Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Pear and Gorgonzola ~

  
I caught the greatest moment the other morning when I was out walking the dog.

A mother escorted her young son across the street and onto the big yellow-orange school bus where her son made his way into a window seat.  Mom then walked back across the street and onto the sidewalk at which point I expected the bus to start moving forward.  But it didn't.  Instead, I saw mom and son exchange a series of hand and face signals, slowly and deliberately, ending in the 'eye heart you' sign. The bus driver sat patiently while mom and son exchanged their parting ritual, until all seemed right and the driver slowly proceeded on his way.  I stood quietly observing as my body filled with a flush of nostalgia for all the goodbyes - happy and horribly sad - that I had exchanged with my sons at that tender age and so very grateful to the bus driver who apparently understood their significance too.

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I'm not sure how it happened exactly but it seems we are now into the fourth week of November.  In my books, that can only mean one thing: time to start getting our holiday groove on.

So as the holiday momentum gathers, and all the craziness that can represent, I will be showcasing a number of simple and delicious recipes to help with your menu planning and organization - including today's lovelies.

Now before you dismiss Brussels sprouts as a mean and bitter green, (I saw those judging eyes), you have to try this appetizer on for size.  Even before the pear and blue cheese are added, the roasted sprouts in tandem with olive oil and sea salt are a stand-alone star.  (You could literally snack on them all day - they are *that* good).  Add some garnishes and you've got a festive appetizer that is all dressed up for the holidays.  So simple too!


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Pear and Gorgonzola ~
  • 15 or so fresh Brussels sprouts, cut in half
  • 2 red pears, skin-on sliced
  • Small chunk Gorgonzola cheese (about 2 oz or 60 grams), or other cheese of choice, sliced
  • 30 or so dried cranberries
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt & coarse black pepper

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Notes:

If you haven't tried roasted Brussels sprouts before, you are in for an extraordinary experience. I cannot emphasize enough the transformative nature of this process for diminishing the bitterness that can accompany this cruciferous vegetable and drawing out it's delicious flavour.

And there are plenty of reasons for making them more edible. Brussels sprouts are replete with nutrients including vitamin K, manganese, folate, fibre and vitamin C.  In fact, gram for gram, Brussels sprouts contain nearly fifty percent more vitamin C than an orange!

Brussels sprouts - along with other cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower and broccoli - are also known for their exceptional concentration of cancer-fighting compounds.

Make-Ahead & Reheating:

Roasted Brussels sprouts should be eaten the same day they are made.

However, you can roast the sprouts and assemble the appetizers in the morning and store them in the fridge until you are ready to serve them.  When ready to serve, you can either bring the appetizers to room temperature (give them 20 minutes or so) or you can warm the appies in the oven before serving - I suggest 350 F for about 5 minutes - if you heat them for much longer than that, the blue cheese will melt into a pool of water.  We did experiment with re-heating and it worked very well.  They were delish!

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Directions:

Makes about 30 appetizers

Heat oven to 400 F.

The Brussels sprouts will shrink as they roast, so don't be concerned about the size you start out with (some of them can be quite robust!).

Place cut Brussels sprouts in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Toss to combine.

Scatter seasoned Brussels sprouts on a foil lined baking sheet.  If the sprouts are not able to stand upright, trim the very tip of the sprout to create a ledge to steady them.  Add a sprinkle of cracked pepper over the sprouts.



 
Bake sprouts in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until they begin to open up and take on a delicious golden colour.  Be sure to check in on the sprouts somewhere around the half-way mark to give them a shake, stir or flip. 
 
 



Remove sprouts from oven and allow them to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, assemble sliced pear and cheese. 


 
 
Once sprouts are cool enough to handle, add a slice of pear to the cut side top of the sprout, followed by a slice of Gorgonzola (or cheese of choice) and top with a cranberry. Hold the layers together with a toothpick and do a little happy dance!


  

30 comments:

  1. No need for appetizers, but this sounds too good not to try as a side dish with everything mixed together.

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  2. Thanks Liz! I agree, these ingredients would equally make a gorgeous salad/side. Perfect.

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  3. What a touching story, Kelly, particularly in this day and age where you see poor forlorn kids having to walk to school on their own because Mommy or Daddy's job is more important.
    This is such a festive appetizer, and you need not convince me to love Brussels Sprouts. YUM!

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  4. You have no problem selling these to me, now my beloved is another story... but he is a keeper, even if some veggies make him say "what's with the Brussells sprouts?" - as in, are you going to cook them and make me eat them? :-)

    Lovely, heart melting story of the Mom and kid - like you, I am a "collector of perfect moments" that I pay attention to in grocery stores, parks, public transportation... the world is full of them, if we care to look closely enough

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  5. Lovely story Kelly as I hold back the tears in my eyes. Just last night my boys and I were looking at baby pictures, where does the time go? I still cannot believe how quickly the last few weeks have gone by. Time to slow down and enjoy loved ones.

    I'm not a huge fan of brussel spouts but think this is a clever way to add it in my familes diet! :)

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  6. Mandy - The Complete Cook BookNovember 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    I love Brussel sprouts but sadly my hubby doesn't, although he loves Gorgonzola, so maybe hiding the Brussels underneath the cheese and pear will do the trick. ;-)
    :-) Mandy

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  7. I just had some roasted brussels sprouts with chestnuts for the dinner, but now I again have the appetite for these gorgeous appetizers!

