Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts

I did it! It took me over a year of squeezing in practices late in the evenings or as long back-to-back weekend sessions, but I finally passed my competency exam and am now a fully-trained “Online Counseling and Suicide Intervention Specialist”. I’m not sure how much of a “specialist” I am – I still feel very new to the whole field – but I’m very glad to finally get on with the volunteer work I set out to do so long ago.

I’m not sure if you remember my Sweet Potato & Turnip Mash w/ Sage Butter post (mmm, that was really good by the way…need to make that again soon…), but I explained there why I set out to join this non-profit organization in the first place. Their cause is still one very close to my heart and I am more excited now than ever before to be a part of such an amazing movement.

On a lighter note: this brussels sprouts recipe would normally have sparked no interest in me whatsoever if it hadn’t been for its original incarnation with chicken. Deb’s dijon chicken recipe is still an all-time favorite for us and has been gaining me more than a few fans at the office (where I’m known to trade food for programming help). Knowing just how powerful that scallion-mustard sauce is I figured the vegetarian version of the recipe should at least be given a chance. The success of my first ever brussels sprouts experience, Roasted Cauliflower with Shiitake and Sage, also gave me hope that these mini-veggies may not be the culinary horror they’re made out to be.

Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts (from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1   lb.   brussels sprouts

1   T   unsalted butter

1   T   EVOO

½   C   dry white wine

1   C   low-sodium vegetable broth*

2-3   shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

2   T   heavy cream

1   T   smooth dijon mustard

2   T   fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped, optional

salt & pepper to taste

* Note: For additional flavor, non-vegetarians might want to use LS chicken broth instead.

Procedure:

1) Wash and trim sprouts, then halve lengthwise. In a large heavy pan heat oil and butter over Medium heat then add the sprouts cut-side down in a single layer (brown in batches if necessary). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and then cook sprouts without turning until bottoms are golden brown – about 5 minutes.

2) Once the sprouts have been browned (add them all back into the pan if working in batches) add stock, shallots, and wine to the pan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to Medium-low or Low – the lowest heat you can manage and still maintain a gentle simmer – and cover the pan with a lid or foil. Cook sprouts for 10-15 minutes or until they are tender, but not mushy.

3) Remove lid (or foil), gently scoop out sprouts, and add cream to simmer for a few minutes to slightly thicken. Whisk in mustard until smooth. Do a taste test and add more seasoning or mustard as you prefer. Pour sauce over sprouts, sprinkle with parsley (if using) and serve immediately. Will serve 4 as side dish or 2 as main course.

Beezer’s Notes:

I think I say this for every Smitten Kitchen recipe, but Deb definitely knows what she’s doing! I cannot wait until her cookbook comes out – even if I have to catch a train back to the States to buy a copy. Speaking of her cookbook, Deb mentioned that she perfected this recipe too late for its inclusion. I’m very glad she still shared it on her blog because it really is “the cabbage equivalent of our favorite chicken dish”: the sauce is spot-on and has a zing that brightens up the earthy sprouts. I think I simmered my sprouts a tad too strongly because the smaller halves bordered on mushy, but most of them struck the perfect combo of tender yet toothsome. The chicken version of this dish is still my favorite I have to admit. Still, if you’re looking for a vegetarian version, are trying to mix things up a bit, or maybe just convince yourself (or kids, or spouse) that brussels sprouts really can be delicious then this is the dish for you.

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Roasted Cauliflower with Shiitake and Sage

Let’s hear it for the first natural sunlight photograph in months! Woohoo! Wow, it really does make a difference…and reminds me of just how much I’m missing living where I do. My apartment itself is really nice compared to most in our area, but it sits at the back of the house in between two significantly larger buildings. Direct sunlight just barely makes it in our windows for about one hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon. I even began taking vitamin D this winter on a recommendation from my doctor and was amazed at how much better I felt. If you live in New England or other areas that have more clouds than rays, you might want to look into it. More energy, better attitude, deeper sleep? Yes please!

Now, while the photograph above makes me very happy, I have to admit that I just plumb forgot to take any photos until that last one…oops. This recipe is ridiculously easy, though, so I have no doubt that you can make it yourself without the photo tutorial. It also originally came from Terry Walters‘ new book Clean Start that I am loving more every day. I am not a “clean foods” devotee, but I definitely agree with her return-to-the-source attitude and admire her skill at making whole food meals both easy and fun to cook. If you missed the Green Fries in the last post, go check them out – they’re from the same book.

Roasted Cauliflower with Shiitake and Sage

(adapted from Clean Start by Terry Walters)

Ingredients:

1   large head cauliflower

1   dozen Brussels sprouts

½   lb.   shiitake mushrooms

2   garlic cloves, peeled

¼   C   fresh sage leaves (no, my love affair with this herb isn’t over yet, haha)

¼   C   fresh oregano (or 1½ T dried)

2     t   coarse sea salt

¼   C   EVOO

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Prepare cauliflower by removing and discarding outer leaves and inner stems. Cut florets into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Prepare sprouts by cutting away and discarding dry ends. Half sprouts (or quarter them if they are large) and add to cauliflower. Remove stems from mushrooms, slice into ¼” strips, and add to veggies.
  3. With food processor running, drop in garlic and process until minced. Add sage, oregano, salt, and oil and pulse to chop herbs and blend ingredients. Remove from processor and pour over vegetables. Toss veggies gently to coat evenly. Transfer to baking dish and roast for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, toss to redistribute and prevent burning. Return to oven and roast for an additional 15 – 20 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Remove from oven and serve.

Beezer’s Notes:

You know, I wouldn’t have made this recipe if I didn’t think it would be tasty. That said, I really underestimated just how tasty roasted cauliflower, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts could be! The sprouts themselves caused me some anxiety because I have never ever prepared them before. What if I failed and they became all mushy? What if they cooked up fine but I hated the taste? I would be doomed to buy such a simple veggie from more talented cooks for the rest of my life!! …ok, maybe that’s a little overly-dramatic, but I was still too chicken to try cooking them until I read this recipe. And you know what? They turned out great!

Flavor combinations are really what make this dish a winner. The sweet sage/oregano blend really pulls all the earthy flavors together and balanced out the salt. While I thought this would be more of a veggie side for dinner, the depth of flavor in this dish allows it to stand front and center as the main course if you want – just serve it over rice or (as the source recipe suggests) with lentils and you’ve got yourself a hearty meal sans meat.

Overall Enjoyment: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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