I hated them with a purple passion, now I love them with a purple passion. I’m in awe of their form and function, the dignity with which the plant stands there looking ready for a stroll down the red carpet.
Whispers of magenta, green and dusky purple, mysterious languid leaves hovering protectively around florets at the center. What course of nature brought Brussels sprouts to this beauty?
They’re in fine form right now, haute couture of the plant world plunked down in the muddy garden. I don’t care what’s growing under those leaves or what they taste like, the plant itself has such panache it can just stand there and be gorgeous. But then I can be bowled over by certain things that might raise an eyebrow – a pile of rotting leaves, a certain stone, the gnarly root of horseradish . . . the leaves of Brussels sprouts. As if to prove my point I found a poem that speaks lyrically of the humble sprout. I know, amazing.
We eat seasonal, local fruit and vegetables every day if we’re lucky, chop them up, mangle them willy-nilly to fit our culinary desires, and often take for granted their innate physical beauty. Their artistic side so to speak.
I harvested sprouts for a pre-Thanksgiving taste and didn’t mess with them much. Simply steamed and dressed, they’re delicious. Best fresh, they should be available at Farmer’s Markets for the next few weeks. My backyard variety, Red Rubines, are different than the compact green ones commonly available at markets. They’re purple leafed, the florets are less compact, and a bowlful of hot pink when cooked and dressed.
Brussels Sprouts with Warm Vinaigrette Dressing
1 # of sprouts, shallots, butter, water, vegetable or chicken broth, apple cider or balsamic vinegar
Small florets can be left whole, larger ones cut in half/ With the lid on, steam the cleaned, trimmed and lightly salted sprouts in 2 C water, chicken and/or vegetable broth for 3 – 8 minutes until nearly fork tender – timing will vary according to size and density of sprouts so check periodically/ Remove from heat and drain, reserving 1 C of cooking liquid/ While sprouts are cooking, finely chop 2 T shallots/ Cook shallots briefly in 1 T butter on low heat/ Add steamed and drained sprouts to butter and shallots, turn off heat and let sit.
In a non-reactive pan simmer and reduce the 1 C of reserved liquid to 1/3 C/ Then add 1 T cider or balsamic vinegar along with 1 T apple cider/ Continue to simmer and reduce to about 1/4 C liquid/ Total reduction time takes about 8-10 minutes and happens most efficiently in a broader-based pan – keep an eye on it/ Turn off heat, whisk in 2 T cold butter/ Pour this warm vinaigrette over Brussels sprouts and shallots, turn low heat back on briefly while gently tossing sprouts to coat/ Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Yes, of course, bacon could be included with the shallots and butter.
There’s a plant in the backyard that thinks it’s red carpet material. Culinarily speaking, perhaps so. Bon Appetite.