Brussels Sprouts, Fennel and LeeksNovember 11, 2015 By Cathy — 2 Comments
Roasted brussels sprouts, fennel and leeks are the perfect side dish for your Thanksgiving table.
It has been a breathtaking fall in the northeast; warm temperatures, brilliant foliage and little rain, making the seasonal transition pretty painless this year. But as cooler temperatures take hold and the days get shorter, I start to crave comforting dishes…warm soups and stews, earthy flavors and caramelized vegetables.
Of course no meal is more satisfying or comforting than Thanksgiving and flavorful side dishes are just as important as a gorgeous, juicy bird. I love balance on the table; not every dish can be super rich or cinamonny sweet. A good place to add in a little spice or tanginess is with roasted root vegetables.
Brussels sprouts have had a resurgence in recent years. As a kid, I went tearing into the other room at the mere mention of the words, but now it’s often times the first item I order when I’m enjoying a nice dinner out. They are delicious sautéed with bacon, steamed and tossed with butter or (my favorite) crisped and caramelized in the oven.
The brussels sprouts that I’ll serve this Thanksgiving are roasted with fennel and leeks and have a pinch of spice and a bite of vinegar. I whisk up a vinaigrette highlighted by cider vinegar and Chinese five spice and toss it with the vegetables that get roasted in a hot oven until golden brown and tender. If you haven’t introduced Chinese five spice into your cooking arsenal, now is the time. It’s blend of star anise, cloves, fennel, Szechuan peppercorns and cinnamon lends itself well to root vegetables and fall flavors. This simple vinaigrette doesn’t overshadow the natural flavors of the vegetables but instead enhances and highlights them.
While my kids haven’t completely warmed to the idea of these “little cabbages” nestled next to their turkey and mashed potatoes, I have a feeling that this dish will convince the brussels sprouts-hating kid in you to come running back to the table.
- 1½ pounds brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed, bruised or browned outer leaves removed, then halved
- 1 large fennel bulb, core removed and thinly sliced
- 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed thoroughly
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Combine oil, vinegar, brown sugar, five spice, salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk well.
- Add brussels sprouts, fennel and leeks to the bowl and gently toss to coat.
- Spread vegetables on a parchment-lined sheet pan and roast for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender.
- Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve immediately.