Friday, September 12, 2008

A Warm Salad of Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

We love love love Brussels sprouts, but I've discovered from my client food questionnaires that these little "Barbie cabbages" are one of the least popular of vegetables. I imagine that is because they are often overcooked and end up pale gray-green and mushy.

Brussels sprouts are available year-round in the frozen vegetable section of your local supermarket, and practically year-round in the fresh produce aisle.

I love it when I find them still on the stalk, as if they were just cut fresh from the garden. If you are lucky enough to find them this way in the late fall or early winter (when they are in season) just slice each sprout from the stalk, peel away any loose leaves, rinse well and steam in a bit of salted water in a saucepan or in the microwave until just barely tender when you pierce the stem end. They will continue cooking a bit after removing from the heat so don't cook them too long or they will end up that mushy texture that none of us likes. Then proceed with the following recipe. You can start with frozen sprouts, too...just cook them on high power in the microwave for 4 minutes and then continue with this recipe.

A Warm Salad of Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

For Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette*:
1/4 c. Vermont amber maple syrup
1/4 c. good quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. Canola or other neutral vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in mini-blender or small bowl and whisk until emulsified. Reserve.

For Brussels Sprouts:
1 lb. steamed Brussels sprouts, cooked till barely tender
3 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
3 T. Vermont amber maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut each sprout in half and place on layered paper towels, cut side down, to drain. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, cook bacon till crisp. Remove to paper towels and drain. Strain bacon fat to remove solids and return 2 T. of the fat to the skillet. Heat over medium-high heat and add sprouts, cut side down. Cook till golden brown and then add maple syrup. Stir to coat and cook a bit longer until glazed. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange on individual salad plates, garnish with crumbled bacon and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

*This recipe for Maple-Balsamic vinaigrette was shared with me by my friend and colleague Kim Onstott, of Your Place Gourmet personal chef service in Estrella Mountain Ranch, Arizona.

Bon App├ętit!
Chef Debbie

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