Be devout to the sprout with this delicious side dish

Sprouts should feature regularly on our plates, shredded and mixed like a coleslaw or cooked in ham water for a delicious, salty cabbage-like side dish

Roast sprouts with homemade tahini sauce

Roast sprouts with homemade tahini sauce

 

For some time now I’ve been making hummus without one of its traditional ingredients; tahini. Instead I’ve been soaking sesame seeds in water then blitzing them to a creamy sauce to give the hummus a light fluffy texture with no oiliness. Once I realised I had no tahini to create this sprout dish, I decided to start with sesame seeds to make my sauce.

Here I’ve toasted them slightly though to give a nuttier flavour. It’s always fun to work backwards and make your own basic ingredients that you can take for granted every day like tomato passata, wholegrain mustard or yogurt. Making something from scratch gives a whole new appreciation for the end product. If you already have tahini then just use two heaped tablespoons and continue with the recipe as normal.

One of my favourite sprout dishes is to coat the sprouts in balsamic vinegar and honey then roast alongside plump black grapes. Scatter with toasted pecan nuts before serving. We ate this countless time last year. Spouts should feature regularly on our plates. Shredded and mixed like a coleslaw or cook them in the ham water for a delicious salty cabbage like side dish. Sprouts are great added to stir fries too. They can take plenty of seasoning and strong flavours like chili or anchovy. I always like to lift those brassica flavours with a fresh burst of citrus.

For the past few years there’s been a sprout shortage. We usually eat around 100 million sprouts each Christmas here in Ireland. They are one of the most difficult  brassicas to grow.  A lack of summer sunshine led to dwindling sprout numbers in 2016, while 2015 was the year of the Sprout Drought with a major sprout shortage due to wet weather. I remember one of my aunts visiting our house on Christmas morning that year. She ignored the smoked salmon we offered and instead focussed on the mountain of sprouts my sister was peeling. She was delighted heading home with a paper bag full of them. This year though sprouts will be firmly back on the menu. Please do support local farmers and buy vegetables that are grown in Ireland for your festive feast. All of the traditional Christmas vegetables are grown well here, red cabbage, potatoes, carrot, parsnip and sprouts. They will be freshly picked, ripe and will stay fresh for longer than those jaded cheap vegetables that have flown in.  You really will taste the difference. 

Roast sprouts with homemade tahini sauce
Serves 6

100g sesame seeds
1 small garlic clove
200ml water
Juice of 2 lemons
600g sprouts
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ pomegranate, seeds removed
Sea salt to taste
2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 200C.

First make the tahini sauce. Toast the sesame seeds for a few minutes in a large frying pan. Leave the seeds to cool slightly before blitzing them in a food processor or nutribullet with the garlic clove, water and lemon juice till smooth. Add sea salt to taste. Set aside.

Barely trim the end of each sprout if needs be, but it needs to still hold together. Cut each sprout in half.

Place the sprouts on a large baking tray. Coat the spouts in the olive oil and lay them all down flat cut side down. Season with sea salt and roast for 20 mins. Turn the tray half way and make sure no pieces are burning.

Transfer the sprouts to a serving platter. Drizzle with the tahini sauce. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over and scatter with the pomegranate arils. Serve right away. 

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