If you aren’t a fan of whole brussels sprouts, try them shredded! These quick-sauteed shredded brussels sprouts tossed with crisp bacon, toasted walnuts, apple cider vinegar, and a touch of brown sugar are a delicious, healthy, and satisfying fall side dish.
It’s time for Fall Fest again and this week we’re celebrating brassicas – a genus of plants that includes cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and more. I chose to focus on brussels sprouts because they are currently available on the stalk and I think it’s fun to take home a giant, awkward stalk of brussels sprouts!
Up until a few years ago, I had never even seen brussels sprouts on the stalk. I really hadn’t thought too much about how they grew – I guess I assumed they grew out of the ground like tiny little heads of cabbage. Thinking about it now, that seems a little silly, but you have to admit that the way they grow on this crazy stalk is a little silly looking, too!
I’m a sucker for strange looking produce, and as long as they seem fresh, I can never resist buying a hefty club of brussels sprouts when I see them at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, the local supermarket, or a Farmer’s Market – yep, they’re sold pretty much everywhere around here during the fall.
Harvesting the sprouts from the stalk is much simpler than you might think. Don’t make the mistake I did the first time I was presented with the challenge. The sprouts don’t need to be cut off with a knife – it’s much easier (and safer) to snap them off with your fingers. It takes no time at all and you’ll end up with a big bowl of beautiful, fresh brussels sprouts – my stalk yielded close to two pounds.
The sprouts will probably range in size from teeny tiny to very large, so if you’re cooking them whole, you might want to sort them according to size and start cooking the larger ones first. If you’re going to shred them like I did, size doesn’t matter.
I had this great plan for my brussels sprouts – I wanted to cook them with shredded apple and onion in a bit of bacon fat then toss in some cider vinegar, chopped walnuts, and blue cheese. I had been dreaming about it all day. But when the time came to actually make the dish, I realized I was out of both apples and blue cheese!
Oh well, at least I had some good bacon and a bag full of fresh walnuts from my uncle’s ranch. I simplified the recipe to shredded brussels sprouts with bacon and walnuts and continued.
I rinsed the sprouts, trimmed the bottoms, and removed any ugly outer leaves (there weren’t many – these were a gorgeous bunch of brussels sprouts). I briefly thought about slicing them by hand but laziness took over and I decided to send them through the slicing blade of my food processor instead. The Cuisinart accomplished the task in about a minute.
Since the walnuts were still in the shell, I got out the hammer and cracked enough to equal about half a cup (plus enough to snack on while cooking). If you’ve never had good, fresh walnuts, you really need to find some. The flavor is amazing – rich and sweet with absolutely no bitterness.
If you don’t have a nutcracker, no problem, it’s simple to open them with a hammer. Just hold the nut on a hard surface with the pointed tip facing up and hit the top with the hammer (not too hard) until it cracks open. It will split in half or into four pieces and you can pick the walnuts out with your fingers (or a fork if they’re being stubborn).
I toasted the walnuts at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes before chopping and adding to the sprouts. I also ended up adding some sugar to the cider vinegar dressing since I didn’t have apples to provide the sweetness I was looking for.
I added a drizzle of walnut oil since I had some handy, but you could use a neutral-flavored oil or even a splash of apple cider to cut the vinegar in the dressing. I loved the simple combination of brussels sprouts, bacon, and walnuts and didn’t even miss the extra ingredients I had planned on using.
But I’m still going to try it with apples and blue cheese next time!
More Brassicas from the Fall Fest Gang:
- Caron at San Diego Foodstuff: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar
- Food Network UK: Why I Love Cabbage Soup
- Todd and Diane at White on Rice Couple: Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Mint
- Paige at The Sister Project: Brussels Sprouts to Convert Even the Most Determined Haters
- Liz at Healthy Eats: Kale 5 Ways (Including Kale Chips!)
- Alison at Food2: All About Broccoli and Cauliflower
- Michelle at Cooking Channel: Cauliflower with Sweet Potatoes
- Kirsten at Food Network: Cheesy Brussels Sprouts
- Caroline at Caroline at The Wright Recipes: Fresh Brussels Sprout Salad with Pears and Blue Cheese
- Alana at Eating From the Ground Up: Brussels Sprouts Gratin
- Gilded Fork: Bodacious Brassicas
Summer/Fall Fest 2010 Posting Schedule
7/28: Cukes and Zukes
8/11: Herbs, Greens, and Beans
8/18: Stone Fruit – I missed this one!
9/1: Sweet and Spicy Peppers
9/15: White (or colorful “white”…but not sweet) Potatoes
10/6: Fall Salads
10/13: Pumpkin + Winter Squash – I missed this one!
10/27: “Mad Stash” (as in what you’re shoving in freezer/jars/dehydrator, etc.)
11/3: Root veggies
11/10: Brassicas: incl. Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage or other
11/17: Sweet Potatoes