Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays ever for foodies…delicious dishes in mass quantity, augmented by amazing aromas filling the house all day. And of course the best part is the gravy made from fresh turkey drippings and drizzled over almost everything on the plate. But aside from the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy, I do love great vegetable side dishes. And of all the Fall/Winter vegetables that can grace a Thanksgiving table, brussels sprouts are under-appreciated.
Brussels sprouts have earned a reputation as bitter to many, which can definitely be true. But there are many preparations that remove the bitterness, or frankly use it to advantage, complemented by sweet and or sour flavors.
So naturally, I decided brussels sprouts would be my contribution to this year’s holiday table. Also on our table were two turkeys – one roasted tradition-style in the oven, the other roasted in the wood burning oven outdoors, which lent it a lovely smokey flavor. Of course we had the requisite mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and fresh-made cranberry sauce. My mom made Thomas Keller’s Nante carrot stew, which was fabulous. And then there were my brussels sprouts, roasted in the oven and tossed with a red wine vinaigrette made with garlic and anchovy paste, toasted walnuts and chopped shallots. A little honey in the dressing added that needed sweetness.
Here is the recipe for you to enjoy with your Thanksgiving leftovers or any other meal when they are in season. This recipe serves 6 as a side dish, but can be halved or doubled to accommodate your crowd.
2 pounds brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed and outermost leaves removed
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
3 shallots, finely chopped
2/3 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted
red wine vinaigrette (recipe below)
For red wine vinaigrette:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp anchovy paste
2 Tbsp capers, drained and chopped
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Quarter the trimmed brussels sprouts, and toss with the 1/4 cup olive oil and salt & pepper. Spread on a baking sheet (or more than one if needed so that they’re in a single layer) and roast in the oven until tender and nicely caramelized, about 30 minutes. Turn them once or twice with a spatula to keep them cooking evenly.
While the brussels sprouts are roasting, make the vinaigrette, by mixing all ingredients in a measuring cup and whisking until blended and nicely emulsified.
When the brussels sprouts are done, put them in a serving bowl, add the walnuts and shallots and mix. Add half the dressing and toss, then taste for flavors and add more dressing until you have the desired flavor. Reserve remaining dressing and allow brussels sprouts to sit for at least 10 minutes, then taste again (they will have absorbed some of the dressing by now), and add more dressing if you like. Serve warm or at room temperature as desired.