It’s a hectic time of year and I’ll be working until Christmas Eve day, making festivities feel rushed and my stress level…stressy. I let my fingers do the walking this year and purchased most of my gifts online, though they sit unwrapped in my closet. And I have an idea of what to cook on Christmas day (breakfast will be this recipe), though the groceries aren’t yet purchased. And I’m hosting the family Christmas at my dad’s house this year on the 27th, though I’ve yet to solidify the menu entirely (proteins are set, at least!). However, there are a few things I’m certain will come to fruition this Christmas day, namely, waking up at my dad’s house in my old room (28 going on 5), enjoying the yule log channel, and making a ginormous pot of coffee whilst waiting for my sister and dad to wake up. These aren’t traditions, just certainties.
Every single year I’ll do something new and think, Oh, I will definitely make this a Christmas tradition! It’s brilliant! And it never happens. One year it was tobogganing, another year it was making pancakes instead of strata for Christmas morning breakfast (what was I thinking?), last year it was the first (and last) annual Christmas Eve day walk downtown with my dog and my dad to buy stocking stuffers, and so on and so forth. So, I’m ignoring the idea of Christmas traditions altogether as I know they’re not going to happen anyway. And I feel entirely liberated. My Christmas tradition of not having Christmas traditions gives me the excuse to plan something interesting and new each year. Maybe next year I’ll spend the holidays in a new country. Or go to the movies. Or order take-out. But something I will be eternally stubborn and entirely unchangeable about, no matter where I am or with whom I’m celebrating, is a brussels sprouts dish on the holiday menu.
My Christmas dinners growing up were a traditional “meat and potatoes” feast. A couple of weeks ago I found a Christmas day menu (I’m talking breakfast through dessert), including brussels sprouts, handwritten by my mom in an ancient Canadian Living Christmas cookbook. Brussels sprouts were on the menu that year and every year, served tailed and kept whole. She never roasted them (or any other vegetable), preferring to steam (everything) instead. Of course, I prefer roasted
because I’m a difficult child as it brings out their inherent caramel-like sweetness. A bonus of roasting over steaming brussels sprouts is the sprout “chip” that magically makes itself if you separate a few of the outer leaves before roasting. You should probably take the extra minute to do that.
To make this a gutsier side (think BRUSSELS SPROUTS(!) instead of brussels sprouts), the roasted sprouts are tossed with ravenesque, grapey black rice and a zippy citronette (a vinaigrette including citrus juice, gussied up with a gourmet name), along with celery for a touch of crunch. The result is a spectacular sprout side dish using the Christmas menu stalwart, prepared my style: against the traditional side dish-grain (with a glam grain) for something decidedly “Christmas 2015.”
Wishing you Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! May your non-requisite traditions be whatever you want them to be.
- ½ cup uncooked black rice (forbidden rice)
- 1 cup water
- 1 pound brussels sprouts, tailed and quartered
- 1 tablespoon refined avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced celery
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup clementine juice (from 2 clementines) or orange juice
- 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cold-pressed flaxseed oil
- ground black pepper, to taste
- In a medium saucepan, bring rice and water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and steam, covered, for 5 minutes. Add to a large mixing bowl along with celery and salt; toss.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss brussels sprouts with avocado oil or olive oil and roast for 15–20 minutes, until tender and beginning to caramelize. Add to rice mixture; toss.
- In a small bowl, combine clementine or orange juice, flaxseed oil, vinegar, and pepper. Add to salad, toss to combine, and serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.