Friday, October 26, 2012

Brussels Sprouts, Celery and Chard with Tofu

There are very few things that I did not like to eat when I was a kid. (A fact that is probably related to my mothers insisting on us eating everything she cooked, no matter what). So I liked most things that landed on my plate, expect for a period of time when I did not like beets, the phase of aversion against a salad called Chinese cabbage here, and the Brussels sprouts I was only confronted with when I visited my great grandmother together with my grandma.
There are only a few things I remember of her. She spent the last few years suffering from Alzheimer's, unable to talk or to recognize her daughters. But years before that, I sometimes went to visit her, together with the grandmother I wrote about last week. And one thing I distinctly remember is the small of boiled Brussels sprouts wafting all through her apartment. Still to this day, Brussels sprouts remind me of her and the house she lived in with its garden and the girls in the neighbourhood I used to play with.
I did not like Brussels sprouts back then, but thanks to my boyfriend, I came to really like them. Sautéed until slightly crispy, drizzled with a little maple syrup, they are completely different from the Brussels sprouts I was served in this apartment all those years ago. Maybe you never like them, either. But they are a totally different vegetable when not cooked to death, still crunchy in some places, caramelized in others, sweet and salty at the same time.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Celery and Red Chard with Tofu

Note: You could also leave out the red chard, but it add a nice pop of color to the otherwise green dish.

1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
1 stalk celery, leaves removed
3-4 stalks of red chard, leaves removed (use those in an other preparation, for example this chard pesto)
olive oil
200g firm tofu
maple syrup
salt and pepper

Prepare all your ingredients first. Wash and chop the stalks of celery and chard. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half and cut each half into 3-4 wedges.
Cut the tofu into triangles.
In a large cast iron pan on medium-high eat, heat a little olive oil. Sautée the vegetables in batches until the are cooked through and caramelized in some places, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Salt each batch individually. Drizzle a little maple syrup over each batch just before you remove it from the pan. Repeat until you run out of vegetables, adding more oil as needed.
Add the cooked vegetables all to a serving platter, clean the pan, add a little more olive oil and pan-fry the tofu until browned on all sides. Add about a tablespoon of maple syrup before removing the pan from the heat. Turn to coat all sides and then scatter the tofu triangles over the cooked vegetables.

Serves 2.

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