Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is “Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussels Sprouts en papillote”.
This recipe is very easy to prepare and consists of merely eight ingredients. The vegetables that are baked in parchment are Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash and together with one Granny Smith Apple they make for a delicious and healthy side dish. Although this vegetable dish clearly does have a late autumn/early winter appeal, it is still delicious at this time of year. Other than the two vegetables and the one fruit, all you need is a good-quality olive oil (I used Greek organic olive oil), some freshly ground black pepper, a bit of sea salt, some natural brown sugar and a few fresh Winter Sage leaves (still growing in my garden).
Brussels Sprouts have quite a dreadful reputation. Like miniature versions of the common cabbage, they grow on large stalks and have a sweet, nutty flavor, which some people can find too pungent. But, treated with a touch of love and care, these little buds can become one of your favorite winter vegetables. When shopping for this vegetable, you should look for the ones with tight compact heads and no sign of wilting and the stalks should look moist and freshly cut. Brussels sprouts can be enjoyed shredded, either eaten raw in a salad or fried with bacon and butter. Or they can be blanched in boiling water or baked in the oven as part of a gratin. And although they are in season from September until April around here, I had a hard time finding really fresh ones.
But what proved to be almost impossible to find at the beginning of February was Butternut Squash. We do not eat that much squash or pumpkins around here and they usually disappear from the stores before Christmas. I had bought some sweet potatoes from Israel as a back-up but finally found what must have been the last butternut squash anywhere in the City of Bonn. Since I used only about a third for this recipe, I will prepare a Focaccia with roasted Butternut Squash on the weekend.
Granny Smiths, on the other hand, are readily available year round and the cubed apple made an interesting addition to the Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash. Not too sweet and even after baking "en papillote" for a good thirty minutes, the apple cubes still kept their shape.
Since I took so many liberties with last weeks´ recipe, I followed this one to “a T” except for the fact that I baked everything in one package, not four packages and used unbleached parchment paper as opposed to aluminum foil.
I never use aluminum foil in my cooking or baking and the presentation in a “parchment papillote” is so much prettier than one in foil.
At one of the many fruit & vegetable shops that I went to before I could get started with this recipe, I found some very fresh looking Jerusalem Artichokes and decided to make some veggie chips that I served alongside the Squash and Sprouts. Sprinkled with French sea salt, we find them to be quite tasty. They curl up quite a bit while frying and have to be watched carefully because they are fully cooked in about a minute.
We liked today´s recipe and it was a cinch to prepare. The sweetness from the brown sugar harmonized nicely with the tart apple and the wintry vegetables. Definitely a side-dish to keep in mind for next fall/winter when squash is abundantly available.
To see how the other Doristas prepared the “Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussels Sprouts en papillote”, please click here.