Some time ago I read about a food philosophy called the Local Food Movement, which holds as an ideal “sustainably relying on consumption of food products that are locally grown.” The idea is that by purchasing goods produced in your local economy, you can support local farms and businesses and also discourage the long distance transportation of goods, which is harmful to the environment. Further, this movement is interested in promoting organic foods and local specialties, as well as heirloom varieties of vegetables and fruits that are not considered hardy enough to withstand long distance shipping conditions. I like the idea of supporting local farms and local products, especially here in California with the wonderful vineyards, olive groves, and fresh produce. But at the same time, I think it would be difficult to exclusively consume local produce, and probably more expensive. Also, I have to admit- part of me really enjoys the variety of produce available in our supermarkets year round thanks to globalization. But- because I am interested in local goods and fresh, wonderful produce, one of my favorite things to do on a Sunday is go to the local Farmer’s Market and wander around, looking for fresh, bright, colorful produce that calls to me. First I circle like a hawk, scouting out my prey, and then on my second round through the market, I begin filling my bag with various things. Fresh beets, REAL baby carrots with fronds (not those hateful things masquerading as “baby” carrots in the supermarket packages), purple cauliflower, broccolini, avocado, tomatoes… My market also has some wonderful stands specializing in Chinese vegetables where you can sort through a pile of enticing and unfamiliar greens, a honey stand with notes of rosemary, lavender, orange, homemade body soaps, fresh cut flowers, cheeses, even sausages. (Not my thing, but the variety is amazing.)
This Sunday some notable finds were beautiful broccoli rabe (there was a hand written recipe for a simple Italian pasta dish posted near it, which made it irresistable), delicate broccolini, some of the sweetest, freshest baby carrots imaginable, tiny baby brussels sprouts, deep purple beets, organic baby bok choy, red, red kale, mis-shapen but amazingly crisp apples, sweet round kabocha, seedless oranges with a crimson interior, tiny brown fuzzy kiwi… That first afternoon I made fruit salads and snacked on crunchy crisp infant carrots. Then last night, I used the broccolini and bok choy in Chinese stir frys last night, adding fried tofu to one dish, and serving them with jasmine rice.
But tonight, I decided to take my inspiration from the recipe posted at the market stall, and made a recipe from Food Network for Broccoli Rabe Sauce. I sauteed red onions and garlic, broccoli, salt, olive oil and tomatoes, then added some cooked Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Pasta Fusilli. [Note: This pasta is Gluten free and produced in Canada. There are some reports it is made for TJ by Tinkyada, but it is uncertain. What IS certain is that it is inexpensive, tasty, reasonably healthy and comes in three varieties- a penne, a spaghetti, and recently (Yay!) fusilli.] A little red pepper, freshly ground pepper, salt and just a few slivers of cheese as a garnish, and I had a lovely traditional Italian pasta dish. I also had some fresh brussels sprouts that were lurking in the back of my mind (and lurking in the refrigerator, waiting to realize their potential). I loved BytheBay’s roasted brussel sprouts, but something kept nudging my memory– a newspaper article I’d clipped out extolling the delights of maple syrup, including a very intriguing recipe for Maple glazed brussel sprouts… I looked through my recipe files (yes, I have files of cut out recipes, and you should see my stacks of cooking magazines- the shame, the shame!), and miraculously found the recipe. So, I rolled up my sleeves and threw together this tasty side dish.
Caramelized Maple Brussels Sprouts
Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts
3 tbsp Canola Oil
Sea Salt and Pepper
5 tbsp butter cut into pieces and softened (or margarine)
1 tbsp packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
Trim ends of brussels sprouts and remove outer leaves. Slice through the core to make 4 or 5 slices per sprout. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, add sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Stir fry until beginning to brown about 2 minutes. Add the butter, brown sugar and syrup and stir fry over moderately high heat until the sprouts are crisp-tender and sauce is caramelized, about 5 minutes. Stir in cider vinegar to taste. Serve immediately.
Serving of 6
I made a scaled down version of this recipe with 1/2 pound of brussels sprouts, and it worked very well. The oil and vinegar make a lovely vinagrette sweetened with maple syrup and brown sugar, and surprisingly it marries very well with the earthy flavor of the sprouts. It was slightly sweet for my taste, so I think if I were to make it again, I might cut down on the sugar and maple syrup slightly, and add more vinegar. I added the equivalent of 1 tbsp of vinegar, and I might have liked more tang. Zested lemon might also have been nice. Anyway, overall, excellent recipe and one which once again affirms that yes, brussels sprouts deserve to be a Yum!