Before we conclude Thanksgiving 2013, let us take a moment to recognize a petite powerhouse of the holiday table – Brussels sprouts.
Both adored and reviled, the one thing Brussels sprouts will never evoke is indifference. The little cabbage-like buds may have once been cultivated in ancient Rome. While the rich, earthy, complex flavor is often too strong for a young palate, many adults become die-hard fans.
Regardless of how you feel about the taste, at the CSA, just harvested Brussels sprouts are a showstopper. My mom describes the stalks as resembling musical sleigh bells. At Restoration Farm, Brussels sprouts are a “micro crop.” They take up quite a bit of valuable land, so a smaller patch is planted later in the season and made available at the annual Thanksgiving distribution for members who have renewed for the upcoming season.
The mountains of sprouts at the Thanksgiving distribution inspired awe, admiration and delight from members.
The little buds snapped easily off the stem, and were tender and sweet – a lovely treat to complete the 2013 growing season.
One of my favorite recipes for Brussels sprouts comes from chef Julia Shanks, the co-author of “The Farmer’s Kitchen – The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Your CSA and Farmers’ Market Foods.” Brussels sprouts are sautéed with garlic and oil and then tossed with lemon juice and quinoa.
I leave the sprouts in the pan as long as possible until they are deliciously crispy, brown and caramelized.
Quinoa with Roasted Brussels Sprouts (adapted from “The Farmer’s Kitchen” by Brett Grohsgal and Julia Shanks)
½ cup quinoa
½ pound Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil (my olive oil was infused with lemon)
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin or chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup toasted, slivered almonds (optional)
Rinse quinoa under cold water. Put in a small saucepot and cover with water. Add 1teaspoon salt. Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the quinoa has popped and is cooked through.
Meanwhile, cut Brussels sprouts in half. If sprouts are larger, slice thin.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil and let heat for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until aromatic. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring regularly until they are bright green and soft (I covered the pan and turned down the heat, stirring occasionally and allowing the sprouts to get crispy-brown). Remove from heat.
When quinoa is cooked, drain excess water. Toss with Brussels sprouts. Add juice from ½ lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in almonds, if using.
For more on the annual Restoration Farm Thanksgiving celebration, visit Edible Long Island.