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Lemon-Marinated Brussels Sprouts
At this time of year, I'm mad for Brussels sprouts. After the first frost is when these tightly furled little cabbages really come into their own, as the cold makes them sweeter. Brussels sprouts stay delicious and fresh through the winter, and their vibrant color is welcome during the cold months when it seems that there are no green vegetables left. (To take fullest advantage of their sweetness and freshness, buy your sprouts on the stalk, if possible.) They will be gone as soon as spring gets close, but until then I could eat them three times a week.
I love the easy recipe that follows for Lemon-Marinated Brussels Sprouts With Parsley and Shallots, first of all because it brings color to the winter table. But it's also a wonderful make-ahead recipe, and the sprouts get better and better as they sit in the refrigerator. Let them come to room temperature before serving.
Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts and Fried Capers was inspired by the warm salad of Brussels sprouts leaves with fried capers and hazelnuts at Contigo, a great Spanish and Catalan restaurant in San Francisco. I had a very memorable meal there last year, but it was this dish that took the top prize -- fresh, warm and interesting. The recipe below riffs off that one but sticks to a slightly easier preparation by hashing the sprouts (just chop them up fine, or use a mandoline).
If you don't like Brussels sprouts, maybe you just haven't had them prepared the right way. Here are some surefire ways to taste them at their best.
-- Blanched and tossed with olive oil. Brussels sprouts are, perhaps, at their most appealing when they are crisp and crunchy. Don't overcook them; just blanch them quickly, then toss with lemon and olive oil in a fresh salad with shallots.
-- With beets. Brussels sprouts' cruciferous flavor is wonderful when paired with the sweeter, mellower beet. How about a dish of sprouts and golden beets?
-- Roasted. This is perhaps the easiest way to enjoy Brussels sprouts at their best.
-- Shredded, in a salad. Like their larger sibling, the cabbage, sprouts are great shredded in raw salads.
-- Wrapped in bacon (or pancetta). Everything is better with bacon, and Brussels sprouts are no exception, especially when garnished with almonds. Wonderful little bites!
Lemon-Marinated Brussels Sprouts With Parsley and Shallots
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
Fresh-ground black pepper
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine
4 large cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup olive oil
Clean the Brussels sprouts and trim off the bottom 1/4 inch of their core, removing any loose leaves as you do so. Pierce their cores with a small paring knife or a vegetable peeler.
Fill a large bowl with cold water and set it aside or in the sink. Bring an inch of salted water to boil in a large pot. Add the sprouts and cover. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the sprouts are just barely tender. Cut one in half to check. Drain the sprouts and plunge immediately into the bowl of cold water. Leave them there for a few moments and then drain again.
Cut the sprouts in half and put in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then toss with the lemon zest, shallots, parsley and minced garlic.
Make the dressing: Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together vigorously until thick and pale yellow.
Pour the dressing over and toss. Refrigerate for at least an hour -- but be aware that these are really better a day after cooking.
Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts and Fried Capers
1 pound small Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup capers, well-drained
1 lemon, squeezed for juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Remove any loose or yellow leaves from the Brussels sprouts, and slice each sprout in half from top to bottom. Then chop them roughly into shreds, or hash them in a food processor.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the chopped hazelnuts. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan frequently. When the nuts are turning golden brown and smelling toasty, remove them from the pan and toss with the hashed Brussels sprouts.
Add the olive oil to the pan and set it over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the capers. (Stand back and be careful; the oil will spit and splutter up!) Fry the capers for about 60 seconds, or until they start opening like little flower buds.
Add the Brussels sprouts and hazelnuts back in to the pan. Stir thoroughly to coat the sprouts with the oil and to mix in the capers. Pour in the lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the sprouts are tender but still snappy. Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
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