Brussels sprouts get a tasty assist from walnuts, grapes and balsamic glaze

An important technique in this recipe is to roast the sprouts, which will soften their assertive flavor and accentuate their natural sweetness.

SHARE Brussels sprouts get a tasty assist from walnuts, grapes and balsamic glaze
Roasting grapes together with Brussels sprouts will add more sweetness as their winey juices release. 

Roasting grapes together with Brussels sprouts will add more sweetness as their winey juices release.

Lynda Balslev/TasteFood

If one vegetable symbolizes autumn, it’s the Brussels sprout. If one vegetable generates controversy, it’s the Brussels sprout.

The prolific and humble crucifer peaks in the fall, and when it appears on the menu, it can divide your dinner table into two camps: lovers and haters.

Enough with the polarization. In fostering a spirit of unity, this recipe will help. It employs a few simple techniques that may — just may — win over any declared sprout-hater.

An important technique is to roast the sprouts. This method will soften their assertive flavor and accentuate their natural sweetness. Roasting grapes together with the sprouts will add more sweetness as their winey juices release. A puckery-sweet balsamic syrup finishes the vegetables, providing a shiny shellack and encouraging caramelization.

While this may be sufficient to change minds, why stop there?

Once the sprouts and grapes have roasted, toss them with toasted walnuts and a cooked grain, such as farro or wheatberries. You will then have a hefty, sweet-tart and nutty bowl, hearty enough to satisfy meat eaters and vegetarians alike, that brims with the season’s finest ingredients and happens to include Brussels sprouts.

Note: When making the balsamic glaze, use an inexpensive balsamic vinegar. Save your pricey, fancy vinegar for special use.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts With Walnuts and Grapes

Yield: Serves 4 sprouts lovers (or 6 to 8 haters)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed but intact
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved (or quartered, if large)
  • 12 ounces seedless red grapes (optional)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup cooked farro or wheatberries (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine the balsamic vinegar and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened and reduced by half, 12 to 15 minutes. Discard the garlic clove and add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3. Toss the Brussels sprouts, grapes, thyme, rosemary and oil in a large bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice.

4. Remove from the oven, drizzle half of the balsamic glaze over the vegetables and stir to coat.

5. Return to the oven and roast until the sprouts are tender and caramelized in spots, and the grapes have begun to shrivel, about 10 minutes more.

6. Remove from the oven and discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the farro (if using) and walnuts and stir to combine. Drizzle the remaining glaze on top, stir and taste for seasoning. Serve warm.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. More recipes can be found at chicago.suntimes.com/taste.

The Latest
Cubs starter Jameson Taillon was charged with one run through 7 ⅓ innings
The boy was inside a car about 5:30 p.m. in the 8300 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue when someone approached him and fired shots, police said.
Lisa Kudrow leads the bumbling marauders in Apple’s funny follow-up to 1981 film.
Two men, a 46-year-old man from Washington state and a 55-year-old man from Franklin Park, were hospitalized in serious condition following a fire about 3 p.m. Tuesday. Their boat burned.