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.
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
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!
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.