Monday, September 3, 2012

Pucker Up for Some Vinegar

Are you looking for a way to liven up your food without adding any fat?

Play around with vinegar!

Whenever you are cooking, you are trying to present a variety of well balanced flavors.  These days, you can find a myriad of flavored vinegars at your local grocery store.  And, the best part is you don't have to spend a fortune to find some tasty ones, too. Unless you want really good balsamic...then you're gonna shell out the big bucks.  The acidity in vinegars and citrus can add delightful brightness and zing to any dish...even cocktails!  I found a lychee vinegar that is fabulous with cucumber gin and soda.

Use vinegars to deglaze roasted vegetables, add a bit into the cooking liquid when preparing grains, zing up sauces, and, of course, make a host of different vinaigrettes.

To prove vinegars brightening power, I've decided to tackle that notoriously feared (and greatly under appreciated) vegetable:  the Brussels sprout.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Pearl Onions and Grapes

Roasted grapes?!  "How odd," you might think.  Roasting intensifies their sweet flavor and its a fabulous foil to the tart vinegar.  I bust this bright and colorful dish out for almost every holiday. If you can't find red onions, white works just fine.

2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 lb red pearl onions
2 cups red seedless grapes
2 cloves garlic, whole
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 Tbl tarragon vinegar
thyme bundle
2 Tbl chopped tarragon
2 Tbl olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

To prepare the onions, bring a medium bot of water to a boil and blanch the onions for about 2 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.  Once they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins using a sharp paring knife. 

Trim off a little bit of the nubs of the sprouts and slice in half.  This will keep them intact.  In a large oven proof skillet or rimmed baking sheet, combine onions, sprouts, and garlic.  It's important that the veggies have room otherwise they will steam instead of roast...we don't want that.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and add thyme and bay leaves.

Pop those babies in the oven.  After 15 minutes, remove from oven and give them a good stir.  Drizzle with 1 Tbl of the vinegar.  Return to oven for another 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and add grapes, remaining 1/2 Tbl vinegar, and 1 Tbl chopped tarragon.  Give it a little stir and return to oven.  Roast until grapes begin to split, about seven more minutes.

Remove bay, thyme, and garlic.  Sprinkle with reserved tarragon.

This is great as a side or over farro or quinoa for a main dish!

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