A delicious and easy recipe for honey orange glazed brussels sprouts with butternut squash! Tossed with sweet, tangy sauce, cranberries, and crunchy pecans.
Brussels sprouts have become my new obsession. Roasted, fried, sauteed, it’s all good. I’m serious! It could be that as you age you have fewer taste buds, or maybe I’ve finally figured out how to make them irresistibly tasty. I’d like to think the latter, but either way this combo of earthy sprouts with sweet butternut squash is the way to go.
Did I mention the orange glaze? If I were a vegetable, I definitely wouldn’t mind being bathed in luscious spiced honey citrus sauce. When you serve this colorful bowl of honey orange glazed brussels sprouts and butternut squash for the holidays, they’ll be shining right next to your gigantic golden brown turkey.
It seems so long ago that I was in culinary school, the most challenging and best time in my life. I remember learning in my fundamentals class from the most rockstar chef, Danielle Goldstein how important it is to get plating and taste just right. She would touch each plate to make sure it was either warm or cold depending on the dish, and if we didn’t pay attention to detail, we would get an earful.
So what’s presentation all about? It’s the visual, color and shape of the ingredients. Then it’s the sensory, flavor and texture. As simple as this dish may be, you can take wholesome ingredients and pair them together to get just the right visual appeal and taste. What does this all mean? We eat with our eyes first, so you won’t have a big bowl of leftovers to feed to the dog, haha.
Brussels sprouts look like cute baby cabbages and have the same flavor and robust texture. For larger sprouts, I like to cut them in half down the center and blanch them in a large pot of salted boiling water for a few minutes. This makes the center more tender and easier to eat. These edible buds stay intact after cooking, making it easy to add some interesting texture and smoky flavor by charring them in a pan after blanching,
I have never eaten so much butternut squash in my life and all for good reason. I made a conscious decision that once baby James could eat solid foods about a year ago, I wanted to introduce a vegetable packed with nutrients like Vitamin A, C, and fiber.
Butternut squash jumped to the top of my list, and he eats it up like candy. I’ve tried to get creative with butternut squash macaroni and cheese and Indian chickpea curry. I thought that he would enjoy this dish during our holiday feasts. Plus the honey orange glaze has a touch of cinnamon and thyme which I know he will gobble up.
Sauteed brussels sprouts and butternut squash get to shine in this dish. To make it even more scrumptious, crunchy toasted pecans and tart dried cranberries add that extra droolabilty factor. The sweet sticky honey orange glaze is the icing on the cake, and you really couldn’t ask for more from a healthy vegetable side.
What is the purpose of blanching the brussels sprouts?
Raw brussels sprouts have dense layers of leaves and cooking helps to soften the texture of the vegetable. Trimming the sprouts and cutting them in half exposes more surface area of the vegetable to cook efficiently. A quick dip in boiling salted water called blanching does two things. They become more tender and the color changes. The salted water flavors the vegetable and weakens the pectin that holds the plants cell walls together. This is important because over cooked vegetables turn a dull olive green color. So the faster you can cook the sprouts, the more vibrant green it will look. To fully prepare brussels sprouts it takes about 6 to 8 minutes of blanching or 7 to 9 minutes of steaming. (Source: The Science of Good Cooking (Cook’s Illustrated Cookbooks)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
- 2 tablespoons honey
- zest of one orange
- 3 tablespoons orange juice , fresh squeezed
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper , freshly ground
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon , ground
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme , fresh chopped
- 1 pound brussels sprouts , washed, trimmed and halved
- 3 cups butternut squash , peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1 squash)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil , divided
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt , divided
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pecans , toasted
- Combine all glaze ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan, then add in butternut squash. Sprinkle the squash with a ¼ teaspoon of salt, stir to coat in the oil, and spread out in a single layer. Allow to cook for 5 minutes without stirring, so that the pieces begin to brown lightly. Stir and redistribute the pieces and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Stir again and cook until the squash is fork tender, about 15 minutes total. Remove the squash from the pan and pour into a bowl.
- As the squash cooks, bring enough salted water to cover the brussels sprouts to a boil. Add the halved sprouts and cook until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Drain well and shake off excess water.
- Heat another tablespoon of oil over medium heat using the same pan. Place the blanched sprouts cut side down, and sear until nicely browned, about 3 minutes. Turn over and sprinkle sprouts with ½ teaspoon of salt and cook for an additional 3 minutes until browned. Reduce the heat to low and add the squash back to the pan, and the orange glaze. Season with more salt and pepper as desired.
- Stir in the cranberries and pecans right before serving. Serve warm and enjoy!