07 November 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla Pecan Butter

The Brussels sprout has in the last year  become my favorite winter vegetable. It is healthy, it is green, it is not Kale or Broccoli, or any of these other vegetables with their own PR team behind them(that I know of). And so, in the run-up to the holiday season I am indulging in my love of all things Brussels Sprouts with a Brussels-Sprouts-Palooza. 

This first recipe, courtesy of Bobby Flay, has so many flavors layered on top of it that you can easily forget you started with the humble Brussels Sprout. For this reason, I made the dish twice before presenting it here. The first attempt kept to my preferred method of roasting sprouts -- cutting each into thirds so that they resemble thick wafers of pale jade -- crisped on a large baking sheet large enough to hold them all into a single layer and browned to my own liking. The end product with its layering of citrus, pomegranate, and pecan vanilla butter was a bit too fruity-nutty for me in the end -- almost like a wedge of orange pecan bread rather than a vegetable -- so with a second version I allowed the sprouts to remain more in tact, cutting them only in half, anticipating they would maintain more of their sprout integrity this way. This version worked better in reducing the dessert feel of this recipe. I also swapped out pomegranate seeds for whole cranberries, roasting them along with the Sprouts. The recipe is fairly forgiving and open to various nut/fruit substitutions. It also works well for children or people who think they dislike sprouts. 

I would recommend using a nice quality cultured or European style butter for the butter compote, and myself used a salted version the second time around with this recipe as it brings out the pecan flavor a bit more. However be careful to not over salt the resulting sprouts themselves.  
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla Pecans
Adapted from Bobby Flay
6 tablespoons salted butter, slightly softened
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/3 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in halfs
3 tablespoons canola or olive oil
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1/2 cup whole cranberries
1 lime, finely zested
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

In a small bowl, combine the butter and seeds from the vanilla bean. Fold in the pecans and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Place the Brussels Sprouts and cranberries on a large roasting pan or cookie sheet and toss with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until lightly golden brown, 20 minutes. Remove sprouts from the oven and drizzle with the pomegranate molasses, stirring to coat them all with the molasses. Return the pan to the oven and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes longer. 

Transfer the sprouts to a large bowl, add the lime and orange zests and toss. Transfer to a platter and top with large quantities of the vanilla-pecan butter and a bit more salt and pepper to taste.

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