Monday, November 24, 2008

Well, eat some brussels sprouts

So Thanksgiving is in three short days. Though with the way I've been cooking around here recently, it's like it's been Thanksgiving all month. The fridge is stocked -- overflowing, even -- with autumnal dishes. Some of them (like the fregula gratin and the breadsticks) I've frozen, to be reheated the day of the feast. Others were consumed so quickly that there was not time to contemplate any sort of long-term storage. And even though I could subsist on leftovers for the foreseeable future, still I press on with new dishes. Because there are so many recipes to share with you all.

Today I offer a side dish that's a little brighter, a little leaner, a little lighter. Something green to cut through the mounds of carbohydrates and layers of oozing gratin sure to find their way onto your Thanksgiving plate. Something healthy, even. Heavens! Something healthy.

You know, I am always impressed and intrigued by those well-balanced souls who go running, or walking, or elliptical-ing, on Thanksgiving morning. You know those people: the ones who get in their cardio, pre-gigantic meal, while the rest of us get into our "spreadin'-out clothes"
(Mom's phrase to describe any loose-fitting clothing that can comfortably accommodate a large meal). This recipe, for brussels sprouts with lemon and pistachios, is for those healthy folk among us. Even though said folk don't necessarily need a healthier side dish, as their anticipatory cardio is a license to guilt-free consumption. But still. We all strive to be more fit, to make healthier food choices. In the spirit of wellness, well, eat some brussels sprouts.

But don't worry: eating these sprouts is no chore. On the contrary, they are yummy -- tender and soft and punctuated by the citrusy tang of lemon and the singular sharp flavor of pistachios, a tasty foil to the sprouts' slight bitterness. They're cooked very rapidly in grapeseed oil, an oil which is believed to lower "bad" cholesterol. These brussels sprouts just look so pretty, sitting in a relaxed pile next to the mountain of mashed potatoes on your plate. Looking up at you and reminding you to maybe take a walk after dinner.

Well, after dessert, at least.


Adapted from "Bon Appetit"

This recipe, as written, calls for the brussels sprouts to be separated, leaf by leaf. If you find this task to be tedious, which is a totally reasonable conclusion, feel free to slice the sprouts thinly. Personally, I like the way the individual leaves serve as little cups, holding pistachios and little drops of lemon juice. But it's your call; prep the sprouts as you will.

The prep is the time-consuming part of this recipe. Once you're ready to cook, the whole dish only takes about 5 minutes, start to finish.

3 T. grapeseed oil
3 T. minced shallot
2 lbs. brussels sprouts, leaves separated from cores (cores discarded)
3/4 c. shelled salted pistachios
2 T. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 t. freshly-cracked black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the brussels sprouts and pistachios and sauté until the leaves begin to soften but are still bright green, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and pepper.

Transfer to bowl and serve warm.

Makes 6 servings.

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