A couple of months ago I entered a contest on the PETA website and won (whoot whoot!!) a copy of the vegan cookbook, The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry. Last night I let it inspire me to create my own dish: caramelized fennel and Brussels sprouts with black turtle beans over grits.
The recipes inside The Inspired Vegan are bursting with the bold flavors of Africa and categorized by season. My favorite part of the book is the "inspiration" column on each page that pairs each recipe with a soulful song and book title.
One recipe that caught my eye was the Savory Grits with Sauteed Broad Beans, Roasted Fennel, and Thyme on page 44. Here's how Terry prepares it:
I wanted to make this last night but didn't have broad beans but did have Brussels sprouts and black turtle beans. I did a quick search and found Emeril's recipe for carmelizing fennel and Brussels sprouts, so merged the two recipes into this super tasty, easy to prepare and completely vegan masterpiece:
I made this dish for just my husband, baby and I, so the recipe below serves approximately 3 people. Add to all the ingredients as you deem fit. No hard and fast rules here:
2 TBS oil (we used coconut oil, but any would do)
1 Fennel bulb sliced
1 Yellow onion sliced
8 Brussels sprouts halved
1 vegan bouillon cube
1/2 cup water
2 TBS Yacon (or maple) syrup
1 cup of beans (we used black turtle beans, but any would do)
1 vegan bouillon cube
1 tsp vegan butter or oil
4 TBS water
1 cup grits (cooked according to package)
2 TBS vegan cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp of chopped fresh fennel leaves to garnish
PREPPING THE BEANS:
If you are using dried beans, make sure they are boiled and fork tender for this dish. I did the soak-overnight-then-boil-for-an-hour method to get mine soft enough to chew. You can also use frozen or canned.
In a large saute pan on medium heat, mix 2 TBS of oil and the sliced fennel, onion and Brussels sprouts. Stir occasionally for five minutes while veggies sweat.
While the veggies are doing their thing, mix the beans, 4 TBS water, pat of butter and a bouillon cube on medium heat to break down the cube and lube up the beans. Reduce heat to low on the beans until ready to serve. Add more water as necessary.
Now back to the big pan of veggies: add the 1/2 cup water and bouillon cube to the fennel mixture in the big pan so veggies can soften. Cover with lid for ten minutes or so, monitoring. You want the water to be actively boiling, but not out of control.
Last pot: While the beans are on standby and the veggies are boiling, start boiling the grits according to the bag's instructions in a separate pot. When the water has been absorbed, stir in the 2 TBS of vegan cream cheese (I like Tofutti) to give the grits creaminess. Reduce heat to low until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.
Back to the veggies for the final touch: Once the veggies are soft and the water evaporated out of the pan, pour in 2 TBS of Yacon or maple syrup. Molasses or sorghum would work too. Toss all the veggies to coat.
Scoop the grits into each bowl, cover with the beans and veggies, then sprinkle the chopped fennel leaves on top for pizazz.
This looks like a lot of juggling of pots on paper, but in practice you'll see that it's a super easy meal to prepare. I think you'll agree with me that it's a great dish to serve company because it looks and tastes fancy but comes together very easily.
This dish adapts very well to little eaters, too. Goose LOVED hers. Everything in the dish is soft enough for little mouths to chew, even the sprouts.
Now that dinner is made, sit back and enjoy the song that inspired Mr. Terry to write his original fennel and grits recipe: