Last year around this time, I was regaling you all with my Christmastime sausage habits. Don’t worry, the sausage addiction is very much alive and well – I made kale and sausage stew on Sunday night and I have several varieties in the freezer, ready to be broken out at a moment’s notice.
But this year, I want to tell you about another ingredient that I use on repeat during the colder months (and the warmer months too, tbh). It’s no secret that I’m all about the Brussels, baby. (See here, here, and here.) Any time they’re in season, which is from September to March, I have them on hand. I’ve come to realize that everyone has that one vegetable that they make more than any other, to round out their popcorn dinner or to dump into whatever pasta dish they’re throwing together (maybe like this one?). For my brother and my roommate, that’s broccoli. For some it’s cauliflower, or carrots, or green beans. I love and appreciate all these beautiful, nutrient-dense vegetables, but it’s the bulbous Brussels that holds a special place in my heart.
Roast ‘em, steam ‘em, shred ‘em, fry ‘em, smother ‘em. What can’t you do with these multi-layered little nuggets of green gold?
You can tell how much I love them by my weird pet names for them.
If, however, you’re looking for something to elevate Brussels sprouts, rather than just tossing them in a pan and roasting them on the floor of your oven (my choice of preparation 95% of the time), I’m going to tell you about the farro and Brussels sprout gratin I came across on the ever-dependable Food52. I love everything in this here gratin – farro? Yes plz. Brussels? Obviously. Cheddar?! Yes, duh, have you met me?
The author of the recipe tells us she likes to think of it as “a farro salad in autumn sweater form,” and she’s right. It’s comforting without weighing you down, which means it’s the perfect meal for this time of year. I’m sure we’re all feeling what my mom calls “rich food syndrome” or “food fatigue,” by now. All the cookies and wine and, well, sausage, are catching up with us. We still have about a week or so to go before the festivities die down though, and with this palate cleanser, you can make it, guys! And you still get to eat cheese!
I made some tweaks, as per usual. Another perk, as noted by the author, is how adaptable the recipe is. I added some carrots and a little bit of maple syrup to play off the balsamic vinegar and add a pinch of sweetness, as well as opting to sauté the vegetables instead of shredding them. Do what you want to do! Do what you can do! The holidays are a busy time, in case you weren’t already aware. Don’t make them any harder on yourself.
So, use the rest of that block of cheddar from the strata you make on Christmas morning. Toss in whatever leftover vegetables you have. And ya know what, if you don’t feel like making this a palate cleanser between Christmas and New Year’s, maybe even throw in some sausage. I bet it would taste realllllllll good.
*Note: I halved the recipe for the photos, due to how many Brussels I had on hand. And also because, as we all know, I am just one person.
Brussels Sprout and Farro Gratin
Adapted from Food52
Yields: One casserole dish
1 cup farro, uncooked and rinsed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
A couple of medium carrots, peeled and chopped
A pinch or two of red pepper flakes, to taste
5 ounces aged cheddar, shredded (yielding 1 1/2 cups)
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ cup pecorino, finely grated
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cook farro in a large pot of boiling salted water, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, or according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a glug or two of olive oil (or canola here, if you prefer) and once heated, toss in the Brussels sprouts and carrots, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss every now and then, making sure to leave it alone enough to get a good sear on the vegetables.
- When the farro is to your liking, drain. In a bowl, mix the farro with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- When the vegetables are ready, add to the bowl. They don’t have to be cooked through as they’ll continue to cook in the oven. Mix in the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, another small pinch of salt, and red pepper flakes. Toss together. Now add the cheddar and toss again until evenly mixed.
- Lightly grease a casserole dish (something like a 9×13) and add the farro and Brussels sprout mixture.
- In a small bowl, add the panko, pecorino, several grinds of black pepper, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Toss together until mixed, and spread over the casserole evenly.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, and serve warm.