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Recipe: Brightly flavored Brussels among most traditional Thanksgiving ingredients

  • NEW YORK TIMES
                                Brussels sprouts with pickled shallots and labneh. The unfairly maligned vegetable gets an update with creamy labneh and irresistible pickled shallots.

    NEW YORK TIMES

    Brussels sprouts with pickled shallots and labneh. The unfairly maligned vegetable gets an update with creamy labneh and irresistible pickled shallots.

Brussels sprouts are among the most traditional ingredients on the Thanksgiving table, and, when roasted, this unfairly maligned cabbage cousin shines brilliantly among the various sides.

Preparing them is easy: They don’t really need too much work to yield layers of complex flavor. First, trim the base, and halve or shred the sprouts. You can mitigate their sharpness by submerging them in a bowl of ice-cold water. (The low temperature will inhibit an enzyme reaction, improving their taste and helping them lose some of their funky smell and bitterness.) Just remember to drain and pat them dry once you’re done.

Then, choose the right way to cook them. Boiling doesn’t always do them justice, often leaving them mushy and insipid — even boring. Roasting and searing are most certainly the way to go, and may spur one of the most marvelous transformations of any vegetable. Against high heat, they develop a medley of flavors and textures: crunchy leaves that shatter in a single bite, only to reveal a tender interior.

Brussels sprouts tend to benefit from a flavorful fat. A dab of butter, a dollop of ghee, a splash of extra-virgin olive oil, or chopped bacon or pancetta will all breathe new life into them. In this dish, they’re coated in good extra-virgin olive oil. Then, for a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influence, they’re scattered over a bed of labneh, or thickened yogurt. Its velvety lusciousness provides a creamy-tangy contrast to the crunch of the roasted sprouts.

As all this unfolds in the kitchen, a quick cider vinegar pickle of shallots sits in a jar, waiting to add a much-needed spot of brightness.

The final touch comes in the form of the deeply fruity and woody flavors of date syrup. Be generous here. A little extra would not warrant a reprimand. (Honey and maple syrup are good alternatives, though they won’t give the same degree of fruitiness.)

Prepare the components of this dish ahead of time, and assemble them when ready to serve.

The warm roasted Brussels sprouts and cool garlic labneh are heightened when finished with the pickled shallots and the sweet-sticky splash of date syrup — a mix of sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty, alongside a multitude of playful textures.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH PICKLED SHALLOTS

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
  • Fine sea salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons date syrup, maple syrup or honey, for serving
  • > Pickled shallots:
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and sliced into rings
  • >> Labneh:
  • 1 cup labneh (thickened yogurt, see note below)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Fine sea salt, to taste

Make the pickled shallots: In a small jar or bowl, mix vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add shallots and cover jar. Let sit 30 minutes at room temperature.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Trim Brussels sprouts, discarding stalks and damaged leaves. Halve sprouts lengthwise; toss with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Roast 22 to 30 minutes, until golden, slightly charred in some spots and a little crispy.

Meanwhile, prepare labneh: In a medium bowl, mix labneh with garlic and pepper, then taste and season with salt.

Spread labneh on serving dish or plate; spoon sprouts over. Drain and discard liquid from pickled shallots; place them on top of sprouts. Drizzle with date syrup and 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

>> NOTE: To make labneh, strain full-fat yogurt through cheesecloth set over a bowl. Let water drain out for a few hours.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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