Nov 212010
Some people get excited to deck their halls for Christmas.  Some people count down the days until their birthday and make it last a full week plus both surrounding weekends.  But me, I like Thanksgiving.  It’s by far my favorite holiday.  It brings all the things I love together: good company and good food. The holidays are clearly a time to indulge, but what if it was possible to make a few traditional sides a little less gluttonous (without anyone noticing)?  These two recipes are incredibly nutritious, vegan (unintentionally), and still taste amazing.  You won’t miss the butter in these brussel sprouts or the added sugar in these sweet potatoes one bit.

Just look at some of these ingredients below:  Pomegranate, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, apples, fresh herbs, brussel sprouts and pecans.  How could a meal with all this amazing produce be bad for you??

I loved this sweet potato recipe because instead of adding brown sugar, or marshmallows, or butter, this recipe uses olive oil plus a little spicy kick to contrast against the naturally sweet yams.  Fresh thyme, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and olive oil are all these needed to be transformed into a hearty and healthy side.  Cooking them at a high temperature makes the outside a little crispy and brown and the inside smooth and creamy.  I’m kind of obsessed with these potatoes and they fall into my favorite food group of all: the sweet and savory food group.   

Brussel sprouts can have a bad rep.  When they’re plain, they can be very cabbagy and unappetizing.  Something I hid in my napkin when I was a kid (sorry mom).  Then on the other hand, brussel sprouts can be amazingly tasty when cooking in butter with bacon/pancetta, but then you’ve taken an amazingly healthy vegetable and tainted it with bad fats.  So this recipe is the happy medium.  Simply roasted with olive oil, a tiny bit of maple syrup, salt and pepper so they get caramelized.  Then mix them with toasted pecans and pomegranate seeds to add texture, nuttiness, and a sweet/tart bite.  

Nutritional Highlights: Sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, AND pomegranate are all considered “super foods”.  The CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) ranked sweet potatoes number one in nutrition of all vegetables! They have lots of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Brussel sprouts are often high on these lists as they fall in the “cruciferous vegetable category” with kale and broccoli which all are big time cancer fighters.  Don’t over cook them or they lose some of their nutritional value and start to smell a little funky.  And those little beautiful pomegranate gems are full of antioxidants as well.

Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes
adapted from Epicurious 2005

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds (I did 1/2 to 1 in thick for a higher crustiness to potato ratio)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 thyme sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

And get ready for how easy it is:

Preheat oven to 450°F. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and toss. Arrange potato slices in single layer on heavyweight rimmed baking sheet or in 13×9-inch baking dish. Place on top rack of oven and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes (Note: Original recipe said 40 minutes but mine only took about 20 minutes since they were thinner.  Flip them half way too so both sides get brown). Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with thyme sprigs.

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate and Pecans

Adapted from  Bobby Flay, Mesa Grill
Serves: 4

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Seeds from 1 or 2 pomegranates
¼ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts

Also crazy easy to prepare…

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place Brussels sprouts on a large baking sheet, toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until just cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. (Shake the pan half way through so none burn).
2. Transfer sprouts to a large bowl and stir in the pomegranates seeds and walnuts.

  One Response to “Sides to be Thankful For: Thyme-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranate and Pecans”

  1. yum. my favorite holiday as well. by far.

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