Brussels sprouts with wild rice and walnuts

When my children started school, they often brought home little “friendship books” from their classmates. The point of these books was apparently to gather confidential information and everyone was supposed to paste in a passport photograph and answer tens of questions ranging from : “what is your phone number?” to “who is your best friend?”. And also: “What is your least favourite food?”

And that’s how my kids found out that liking brussels sprouts is not done. Until then they both loved the perfectly formed  miniature cabbages, but after finding out that brussels sprouts were the least favourite food of about 90 % of their classmates, they started having doubts.

Personally, I think the problem is not the sprouts (or broccoli or kale or…) but the Dutch habit of cooking vegetables in plenty of water for at least 30 minutes. Most of the taste then gets thrown out with cooking water and you’re left with a mushy, greyish mass. Now, I don’t like that either.
But treated properly, lightly steamed for just 6 to 8 minutes and then tossed with bright citrussy-maple syrup-Dijon mustard dressing, and combined with wild rice and crunchy roasted walnuts, they still might have a chance. Give them a go, please!

Brussels sprouts with wild rice and walnuts
Adapted (generously) from Martha Steward: Martha’s Entertaining
I was only able to find a mix of wild rice and whole grain rice (that contained just 8% wild rice) and could not find any Cinderella to separate the two, I just used the mix. It was still very tasty, but of course if you can find wild rice, use that. I also added orange juice and olive oil to the dressing. And substituted another impossible to find ingredient (red pearl onions) with something ubiquitous (red onion).

11/2 cups wild rice or a mixture of whole grain and wild rice
500 g brussels sprouts
¾ cup walnuts (or pecans)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 red onions
1 tbsp soy sauce (I used tamari)

juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt, pepper

In a bowl whisk together all dressing ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Stir in wild rice (or the combination of whole grain and wild), reduce to simmer and cook (uncovered) until tender, about 30 – 40 min. Drain rice. Add dressing to rice and stir well, so that rice can absorb the flavours.

Toast the walnuts (or pecans) in a large sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 min. Transfer to a bowl.
Cut the onions in half, then cut each half in 4 or 5 segments. Heat olive oil in the pan and add onions. Sauté until tender and lightly browned, about 10 – 15 min. Add soy sauce and cook for a minute more.

Trim brussels sprouts, then score an X into the bottom of each one. Place in a steaming basket or a colander set in a saucepan filled with 1 inch of water. Bring water to boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and steam until just tender – 6 to 8 minutes.

Add brussels and onions to rice, toss gently. Coarsely chop the walnuts and add just before serving, warm or at room temperature.

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