Whenever I talk to someone not originally from Florida, especially a recent transplant, one of the first complaints I'm likely to hear is that they miss the change of seasons. Well, guess what? The seasons change here in Florida, too. The signs are just a lot more subtle, so you have to pay closer attention. Sure, we don't get that "in your face" lavish display of reds, golds and oranges dotting our landscape, or those cool, crisp temperatures that traditionally mark the arrival of fall. But, that doesn't mean it isn't here.
In Florida, autumn sneaks in on tiptoes. An early morning 75 degrees the past several days has felt distinctly different from the early morning 75 degrees of a month ago. And the air looks just the merest touch clearer, the curves and angles of our skyline ever so slightly sharper. The change is barely perceptible, but I know its there. Maybe it comes from living here for more than three decades, but I can see it. I can feel it too.
Another harbinger of Autumns arrival is seen in our gardens and our markets. A profusion of fall fruits and vegetables have recently popped up all over. Crisp apples, juicy pears, yellow-fleshed squash and pumpkins, among others, line the shelves in the produce department, waiting to be transformed into pies, tarts, soups and the like.
I found some vibrant and very fresh Brussels sprouts the other day. Since they are one of my husband's favorite vegetables, I decided to pick some up and see what I could create with them. I came up with this dish, which is a variation on one that I often make for Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of cooking the sprouts whole, I slice them very thinly and saute them with chopped pecans, red grapes and lots of bacon, because...well, everything's better with bacon.
Let me tell you, these Brussels sprouts are outstanding! Thinly slicing them enables the other flavors in the dish to really permeate. Each bite has the perfect balance of smoky bacon, crunchy pecans and sweet grapes that just pop in your mouth. While regular old red seedless grapes work just fine, if you can find those tiny champagne grapes, grab them. They are terrific in this dish!
You really have got to try this one, even if you dont love Brussels sprouts. I swear, youll never look at them the same way again!
Brussels Sprouts Saute with Bacon, Pecans and Red Grapes
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 slices bacon
1 large or 2 small shallots, diced
1/2 to 1 cup pecan pieces, depending upon how much you like pecans
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced very thinly and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup red seedless or champagne grapes, rinsed
1. Preheat a large sauté pan or skillet on medium-high heat. Add olive oil.
2. Cut bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and add to pan. Cook 34 minutes until bacon just begins to crisp.
3. Stir in shallot and pecans. Cook another 34 minutes, stirring often until bacon is fully crisped.
4. Stir in sugar and vinegar. Add Brussels sprouts and salt. Cook, stirring often, until vinegar is reduced and sprouts are done to desired tenderness.
5. Add grapes and saute for just another minute or two more.