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brussels sprouts, marcona almonds, spinach

The book:  The Sprouted Kitchen, by Sara Forte (10 Speed, $25 – here’s my complete review)

The recipe:  Brussel leaf and baby spinach sauté with Marcona almonds

Why I tried itI’ve known for a while that a second, totally different, more lovable vegetable is hidden in every Brussels sprout if you can just bear the tedium of picking it off, leaf by leaf.  It hardly ever seems worth it.  But the picture was so enticing, and I found myself with the time one day, so I decided to go for it.

Why I loved it:  The skunkiness of cabbage is almost impossible to find in Brussels sprouts when they’re sautéd as separate leaves – with such quick work, there’s no chance for that smelly culprit, hydrogen sulfide, to break out of its cell.  Better still, the leaves are both tender and substantial enough to hold their shape a bit, a counterpoint to the wilty spinach.  And best of all, there are Marcona almonds.  Yes, it’s a splurge, but not only are they fantabulous in the dish – you can also secretly snack on them as a reward for detaching Brussels leaves for half an hour. The maple and vinegar are just right, fleeting hints of tart and sweet for an elegant side.

Incidentally, there’s no need to discard the tiny core of the Brussels sprouts.  I threw it in the pan along with everything else.  My result might not have been as refined-looking as the photo, but it sure tasted amazing.

Estimated preparation time: 30 minutes. But 5 minutes if you can get somebody else to separate the Brussels sprouts leaves and wash the spinach.
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Brussel leaf and baby spinach sauté with Marcona almonds
Serves 4

marcona almonds1 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

1.  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 [ed.: Or don’t!]  and put the leaves in a big bowl.  Repeat with the remaining brussels sprouts.

2.  Over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add all of the brussels leaves and saute 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.

3.  Sprinkle with the salt and Marcona almonds and serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from The Sprouted Kitchen © 2012 by Sara Forte, 10 Speed Press.

whole foods, natural foods, sara forte, hugh forteA few years back I made a comment on NPR that got me in hot water (maybe not my first time!) – something about not liking most blog cookbooks.  I thought they were derivative and un-thoughtful, and in some cases this was true.

Well, color me reformed!  Every year since I’ve found a couple of blog books to love.   Everything that’s great about a food blog – the passion, the great photography, the forthright attitude of the cook – can shine in a blog book, especially when the author’s taken the trouble to come up with a whole slew of new recipes not found on the blog.

The Sprouted Kitchen recipes (though not so much the feel of the book) strongly remind me of Heidi Swanson’s approach:  mostly vegetarian, but not strict.  Emphasis on nuts and textures.  Reliance on some favorite ingredient combinations (not the same as Swanson’s faves).  Refreshing willingness to do things differently.  A find!

Click here to read today’s review of The Sprouted Kitchen in the Boston Globe.

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