Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts (with Quinoa)

This is my post dedicated to the undersung hero of vegetables, the BRUSSEL SPROUT.

We've been eating a lot of them here at Casa Dena, happily, because these bad boys are in season right now! They're totally economical right now -- buy them by the stalkful!

I know, I know: you hate them. You tried them once and they were disgusting. Or you think you're supposed to hate them so you've never tried them.

But let me tell you, my friends -- you have never had them like this, and this preparation is what makes all the difference.

In short, it is: SO YUMMY!

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes. Of all time.

It's one of those that is just in my bones, that I could make with my eyes closed. I love that.

I love it because it means the dish is a part of me, and I love it because it means the cooking of it is easy. And I love it because when I make it, it comes out of my heart through my pores instead of through my right-brain filters.

I got the inspiration for this dish from a recipe I saw long ago in the Martha Stewart Living cookbook. As always, thank you, Martha!*

Dena's Balsamic Brussel Sprouts (with Quinoa)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 lb. brussels sprouts
1 large-ish red onion, sliced long and thin, with the grain (ie, from stem to tip)
~ 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (you're gonna eyeball it)

Optional Step 2 Ingredient:
2 cups quinoa, cooked (go here if you don't know how to cook it)
OR 1 lb pasta, cooked

Cook brussels sprouts in a pot of boiling water for about 7-10 minutes, or until they're bright green and tender. You want them to be cooked through, but NOT OVERCOOKED! It is this overcooked mushy sprout that gives brussels sprouts a very bad name. (As the good folks over at Martha Stewart's Dinner Tonight blog* mention, "overcooking creates that bitter taste that everyone hates.")

Drain in colander and rinse with cold water. Let them cool a bit, then cut the end of the stem off and remove any leaves that look like they need to go. Halve each sprout the long way -- from stem to head.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a non-non-stick pan (ie, stainless or cast iron) over medium-high heat, letting it get a little bubbly and hot before you do anything else. (The olive oil lets the butter get hotter than it normally would be able to, preventing the butter from browning.)

Put the brussels sprouts in the pan, flat side down. Now, don't touch them! I mean it -- leave those babies alone for about 5-7 minutes or so-ish, depending on how hot your stove is. You want them to brown and get that delicious sweet, nutty flavor going without burning. Your nose will tell you when they're done. (See what I mean? This is a good recipe to have in your bones.)

Once they're nicely browned, remove them from the pan and salt & pepper them.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp each of olive oil and butter to the pan and add the onion, stirring to pick up the lovely browned bits left by the sprouts. Stir every so often, letting the onion get translucent and soft, slightly brown.

Once the onion looks nice and soft, step back a little and add the balsamic! It will give a hiss and steam immediately, and you do not want that vinegary steam going up your nose. Trust me. Stir immediately and vigorously, getting all the onion in on that balsamicky goodness. Once it's all coated and has started to even thicken just a touch, remove from the heat and add the sprouts back in.

Toss and ENJOY!

Or, go to Optional Step 2:

Add the cooked quinoa to the pan, toss, season with salt & pepper, garnish with parmesan cheese, and be in HEAVEN.

If you really wanted to, you could substitute pasta for quinoa and have yourself a delicious pasta dish.

* I swear to you Martha Stewart doesn't pay me or force me to say these things. In fact, she has no idea I or this blog even exist. She's just that good. She knows of what she speaks, is all. Plus her recipes always work really well for me, so I constantly go back to them.


  1. I love Brussels sprouts and this looks so good!

  2. This recipe is simple, but outstanding. I have found that Israeli couscous also works nicely in the dish.

  3. This dish is fabulous. Don't be afraid to let those brussels brown!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin