves, remove from heat and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the salad to a serving dish. Top with prepared pecans, feta and dried cranberries, and serve.