I was looking for slow-cooker recipes for Brussels Sprouts the other week, and was very disappointed in what I found: the attractive photographs accompanying the recipes I found tended to be of the raw ingredients. So when I tried what appeared to be a delicious and vibrantly-green dish, what I ended up with was decidedly khaki and overcooked.
It’s dishonest and unfair to the reader to imply that a recipe produces one thing, and then serves up another.
This recipe came about from a rather sad slow-cooker recipe I saw, and thought I could do a better version. It’s got everything. And by everything, I mean three things: Brussels sprouts, pomegranate and walnuts. Colour! Contrast! Freshness! Earthiness! Quick to prepare! It’s got it all!
Now I know Brussels Sprouts are something of a bêtes noire for many people, but the optimist in me believes that it’s just because they haven’t tried them at their best. Here we have beautifully vibrant, tender sprouts, sprinkled with fresh pomegranate seeds and walnuts and drizzled with pomegranate molasses. What’s not to love?
I love using leftover sprouts in bubble and squeak make for eye catching colour as well as a delicious earthy flavour from when they ‘catch’ in the pan. But there’s no rule to say that you have to wait until they are leftovers before enjoying the charred goodness. So I sautéed half the sprouts, a mixture of large and small, in order to provide a contrast against the steamed ones. The sprouts two ways pairs very well with the pomegranate two ways – the bright colour and juicy pop of the fresh seeds, as well as the tangy richness of the molasses. Finally, a handful of toasted walnuts add a rich and buttery crunchy texture.
I enjoyed this as a meal in itself, but it could more sensibly be served warm as a side dish or cold, as a salad.
Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Pomegranate
The mixture of large and small sprouts was a happy accident: I picked up two bags in the supermarket, and found one bag had small sprouts and the other had large. I peeled both and then haled the large ones and steamed them together in the one steamer pan. You could also swap out the walnuts for cooked chestnuts – another classic sprouts pairing. Quantities are entirely to your own personal tastes/needs – make as much or as little as you need.
fresh pomegranate seeds – ready prepared or from a fresh fruit
a little butter for frying/glazing
salt and pepper to taste
- Toast the walnuts by putting as many as you like into a dry pan and toss/stir them over medium heat for five minutes or so, until the outsides are starting to become toasted. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare the sprouts by removing the loose, outer leaves and trimming the stem. If you have a mixture of sizes, cut large ones in half. I prefer to steam sprouts over boiling water, but boiling in the water is also fine. The most important detail is to not cook them for more than five minutes. That way they retain their bright colour and still have texture. Obviously, everyone’s preferences differ, and if this length of cook produces a sprout that is too al-dente for you, I would stretch to 6 minutes of cooking, but no more.
- When cooked to your liking, keep half warm, and with the rest, toss them in butter over relatively high heat: you don’t want to cook them further, just roast the outsides a little.
- When happy with the toastiness of your sprouts, remove from the heat and add in the rest of the sprouts. Toss them together for a few moments, so everything is coated with butter, then pour into the serving dish.
- Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
- Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds and walnuts.
- Drizzle with pomegranate molasses.