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  8. Brussel sprouts are not a fan fav in our household... you've convinced me to give them a try all over again! Fantastic pics, so colorful and mouth watering!

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  9. What a fabulous idea. I love having appys out that are fruit and veggie based to help with the calorie load. Everything is always baked cheese and bread. This is right up my alley and these will surely be making it to our guest. Beautiful photos Kelly!

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  10. Kelly. It's official. This is the ONLY way I want to eat brussel sprouts for the rest of my life. At first glance I looked at the picture, and couldn't tell the brussels were roasted (my fave way of preparing them!) but you have taken roasted brussel sprouts to a whole 'nother level. Divine!!

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  11. Brussels sprouts are definitely an enemy but this is a truce I can make :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  12. Oh, thanks Lisa, a girlfriend of mine just emailed me about the same tearful response to the post... you know, I think these moments really pull at our mommy strings and make us realize just how quickly life is moving and changing... I'm glad it resonated with you too... time to slow down indeed - enjoy your boys Lisa! :0).

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  13. Kelly, I love Brussels sprouts, but I would never imagine they can look beautiful, not to mention as gorgeous and elegant as on your photos! I really like your idea to combine these ingredients. So logical and yet so original! Pears go well with blue cheese, but the rest is your own creative touch which amazes me, as always! I must prepare these for my husband, who loves Brussels sprouts (but he would probably prefer it only with a double blue cheese portion ;-) ). You have just reminded me I wanted to prepare a dessert with pears!

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  14. Thanks so much KoKo! Yes, the finished photo doesn't reveal the browned look so much - which is mostly on the top and bottom - the sides are a vibrant Christmas green! ;0)

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  15. Hey, double cheese works around the holidays I'm told ;0) - thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments Sissi. I'm looking forward to your pear dessert!

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  16. ***all the goodbyes*** They HURT! Don't they?

    On the other hand, I adore those apps. Exquisite is the perfect adjective.

    Xxxx Looooove. How ARE YOUUUU?

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  17. What a delicious little bite! Darn - the coop had brussel sprouts this morning and I bypassed them for the green beans. I knew I should have picked up a few of them. Next week...:) Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Kelly!

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  18. These really turned out so pretty.. once you've roasted them they look like tiny roses I think:) The addition of pear and cheese.. these are so festive for Christmas! Yay, I can't wait for Christmas and trying out new recipes. This is an excellent one!! xx

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  19. That's quite a coincidence - I just read all about roasting brussel sprouts on Kitchen Riffs and he said the same thing as you, that the flavour changes when roasted. I will have to try them because they are far from my favourite vegetable.

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  20. Dancing!!! I love brussel sprouts. I've even incorporated them into Chinese styled dishes ... most locals I know hate them. Hubby learnt to love them too after he had some sauteed in salted duck eggs :) Now he's hooked! I will definitely make these beauties. Just got me a lovely bagful of sprouts ... oh happy day!

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  21. Thanks Eva... it is also becoming rare due to our dependence (addiction?) to hand held devices...you just don't see these exchanges as often anymore, sadly.

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  22. Goodbyes are tough.

    Shakespeare got it right.

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  23. I agree with the roses Barb... they opened up like pretty little blooms ;0) - Christmas is my favourite season too!

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  24. My entire family jumped in and I can't say BS have ever been a hit prior to our roasting discovery... hope you give it a try!

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  25. I've been popping them in everything too! Tossing them into stir-fries and soups and a thai curry the other night... YUM.

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  26. So its not just me, but time is actually going faster for us all...

    You predicted my judging eyes. =P I have to confess I haven't had them in many many years and back then I didn't like them. I was a child maybe that's why. The other day I saw them selling Brussels sprouts here (yes imagine!) but they didn't look fresh for that crazy price. Can you imagine that there are products here which are more expensive then in Europe or maybe even america?

    Oh but I ll check again, I feel a bit inspired with your presentation and recipe.

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  27. Now that is a creative way to prepare them!

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  28. Awwww, how cute! I totally want to try this as an appetizer the next time I have dinner guest :) I dunno how there could be brussels sprouts haters out there!

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  29. What a coincidence - I literally *just* tried roasted sprouts the other night... 2 nights ago I think. Well, they didn't look as wonderful as yours did and I roasted them a bit too long so they ended up a bit burnt, ahem, I mean, er "caramelised", but they were still edible, AND delicious! I've always loved sprouts, but I was especially pleased with how they were when roasted.

    Love this little appetiser - sweet, creamy and roasty crispiness all in one bite. Those pears are gorgeous too... don't think we have them here though - bummer :(

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  30. What a great and healthy appetizer Kelly! I usually don't go for brussel sprouts, unless they are cooked just right - these look like they are cooked just right. And it's sheer genius to combine them with fruit and cheese! Perfect colors too. So festive. And I have to say, you brought me to a teary nostalgia as well. All those sweet (and sometimes heart-wrenching) goodbyes. What a great bus driver!

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Thank you for your feedback - it's wonderful to hear from you!