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A Trip to Chualar
“I thought we’d go for a little trip.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
The fields of Brussels sprouts growing just south of Salinas in Chualar were splashed with giant drops of morning dew. Green, glinting of silver with crevasses of navy blue shadows, a forest of broad leaves hid the sprouts from view. Watching the morning fog climb over the tips of the Santa Lucia’s Athena and I were given a tour of Taylor Farms Brussels sprouts fields. When standing in the furrows, the tops of the Brussels sprouts plants reached our thighs. Sheltered by thick broad leaves the sprouts grow on the plants main stalk. The individual sprouts can not be seen until the dark green leaves are moved to reveal the central stem of the plant. The sprouts at the bottom of the plant mature first; necessitating several passes by the harvesting crews as the sprouts mature. The sample of Taylor Farms trimmed and washed Brussels sprouts I brought home was a pleasure to cook with. Fresh, bright green and with virtually no prep required I began my sprouts cooking adventure. Cooking with fresh Salinas Valley produce has never been easier!
My failproof method for cooking Brussels sprouts is roasting with olive oil, salt and pepper. When vegetables are roasted they are transformed from the mundane to the sublime. All the strongest flavored vegetables, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and even radicchio taste more vivid and yet amazingly sweet when roasted. I had read about roasting Brussels sprouts with grapes but had not tried the recipe. I was searching for a vegetable recipe that had enough flavor and glamour to stand beside a holiday turkey, ham or roast and its’ army of side dishes without scoops of butter, cream or cheese. Taking second helpings, my taste testers were seduced by the combination of creamy Brussels sprouts with crispy edges paired with the sublime pop of sweetness from the roasted grapes. This is a sure sign that Brussels sprouts have found a place at our holiday feast. With only two tablespoons of olive oil the recipe is not loaded with calories and the flavor integrity of the sprouts and grapes is intensified by roasting. Dappled in red and green this sweet and sassy vegetable dish would be an excellent choice for a Christmas feast.
Fresh Brussels sprouts are compact and bright green without withered or yellow leaves. The freshest sprouts are still white and green at the base where the sprout was severed from the plant. If the base has turned light brown, just trim off that portion.
|1lb||large red seedless grapes|
|1t||fennel seed, crushed or roughly chopped|
- Heat the oven to 425°. Line a large sheet pan with parchment or oil the pan.
- Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half lengthwise, through the core. After cutting they should be roughly the same size as the grapes.
- In a large bowl combine the Brussels sprouts, whole seedless grapes, olive oil, salt, pepper and fennel seed. Toss to coat the Brussels sprouts and grapes with the oil and spices.
- Spread the sprouts and grapes in a single layer on the sheet pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the sprouts and grapes. Return them to the oven to finish roasting. When cooked the sprouts can be easily pierced with a fork. They will be caramelized with a deep chocolate color on the edges. The grapes will shrink a bit, the flavor becoming concentrated while softening in color. Serve while warm.
This is not a sponsored post. The opinions are my own. I was given some tasty Brussels sprouts to share with you.