Saturday, October 11, 2014

Brussels sprouts with Avocado and Toasted Pecans

Brussels sprouts are a favorite this time of year. I like to buy them on the whole stalk when possible, I think they stay fresher, like cut flowers. They pop right off the stalk and the ends of the sprouts are fresh, meaning you don't have to trim the ends off! 

Despite their bad reputation with children, I always liked brussels sprouts. Im sure they were mostly frozen then, I remember them coming out of a box. My sister, poor thing I keep telling stories about her, liked them also but ate them in the most memorable way. She would strip off the leaves, tasting them one at a time. In the time I had likley finished my plate, she would savor one sprout. She is the cutest.

I did want to trim off the outer leaves, they are less tender and then I know my sprouts are way clean! The diminutive leaves are easily pulled off when the sprout is sliced in half first. Which for this dish is just how we want them!
Now we have our sprouts, our mini cabbages, cut in half. 

I have made this more than twenty times. It was given to me by Andy, we used to work together, and as a habit shared the good recipes we made. I think of it as Andy's Brussles Sprouts, but he found it in Food & Wine. And now that I go look it up it is actually a recipe by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It is so clever and delicious, I haven't changed it at all except I skip the blanching step. No! I do, its one less pot to wash. Sometimes I think of adding anchovies. And sometimes I go heavy on the avocado. But honestly It is so good as is. 

The roasted sprouts are crisp tender. The avocado is creamy and the pecans are nutty and meaty. It was designed as a side dish. But I can eat just this for lunch, hot or cold.

Toasting the pecans is really important for the flavor. I have begun buying the toasted pieces of pecans at Trader Joe's because it is so easy. They do benefit from a warm up in the pan or oven to revive the flavors, but its not imperative if you are in a rush.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Avocado 
(Adapted from Jean-Georges' recipe)

  • 21/2 lb Brussels Sprouts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, or less.
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 1-2 avocados, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (dry or fresh, whatever!)
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°. 

Slice all the Brussels sprouts in half. Remove any outer leaves you dislike. Put onto a big baking pan or two, they should fit in one layer for the best browning action. Pour the olive oil onto the sprouts and salt liberally. Toss it all around so all sprouts are coated. Place sprouts cut-side down on the pan. 

Roast for 20 minutes. They should be crisp-tender. Remove pans from the oven.

Add the pecan pieces to the warm sprouts and toss around. so the flavors mingle well. 

Transfer the sprouts and nuts into a bowl. Add the avocado, balsamic vinegar, thyme and fresh ground pepper. Mix well. 

Serve hot, warm, room temperature or cold! Will keep for 4 days in the fridge.

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