Brussels Sprouts Sauté with Cranberries and Buttered Pecans

“Kale, kale, kale!” I imagine Brussels sprouts saying in an exasperated tone like Jan on “The Brady Bunch” with her “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” envy of her more popular sister. From DIY kale chips to the first recognition of a National Kale Day in October of last year, we’re in the middle of a bonafide kale craze.

I think it’s time for Brussels sprouts to give their fellow member of the cabbage clan a nudge out of the limelight. After all, these sprouts have their own health benefits with heavy doses of vitamins C and K as well as a phytochemical believed to have anticancer properties. Brussels sprouts are versatile too; they can be boiled, roasted, stir fried or sautéed and topped with cheeses, nuts, bacon, lemon, vinegar or berries. This season, invite another member of kale’s family into your home for the holidays. You’ll be deliciously surprised.

When choosing Brussels sprouts, look for small, firm, compact heads that are bright green in color. Loose or yellowed leaves are a sign that they’re past their prime. Store unwashed and untrimmed sprouts in your refrigerator for up to one week.

Brussels Sprout Sauté with Cranberries and Buttered Pecans

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spread chopped pecans in a single layer on a baking pan and bake until fragrant and a few shades darker, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt to nuts and toss until butter is melted and nuts are coated. This step can be done one day in advance; store sautéed nuts at room temperature sealed in plastic bag or container with lid.

3. Put dried cranberries in large ramekin and add hot water. Let sit for 20-30 minutes to reconstitute cranberries. Drain and set aside.

4. Fit a large pot with a steamer insert and fill with water to bottom of insert. Cover, and bring to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts and steam, tossing halfway through, until bright green and just tender, about 4 minutes.

5. While sprouts steam, melt remaining 2-1/2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat then add garlic and cranberries and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

6. Increase heat to medium-high, add steamed sprouts and sauté, stirring occasionally, until browned in patches, about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste. Remove from heat, stir in pecans, and serve.

Tips for trimming Brussels sprouts: First, cut off the hard, woody end of each sprout. Next, peel off outer layer of leaves. If large sprouts, cut in half or quarter then wash and drain.

Four ways to cook Brussels sprouts:

  • Stir fry quartered sprouts in a little oil with chopped onions and sliced ginger.
  • Boil sprouts for about 7 minutes in pot then pan fry with diced pancetta and chopped garlic.
  • Roast halved sprouts coated with olive oil, salt and pepper in 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes, tossing once during cooking.
  • Sauté halved sprouts, cut side down in an oiled pan for about 5 minutes a side; add 1/3 cup water and steam without lid until water dissipates. Toss with lemon juice.