The title of this post is deliberately misleading. Lets face it, brussels sprouts are not high on the ‘oh my god, get in my belly’ list of veggies for most people. Cooked for too long it’s like eating a mouthful of farts, but quickly fried or roasted in a little olive oil until golden and they develop a deliciously nutty flavour that can’t be beat. Combined with salty haloumi, a citrus dressing and tart, crunchy pomegranate arils there is a wonderful complexity that, I suspect, will transform even the most ardent sprout hater.
The inspiration for this dish came from a couple of places, the first is from the woman who inspired my own love of cooking, Heidi Swanson, who does an amazingly simple brussels sprouts dish. The second source was via Laura from The First Mess who wrote about her incredibly festive combo of brussels sprouts and pomegranates. Inspired, I decided to have a go at making something that was more than a side and this is what I came up with. When selecting your sprouts, try to go for the smaller, tighter ones as they’ll brown up and cook through quickly without turning to mush. Before you start cooking, trim off the ends and remove any loose outer leaves.
My obsession with haloumi is well-known but I’m not about to give it up, I think the saltiness brings a great contrast to the dish but, if you leave it out or replace it with, perhaps, some fat salty olives you’ll find a happy (& vegan!) compromise. To de-seed your pomegranate I recommend the incredibly fulfilling process of whacking the skin with a back of a spoon as demonstrated here, or you can dunk it in a bowl of water and gently peel away the arils (seeds) from the white flesh. Either way, it’s probably going to be a little messy so best change out of your ball gown before you proceed.
To finish, when preparing your cous cous, try to play up the flavours a little. I added a couple of teaspoons of dukkha, a stock cube and a couple of bay leaves. The cous cous will soak up the flavours like a sponge and it just adds another delicious dimension to the dish. So I hope you’ll give it a shot, there’s enough for two here but I will admit to having scoffed the lot in a single sitting.
- 10-12 small brussels sprouts - outer leaves and stems trimmed, cut in half
- 3 tbspns rice bran oil
- 1 tspn cumin seeds
- salt and pepper
- 1 pomegranate, de-seeded
- ¾ cup cous cous
- ⅔ cups of boiling water
- 1 vego stock cube
- 2 tspns dukkha (*optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- three thick slices of haloumi cheese (or ½ cup of roughly chopped olives if you prefer)
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbspns pine nuts
- Juice of 1 lime
- ½ cup coriander, roughly chopped
- ½ cup mint, roughly chopped
- ½ cup rocket, roughly chopped
- Heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
- Place brussels sprouts in an oven tray, add 2 tbspns olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Give the tray a shake at the ten minute mark.
- In a bowl add the cous cous, stock cube, dukkha and bay leaves. Pour boiling water over the top, mix well and then cover with a plate or cling wrap and set aside for 10 minutes.
- In a saucepan, heat a little olive oil over a medium-high heat. Fry the haloumi until brown on one side and then flip. When the other side has browned, flip the haloumi again and douse in lemon juice, allow to cook off for a minute or so, then flip and do the same on the other side.
- Remove from heat, add some freshly cracked black pepper and then transfer to some paper towel to drain. Cut into bite sized pieces.
- Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and add the pine nuts with a splash of olive oil. Cook gently on a low-medium heat until dark and fragrant.
- Remove the sprouts from the oven and drain the oil into a small bowl.
- Pour the saved oil from the sprouts over the top of the cous cous and then gently fluff with a fork.
- Transfer the cous cous to a large salad bowl.
- Add the lemon zest, lime juice and herbs and mix well to combine.
- Add the pomegranate arils, pine nuts and brussel sprouts and toss well to combine.
- Eat and enjoy!