So, how to go about this… yes, it’s been over 2 years since I posted my last recipe here. A lot happened in the meantime, mostly having a baby who has grown into a cute and rather picky toddler*. That directed a lot of my time and energy away from experimenting in the kitchen and towards, um, a big experiment to keep a tiny human being alive and kicking.
But these days I find myself having a little bit of time and culinary inspiration again! Three things happened: firstly, I participated in a cooking workshop with my colleagues (for our annual New Year event). It’d been AGES since I’d done any kind of new (and fun) cooking. It was mostly about fermenting vegetables but it worked up my appetite for all things umami! Secondly, I got Dorien Knockaert’s new cookbook ‘Thuiskomen‘ for Christmas. And finally, I became ill, had to take some time off and started reading the book and thinking about things I wanted to try in the kitchen. As an added bonus, someone told me they used to follow my blog, which sort of prompted me to do something with it again :-) So with Brussels sprouts in the fridge that needed to be used and a recent quest for more umami flavor, I combined a few recipes to get to this Brussels sprouts and pear panzanella!
The sources of inspiration: Dorien’s panzanella salad (in Thuiskomen), Martha Stewart’s Brussels sprouts and pear combo and one of many recipes that combine balsamic vinegar and maple syrup with sprouts.
*some mom blogs will tell you that children are more likely to eat vegetables that look ‘roasted’, but mine wasn’t in the mood for any vegetables today. The crunchy oven-baked bread was a hit, though. Try again next time.
Ingredients for 3-4 servings:
500 grams (1 pound) of Brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed and cut in half
2 firm pears (they shouldn’t be super soft yet or they’ll turn to pulp)
5 sprigs of thyme
olive oil, pepper and coarse salt
1 small ciabatta bread or 2/3 of a baguette artisanale
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Clean and trim the sprouts (remove the outer leaves) and cut in half. Peel the shallots and quarter them. Slice the pears, remove the core (don’t peel) and cut into 1-2 cm wedges. Put the sprouts, shallots and pears in a bowl with the thyme. Drizzle with olive oil, add pepper and salt and toss carefully (mind the pears).
Spread out on a deep baking dish and put in the middle of the oven for 15-18 minutes, until the first sprouts are starting to turn brown. In the meantime, tear the bread into chunks slightly larger than the sprouts. Toss in the same bowl with some olive oil. Add to the baking dish on the outer sides, shifting the sprouts to the middle (the bread will turn brown faster there). In 6-7 minutes, the sprouts should be caramelized and tender and the bread should be crunchy. While the bread is in the oven, whisk the vinegar and maple syrup in a small bowl.
Remove the baking dish from the oven. Use a large spoon to scoop everything but the bread from the baking dish and into a heatproof serving dish. Drizzle with the vinegar mixture. Toss carefully (the pears will be very tender now). Add the bread. Let this stand for 5 minutes so the bread can soak up a little bit of the yummy vinegar. Serve and enjoy!