Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Cozy Fall Side Dish - Brussels Sprouts, with Gnocchi, Pine Nuts and a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

I’ll tell you what - the memories I have of Brussels sprouts from growing up are so awful that I’m surprised I ever ventured to try them again. My mom is a wonderful cook, so why she would have made me eat those hard, bland, bitter things is beyond me. When cooked properly, these mini cabbages are crisp, interestingly textured and begging to be paired with cozy fall accompaniments, which is just what I did recently when I was inspired to create this rustic dish. I cut the Brussels sprouts in half, boiled them for just 6 minutes then finished them in a warm brown butter and sage sauce, with gnocchi and pine nuts. The end result had me tooting my own horn and wishing I had made more so I could enjoy the leftovers today. Trust me, this is ridiculously easy to make and sure to gets lots of oohs and ahs, though you might love it so much that you end up keeping the dish all to yourself!

Active time – so short it doesn’t bear mentioning!
Feeds: 3 people when served as a side, though I easily could have gobbled this all up myself or eaten it as an entrée if I were feeling a little bit vegetal
Note: Feel free to double or triple the recipe depending on how many mouths you are feeding and how ravenous you are

1 lb of Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons of salted butter
A hearty handful of fresh sage, about ¼ cup, roughly chopped
1 cup potato gnocchi (though butter nut squash gnocchi would also be lovely) – feel free to use a bit more if the fall air has got you craving a heavier dish
¼ cup of pine nuts (toasted)
Salt and pepper to taste

Simple Steps:
Wash, cut off the stems of the Brussels sprouts, then cut in half. Bring salted water to a boil and place sprouts in boiling water for 6 minutes. Sprouts should be bright green when done. Remove pot from water and drain sprouts. Set them aside.

Boil gnocchi per the instructions on the package, though shave off a minute as they will continue cooking in the sauce afterward. Drain and set aside.

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat (be careful not to burn the butter). Once the butter is melted and just begins to brown, add the chopped sage to the saucepan letting it get a bit crispy. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan, and stir until well coated with the brown butter and sage, then add the cooked gnocchi. Gently mix everything together, adding a generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper. Take the saucepan off the heat and serve hot.

If you’re feeling rather decadent go ahead and add crispy bacon or pancetta and a bit of shaved parmesan on top then send me the pictures so I can swoon over your perfect fall side. You may want to pair it with a vegetable friendly wine like the Austrian Grüner Veltliner, but you’ll find that Brussels sprouts are robust enough to handle a rustic red like Syrah, which is a perfect companion for a chilly fall night.

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