It’s that time of year again. Pumpkins are overflowing in the produce aisles, and squash varieties are everywhere you turn. Bon Appetit’s November issue recently made me giddy with all the delicious Thanksgiving inspired recipes it offered. So I decided to make a plan. I may not be in charge of my family’s Thanksgiving menu this year, but you can bet I won’t be missing out on all the season’s offerings.
With many recipes starred and several other food magazines yet to be received, I’ve decided to work all kinds of holiday dishes into my weekly menus. This means that sometimes we’ll be having side dishes for dinner, which I’m fine with. Since there are only two of us, unless we have company (giving me an excuse to go all out) I’d rather highlight one dish than risk having way too much leftover food.
Tonight was one of those side dish events. I served this gratin with an arugula salad and we devoured everything until it was gone. And let me tell you, it smelled good even before it started baking. The warmed sage, toasted breadcrumbs and steamy vegetables covered in melting cheese were mouth watering. And once a bite finally reached my mouth, it was even better.
And since you're here, let me say a few things about Brussels Sprouts, the sometimes overlooked, misunderstood vegetable. I thought through my food memories and could not remember an instance when I actually ate one. My childhood was not tainted with images of being force-fed an overcooked variety, but their bad rap is due to just that. Overcooking actually releases sulfur compounds in the vegetable that give it an unpleasant smell. When cooked properly, they possess a delicate nutty flavor, complimented well in this dish by Parmesan cheese and their cousin in the vegetable world, cauliflower. If you have an aversion to Brussels sprouts, try this recipe and you just might be over your fear.
Brussels Sprout and Cauliflower Gratin
Recipe courtesy Bon Appetit
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed, quartered lengthwise through core
1 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, trimmed, cut into small florets
2 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Fill large bowl with ice and cold water. Cook brussels sprouts in large pot of generously salted boiling water 2 minutes. Add cauliflower to same pot; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes longer. Drain. Transfer vegetables to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well.
Combine cream, shallots, and sage in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs; stir until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool. Stir in pine nuts and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish; arrange half of vegetables in dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then 1 1/2 cups Parmesan. Arrange remaining vegetables evenly over, then sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups Parmesan. Pour cream mixture evenly over. DO AHEAD Breadcrumb topping and gratin can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover gratin with foil. Bake covered 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle breadcrumb topping over and bake uncovered 15 minutes longer.