With Thanksgiving less than a week away, if you’re anything like me, I bet you’ve been scouring the internet for new side dish ideas.
Of course there are the ever-present sides on our holiday table, like butternut squash puree, some variant of stuffing (cornbread-based stuffing seems to be everyone’s favorite), and some form of bean casserole (usually green bean casserole, but for some reason that hasn’t been such a hit for the past couple of years). And Brussels sprouts, which is my dad’s contribution to our meal; my mom hates them and refuses to go near them, but since they’re a favorite of his, my dad takes on the challenge to come up with a new recipe for them every year. Sometimes he’ll make them braised, but if I’m really lucky, the sprouts get roasted.
Roasting brings out all the best qualities of Brussels sprouts…their natural sweetness and slight nuttiness, both of which are accentuated by a sweet and savory dark cherry sauce and nutty toasted hazelnuts in this dish.
In this quick-cooking sauce, frozen cherries are paired with just a couple savory flavors – balsamic vinegar and soy sauce – and mahlab, a spice that tastes like a cross between cherries and almonds, and goes beautifully with anything containing cherries. Actually, it goes so well, I never make anything cherry without adding a bit of mahlab. Like quick and easy Cherry Sauce made from dried cherries, and three-minute Cherry-Chocolate Sorbet. (You can read more about mahlab in this post if you want, and just a heads-up if you’re wondering where you can find it, it’s available at Middle Eastern grocery stores, specialty spice shops, and many gourmet food stores…and I’ve even seen it at Penzeys Spices.)
This side dish comes together easily and pretty quickly, as far as holiday side dish recipes go. If Brussels sprouts always grace your holiday table and you’re looking for a delicious new spin on them, this is the perfect recipe for you. It’s completely no-fuss, which makes it a painless addition to your holiday menu. And you never know, you might just convert the sprouts-haters in your family.