Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts: The antidote to pumpkin lattes

It sat on the kitchen counter, a glossy congealed mass of pumpkin standing tall, proud and gelatinous in its pale, buttery crust. I groaned at the sight, disdain circling the circumference of my stomach as I struggled to keep my distaste from becoming an audible disturbance to my officemates in the other room.

"I hate pumpkin pie," I muttered, quickly placing my quinoa salad in the fridge, far away from the object of my disaffection.

"What?!" My coworker sputtered in disbelief, as though I'd just confessed something truly horrifying, like I was giving up wine, or wanted to punch a baby.

It wasn't the first time my lack of enthusiasm for the ceremonial gourd had registered such an appalled response. It's not that I hate pumpkin in its entirety -- I'm quite fond of the seeds, can get down with it in cookie form, and have even been known to order it on my pizza when the mood so strikes.

What drives me to the edge -- to punching a baby territory -- is the pumpkin obsession that descends on the population this time of year. The signs shrieking about the return of the pumpkin latte. In September. The endless parade of recipes for pumpkin chili, pumpkin macaroni cheese, pumpkin gnocchi with pumpkin seed pesto in a sea of pumpkin-infused butter.

And the staunch devotion to the flavorless mush of canned pumpkin smashed together with the equally egregious can of evaporated milk on the most food-focused day of the year.

Pumpkin pie, in most iterations, is not dessert.

It's baby food.

For me, the thing that makes me shriek with elfin glee at the first gasp of fall is not a neon coffee beverage or congealed slice of pie, but rather a cruciferous vegetable.

Brussels sprouts.

This past weekend three pounds were purchased and subsequently roasted into submission. As a side to chicken. As the key mix-in to one of my favorite quinoa salads. As the crux of my dinner tonight -- the other ingredients mere excuses to continue in this harried pursuit to consume as many Brussels sprouts as possible in a four-day period.

They're my pumpkin pie.
My signifier that summer is officially over -- that fall, giant ugly sweaters, thick socks, and clanging heaters are marginally acceptable in a city where 65 degrees is considered chilly.

And, gratefully, the heart of a dish that is not at all fit for a baby.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Carrots and Chickpeas
Serves 4-6

Notes: This dish was initially an afterthought. The result of an immediate craving that was realized with a roasting pan, a surplus of chickpeas, and the inevitable additions of garlic and lemon (the yins to all the yangs that come out of my kitchen). It's simple, rustic, and for the so-inclined, a hearty addition to round out yet another bowl of quinoa. Serve it independently as a side or piled high and proud on a plate for dinner. I opted for the latter. 

2 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into thin pieces
1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts, outer shells removed and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Sea salt, ground pepper
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss Brussels sprouts and carrots with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet, and roast, stirring once or twice, for 20-25 minutes or until tender and lightly caramelized and browned.

While vegetables are roasting, heat large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining olive oil, then the chickpeas and garlic. Reduce heat slightly so the garlic doesn't burn, and cook, stirring constantly, until the chickpeas are lightly browned and the garlic is fragrant, approximately 5 minutes.

Combine chicken broth and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Let simmer for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.

Toss vegetables with chickpeas, garlic, and lemon zest, then drizzle with the lemon-scented broth. Serve immediately.


Banana Wonder said...

Amen TALF, pumpkin does get old - esp the pp. Pile a bunch of BS on my plates any day, the more roasted the better, and I am a happy girl.

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Gastronomer said...

You crack me up, D! There's room for sprouts and pumpkin in this girl's belly.

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

i love that you find balance in life! and i love both brussel sprouts and pumpkin lattes a great way to negate each other ;)

Esi said...

SRSLY about the pumpkin pie and also about pumpkin being in our face everywhere right now. Hand me some brussels sprouts, please.