Brussels Jump to the Favorite List

ALMOND AND OLIVE STUFFED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Almond Olive Stuffed Brussels Sprouts copyAfter watching dinner guests take a pass when plain, steamed Brussels sprouts came to the table, I became aware they were not on everyone’s list of favorite vegetables. But when I stuffed them and served them as an eye-appealing appetizer, they proved their mojo.

This recipe also just happens to be one that’s in my Vegan for the Holidays Vegan Holidays highrescookbook. It’s in the Christmas section, but don’t pay any attention to that. Serve them all season long. They’re perfect for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Years, too!

I’ve also noticed an encouraging new trend in recent years. Attitudes are changing about green vegetables as the vegan message about their health benefits jumps into the mainstream. How nice to see the turnabout, especially for Brussels, a vegetable that used to be left languishing on the plate at the end of the meal.

Today Brussels sprouts have climbed pretty close to the top of the favorite list. At farmer’s markets and some of the more vegetable-savvy groceries, they come to market still attached to their tall, thick stalks and looking very perky and inviting.

Last year, just before Thanksgiving, those 2-foot long stalks showed up at my local Trader Joe’s market. While checking out, I couldn’t help noticing how popular they’ve become. About every third shopping cart had a stalk of Brussels. I bought two of them, knowing this recipe was sitting on my kitchen counter waiting for me to dig right in.

ALMOND AND OLIVE STUFFED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

20 fresh Brussels sprouts

1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped

1 (13.8-ounce) can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained

20 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

10 jumbo pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 to 3/4 cup Homemade Parmesan or prepared vegan Parmesan

6 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters, for garnish

 

  1. Fill a 4-quart saucepan two-thirds full with water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, trim the Brussels sprouts stems and discard. Cut the sprouts in half-lengthwise. Plunge the sprout halves into boiling water in batches and boil for 1 1/2 minutes, or until they are just tender but still hold their shape. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels and repeat the process until all the sprouts are tender.
  1. Using a serrated grapefruit or paring knife, carefully scoop out the centers of the sprouts to create a cavity. Reserve the centers for another r recipe.
  1. To make the stuffing, put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they form a coarse meal, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Transfer to a large bowl.
  1. Put the artichoke hearts in the food processor. Process until they are coarsely chopped. Add them to the bowl with the almond meal.
  1. Put the olives, shallot, and garlic in the food processor. Process briefly, just until chunky. Add the olive mixture to the bowl with the artichokes and almonds. Mix well. If the stuffing seems too dry, add 1 to 3 teaspoons of water to moisten.
  1. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the stuffing into the cavity of each sprout half. Sprinkle with the Homemade Parmesan and garnish each with a cherry tomato quarter if desired. Serve at room temperature or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  1. To serve warm, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the stuffed sprouts on the prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or just until heated through. Garnish each with a cherry tomato quarter if desired. Transfer to a serving platter.
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A Delicious Edible Wreath!

CHRISTMAS CARROT WREATH

Christmas Carrot Wreath2Something about the holiday season stirs up the creative juices and urges us to put extra energy into meals we prepare to celebrate with family and friends. On the one hand, we must admit we love the praise that comes when someone says, “Wow! That looks great!” It says others recognize  we’ve put a little extra love into the dish because we wanted to bring  something special to the table.

On the other hand, we simply love the process of creativity and thoroughly enjoy puttering in the kitchen to come up with a dish that’s our very own creation. And we don’t mind spending extra time to play with seasonings until our creation zings with flavor! Because I was so inspired by foods of the holiday season, I created my Vegan for the Holidays cookbook. This recipe is one of the tasty treasures.Vegan Holidays highres

Our final effort goes into making our masterpiece look as magnificent and enticing as it tastes–a little garnish of mint sprigs or a fluff of shredded purple cabbage, perhaps a sprinkle of ground nuts–and we’ve relished every moment spent in our favorite comfy niche, the kitchen.

The Christmas Carrot Wreath is one of those creations I envisioned. It definitely took a few tries before it came together, but it was time well spent. I learned lots in the process (we always do, don’t we?).

I’ll be playing more with the garnishing–I know that needs work. And I’ll re-post the new, enhanced photo as the season progresses. For now, enjoy the dish. It’s never failed to receive praise.

You’ll be tempted to sing “Deck the Halls” when this golden wreath comes to the table. Baked in a ring mold, this carrot dish makes a unique accompaniment to any entree. It’s deliciously moist, delicately sweet, and has a texture reminiscent of a light, airy muffin. Prepare it in advance and reheat it briefly by covering it with aluminum foil, and tucking it into a preheated 350-degree F. oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

CHRISTMAS CARROT WREATH

Yield: 6 servings

3/4 pound carrots (about 3 large), peeled and sliced

1/2 cup vanilla or plain soymilk

1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or distilled vinegar

1/3 cup organic canola oil

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 teaspoon baking powderChristmas Carrot Wreath2

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Garnish

1 bunch parsley, cilantro, or mint

1/3 cup diced red bell pepper

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly oil a 4-cup metal ring mold. Set aside.
  2. Put the carrots in a covered 2-quart saucepan with enough water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil, immediately decrease the heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the carrots are fork tender.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the soymilk and vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to thicken slightly. Stir in the oil, lemon juice, and almond extract; set aside.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, drain the carrots thoroughly and transfer them to a bowl. Mash them well with a fork or potato masher. Measure 1 cup of the mashed carrots and set aside. Use the remaining carrots for another recipe.
  5. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and mix well.
  6. Add the mashed carrots and wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spoon the carrot batter into the prepared mold and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Invert the mold onto a serving platter.
  7. To garnish, form a wreath of green herbs around the perimeter of the serving platter, if desired. Sprinkle with the diced red bell pepper and sliced almonds. Cut into portions and serve.

Note:

The ring mold I use is an old-fashioned aluminum jello mold made to look like copper. A Bundt pan or spring-form pan with a tube in the center would also work.  An angel-food cake pan might work, but it’s best to use a shallow metal mold for ease in unmolding the wreath.