My friend Ben lives in LA; if the time difference wasn’t trouble enough, our schedules are so vastly different that we have monthly phone dates scheduled in order to keep in touch. We talk about not only what’s going on in our lives, but also what we’ve been reading, what we’ve been watching and what and where we’ve been eating. It doesn’t matter that it will most likely be years before I’ll be able to go to Akasha or Pizzeria Mozza, and we both know that Ben won’t be dropping into Hungry Mother or Picco any time soon — we both simply enjoy discussing food. In fact, I was on the phone with Ben when I walked into my kitchen to see this week’s box from The Food Project sitting on the counter… including two long green branches.
“Oh my god,” I said, interrupting Ben mid-sentence. “There are these things next to the stove. They’re supposed to be Brussels sprouts but —”
“—They’re boughs,” Ben said.
Two feet long and covered with sprout pompoms, they were most definitely boughs. And I had no idea what to do with them, so I turned to the rest of the box for ideas:
- Brussels sprouts
- Butternut squash
I’ve always had a thing for cooked carrots, since something happens when they meet heat — their flavor intensifies in such a way that I literally have to hold myself back from eating them all. Carrots and sprouts make a lovely combination, since the richly sweet carrots compliment the bitter green sprouts perfectly. The shallots, of course, add a mild oniony flavor, the butter a welcome luxury and the cider a pleasant tang. It’s a dish whose simplicity is its high point.
Carrots and Brussels Sprouts, from Gourmet
Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons chopped shallot (from 1 medium)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound carrots, cut diagonally into ½-inch-thick pieces
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- Cook shallot in 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add carrots, Brussels sprouts, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown, three to four minutes.
- Add water and cover skillet, then cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are tender, five to eight minutes. Stir in vinegar, remaining tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste.