As a child, I acted like I didn’t like brussels sprouts. Isn’t that what all kids are supposed to do – hold your nose and say “Eeeeeewwww!”
Truth is, I actually liked them. My mom would doctor them up with salt, pepper and butter and I had no problem polishing them off, though I might have left one or two on my plate in order to maintain the respect of my siblings.
When I planned this recipe, I thought I would try something fancy and make a port wine reduction sauce to drizzle over the top. Didn’t go so well! I ended up with a burnt-tasting, thicker-than-molasses black goo on the bottom of my sauce pan. (If you know how to make a good reduction sauce without setting off the smoke alarm, by all means feel free do so.) Then I remembered that brussels sprouts don’t require anything fancy, so I quickly mixed up a little maple syrup with balsamic and – voila, it’s time to eat!
Another good thing about this dish is that you really don’t need a recipe. You can make just enough for yourself or a big batch for a large crowd. And you can put as much or as little maple syrup (or honey or agave nectar) and balsamic on it as you want. There are no rules here, just do whatever suits your fancy.
For those following Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat To Live program, this complies with the weight loss (if you substitute 1 – 2 tbsp. of currants or raisins for the maple syrup) and life plans. Note that I used a very small amount of oil which Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t recommend, so use your discretion whether you think this is appropriate for you.
brussels sprouts (as many as you like) – cut in half
sweet potato (as much as you want) – cut in similar size to the brussels sprouts
pine nuts (optional – about 1 tbsp. per serving) – toasted
maple syrup (honey or agave nectar)
extra virgin olive oil (about ½ tsp. per serving)
salt & pepper to taste
parsley – chopped (for garnish)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Remove the brussels sprouts from the stalk (if purchased that way) with a small paring knife. Rinse and remove any loose leaves (which can trap dirt), cut in half, place in a mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add a sprinkle of salt & pepper and mix well with hands to make sure oil, salt and pepper is evenly coated on vegetables. Spread on a baking sheet, cut side down.
3. Wash and peel sweet potatoes and cut into pieces similar in size to the brussels sprouts. Place in a mixing bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, mix well, and spread evenly on a baking sheet. If making a small batch, you can put both the sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts on the same sheet, but keep them separate so you can easily remove those which roast more quickly than the others. If preparing a large batch, use separate baking sheets for each.
4. Bake for 20 – 35 minutes (depending on the number and size of the sprouts/potato chunks) or until fork tender.
5. For each serving, toast 1 tablespoon of pine nuts in a non-stick pan starting on medium heat. Constantly stir the nuts so they don’t burn. As soon as they start to sweat and turn light brown, reduce the heat to low, continuing to stir. As soon as a strong pine scent is released, remove from heat and immediately transfer to a cool plate so they stop toasting. Warning – once these start toasting, they can burn quickly so watch them closely.
6. Prepare as much maple-balsamic glaze as desired. For one serving, I use a 2 to 1 ratio (2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar to 1 teaspoon maple syrup) but you may like a sweeter 1 to 1 ratio. I recommend using a good quality maple syrup (many brands are just flavored sugar syrup), or you can use honey or agave nectar.
7. Mix the vegetables, toasted pine nuts and glaze in a mixing bowl.
8. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve hot.