It seems as though we’re all programmed to dislike brussels sprouts as kids. It was the vegetable we’d secretly feed to the dog under the dinner table or chuck across the room when our parents looked away. Even as adults, people seem to have strong opinions about brussels; they either love ‘em or hate ‘em. I personally can’t get enough of these little guys :).
With a little doctoring up, they make for a fantastic side dish to serve along side festive holiday entrees.
They’re also extremely nutritious – loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Fiber and the list goes on and on.
The crunchy brussels sprouts in this dish are bursting with sweet and savory flavors. The rich taste of sautéed pancetta and shallots combined with maple and orange sweetened cranberries will stimulate your taste buds with every bite. Plus, could we get any more festive with this red and green color combo?
Pancetta is often referred to as the Italian version of bacon. It is made of pork belly meat that is cured and spiced with black pepper, nutmeg and fennel. Pancetta and bacon can be used interchangeably in cooking, however unlike bacon, pancetta is not smoked. If you prefer that smoky flavor in dishes, you can substitute the pancetta for bacon.
As I feel the need to throw in a mild disclaimer, pancetta is relatively high in sodium and fat, much like bacon. However a little goes a long way in terms of flavor. I only used 1.5 ounces of pancetta in the entire dish and it was just enough to amp up the flavor.
I often use coconut oil to roast vegetables like brussels because it does not get denatured at high temperatures, much like vegetable oil. It also has some enticing health benefits. There seems to be a general misconception that coconut oil is not considered a heart-healthy cooking oil because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However, coconut oil contains about 50% Lauric acid, a fat which has been shown to increase the good HDL cholesterol in our blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels.
So, if you’re currently a little turned off by the idea of brussels, I challenge you to give this dish a shot. I have a feeling you’ll be taking a walk on over to the dark side ;).
Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Pancetta
Makes 7 cups prepared; Serving size: 1 cup
- 2 lbs brussels sprouts, rinsed
- 1 cup fresh, uncooked cranberries
- Juice and zest of 1/2 orange
- 3 slices thin pancetta (~1.5 ounces), sliced into small pieces
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted in the microwave for ~10 seconds
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- Slivered almonds for optional topping
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400° F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the brussels sprouts with the melted coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the sprouts are tender and browned in spots.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice and zest. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the cranberries break down and thicken, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add chopped shallot and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in sliced pancetta pieces and sauté an additional 5 minutes, until the pancetta browns and the shallots become translucent. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and blot to remove excess oil.
- Once brussels have roasted, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well combined. Top with slivered almonds or nut of choice. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Nutrition facts per serving (1 cup)
Calories: 115; Total Fat: 5 gm; Saturated Fat: 3 gm; Cholesterol: 4 mg; Sodium: 125 mg; Carbohydrates: 14 gm; Fiber: 4.5 gm; Sugar: 5 gm; Protein: 4 gm