As I was walking over to my newly-assigned garden plot at Green Rows of Waltham, I took a moment to watch the birds combing what appeared to be a field of old Brussels sprouts stalks at the farm. It was then that I remembered purchasing a big bag of sprouts, now hiding in the depths of my refrigerator, a week or so prior. Those little green knobs of health needed to get cooked up A-sap, before they had a chance to turn yellow on me and become fodder for the compost bin.
The chill in the April air inspired thoughts of a rich and creamy casserole, while the nutrition student in me begged for a lighter dish which could be eaten later, unheated. With more than enough sprouts on hand, I was able to satisfy both cravings and cook up the sprouts two ways.
Sweet & Crunchy Sprouts
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp sugar (I used maple syrup)
- 1 tbsp vinegar (optional; if you want a bit of tang)
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (can substitute hazelnuts or pecans)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- salt and pepper to taste
Wash, trim, and thinly slice the Brussels sprouts. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sprouts, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, sauteing for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and vinegar, if using, toss to combine, and cook for another minute. Add the walnuts and cranberries, and toss to combine. Delicious when served warm or chilled.
Brussels Sprout Gratin
Makes about 6-8 servings
- 1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk, room temperature (I used 1% milk fat)
- 1 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup toasted panko crumbs (optional, not shown)
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. As the water heats up, wash and trim the Brussels sprouts. When boiling, add the sprouts to the pot and cook until they are bright green and just beginning to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the sprouts with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and flour together over medium heat; whisk until smooth and bubbling, about a minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook, whisking frequently, until the sauce is thick and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Season with salt and lots of pepper.
Slice the sprouts in half and transfer them in an even layer into a glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour the sauce over the sprouts and then sprinkle with cheese; for added crunch, sprinkle panko crumbs over the cheese layer. Bake until the top is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 15-20 minutes.
Images by Rebekah Carter (2012). Recipes adapted from Sunny Anderson and Claire Robinson of the Food Network, respectively.