An Accidental Festive Holiday Side Dish
If you follow me on social media, you might have seen me joking with my friend Armelle about my color-coded Thanksgiving shopping and planning list. I approach large dinner parties in a very methodical manner, but when I cook midweek meals, I prefer an unplanned “Chopped” approach; give myself 30 minutes, open my basket (fridge), and go. It frees me from an even longer to-do list and forces me to think creatively, using up what I already have in the house before it spoils.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Molasses – A Perfect Match
And that’s how I ended up making this roasted brussels sprouts side dish adapted from Amelia Saltsman’s new cookbook – The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen. I noticed the recipe while browsing through her book for the brisket I plan to cook for the family Hanukkah party. I was drawn to her use of pomegranate molasses with the brussels sprouts – a favorite ingredient from my Tasting Jerusalem group. If you’re not familiar with pomegranate molasses, think of it as the balsamic vinegar of the Middle East.
A Last Minute Hanukkah Meal
So when I arrived home past 5PM on the second night of Hanukkah, latkes from scratch was a no-go. I began my Chopped research – studying the vegetable drawer and the freezer – finding some frozen latkes, snack size applesauces, sour cream, brussels sprouts, half of a purple cauliflower, and a container of pomegranate arils I had just seeded the day before. Remembering Amelia’s recipe, I decided the vegetable dish would be the star attraction and with enough applesauce and sour cream, the frozen latkes could pass muster on a Monday.
I read through Amelia’s recipe, modified it for brevity and to incorporate what I had on hand. She suggests parboiling the brussels first – I just cut mine in half and roasted them. I chopped up the rest of the purple cauliflower and put it on the same roasting pan. I prepared a version of her labneh sauce she calls “shanklish” using greek yogurt and grabbed the rest of the walnuts leftover from my rugelach making. The oven temp for roasting vegetables and heating the frozen latkes was a perfect match and so my impromptu dinner was well on its way.
The yogurt sauce is a nice addition to the dish but you can omit it if you want to keep it dairy-free. Also, if you don’t have za’atar (an earthy spectacular Middle Eastern spice blend – read about it here), then just use the thyme, red and black pepper and salt. We ate the leftovers without the yogurt sauce the following night and it was still satisfying and flavorful.
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- 1 pound brussels sprouts, cut in half
- ½ head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to your liking, ½ teaspoon or so each
- 1 - 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- ½ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped or left whole
- 1 - 2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate arils
- ½ cup labneh, Greek yogurt or regular plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon za'atar
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 small fresh sprig thyme
- ¼ teaspoon aleppo pepper or cayenne
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Place brussels sprouts and cauliflower on a parchment-lined roasting pan (I use a large cookie sheet). Pour olive oil on the vegetables and sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Give it all a toss right on the sheet to coat the veggies with the oil.
- Roast for 15 minutes.
- While the veggies are roasting, mix up your yogurt sauce - place all ingredients in a small bowl and combine. Any subset of the ingredients that you have on hand will be super tasty so don't worry about having them all - even just plain yogurt would be a nice accompaniment.
- After 15 minutes of roasting, mix the veggies around, cook for 5 more minutes.
- Check for doneness (can a fork pierce through easily?). If nearly done, pour on about 1 tablespoon of the pomegranate molasses and toss around with some tongs and put the sheet back in the oven for 5 more minutes.
- Remove from the oven, squeeze on a bit of lemon juice (optional but in our house, everything is better with a squeeze of lemon).
- Place the veggies on a serving dish of choice, sprinkle on walnuts, the rest of the pomegranate molasses, and the fresh pomegranate arils and serve with a dollop of the yogurt sauce, if desired.