I never considered de-constructing a Brussels sprout. Apparently there is a bitter center to these little cabbages that can be avoided by removing the leaves and discarding the core. Who Knew?! Who knew how hard it was going to be to free those little leaves from their tight hold! I found the most successful approach was to cut away the stem bit by bit to release the leaves from the core. I got pretty good there toward the end (last 4 sprouts!). All of that aside, this was a very pretty leafy dish. The contrast between the crisp leaves of the Brussels sprouts and the soft, wilted spinach leaves was beautiful. They combined with the lovely flavors of maple syrup and balsamic champagne vinegar and the sliced almonds to create a perfect vegetarian side dish!
BRUSSEL LEAF AND BABY SPINACH SAUTE (4 Servings)
- 1 pound brussels sprouts
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 2 generous pinches of sea salt
- 1/2 cup Marcona almonds
- Working with one brussels sprout at a time, peel each individual leaf, starting from the outside and working toward the middle. Continue to peel until you get to the tough core where it is just too tight to pull any more leaves. Discard the core and put the leaves in a big bowl. Repeat with the remaining brussels sprouts.
- Over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add all of the brussels leaves and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and maple syrup and toss to coat. Add the spinach to the pan and toss until it is just barely wilted. It is better just slightly underdone in this case, as it will continue to cook in its own heat.
- Sprinkle with the salt and Marcona almonds and serve immediately.