Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Sauteed Pears, Fennel, and Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla Bean and Pinot Grigio
I really debated posting this one. I know many of you will think I'm crazy for putting vanilla bean into vegetables, but let me remind you that vanilla is a very mild, very food-friendly flavor, good in all sorts of dishes, and not just sweets.
I searched the web, wanting to give a bit of history on this, and indeed found many people talking about using vanilla in savory dishes. Here's just one example from another blog:
I served this with prosciutto wrapped chicken, and almost ate all of it before I even touched the chicken. Kris on the other hand...not so much. I thought I could sneak the fennel by him by burying it in with the pears and brussels sprouts, but he detected it on the first bite, curling his nose up at it and not touching it again.
I didn't bother telling him that I'd put vanilla bean in it - I just ate his serving. Two days later, I ate the leftovers as a cold veggie salad, and it was even better. I don't know how to describe it - it's on the verge of being sweet (the vanilla and pear combo is just the slightest bit remniscent of a pear crumble), but before it becomes too sweet, you get a bite of the nutty brussels sprout and a mellow licorice kick from the fennel. Of course, if you absolutely hate fennel, you could replace it with sweet onion, sauteeing the same way.
I guess I'll have to make this one when Kris is out of town. I'm already craving it again!
Sauteed Pears, Fennel, and Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla Bean
1 (9 oz) package of fresh Brussels Sprouts, docked (tough ends removed), loose leaves removed, and cut in half, length-wise
1 Pear (I used a Bosc), cut into one inch cubes
1 Fennel bulb (the 'heart' of the fennel only), stalks and tough outer layers removed, sliced into rings, then halved
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 a vanilla bean (see link below if you've never done this)
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
1 teaspoon butter, optional
See how to scrape a vanilla bean here:
Heat up olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add your pear and vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and saute, stirring occasionally 12-15 minutes until they've begun to soften (you can put your top on your pan to quicken this a little if you're in a hurry.) Add your wine and vanilla bean, stirring in thoroughly. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat and simmer until the majority of the wine has evaporated. Stir in additional butter at end if desired.