Today is the Autumnal Equinox. An equinox is "either of two points on the celestial sphere where the ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect." For the rest of us, it's one of two times each year when the Sun crosses the equator, and the day and night are the same length. Today, at 11:44:18 a.m. EDT, the Sun will have crossed the celestial equator, from north to south, marking the beginning of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.
In most other parts of the world, there would be obvious signs hinting of this day; a crispness in the air, touches of yellows and orange at the tops of the trees, a kiss of morning mist. But in the South, Autumn sneaks in on tiptoes. An early morning 75 degrees this past few days has felt distinctly different from the early morning 75 degrees two weeks ago. And the air looks just the merest touch clearer - the curves and angles of the landscape ever so slightly sharper. The change is barely perceptible, but I know it's there. I can see it. I can feel it too.
And then there's the moon. That magnificent harvest moon that makes an appearance around the same time each year! A few nights ago, as I was driving home from a meeting, I saw it. A giant, red-tinged golden orb in the sky, gilding everything below it with its warm, shimmering light.
Another harbinger of Autumn's arrival is seen in our gardens and our markets. A profusion of Fall fruits and vegetables have been popping up all over. Crisp apples, juicy pears, grapes, butternut squash and pumpkins, among others, are beginning to 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 Mr. SGCC'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 usually make for Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of cooking the sprouts whole, I sliced them very thinly and sauteed them with chopped pecans, champagne grapes and.....bacon.
Let me tell you, they were outstanding! Slicing the Brussels sprouts enabled the other flavors in the dish to really permeate them. Each bite had the perfect balance of smoky bacon, crunchy pecans and sweet baby grapes that just popped in our mouths. If you can't find champagne grapes, you could also use seedless red grapes in this dish. I really urge you to try this one, even if you don't love Brussels sprouts. I swear, you'll never look at them the same way again!
Bacon-Pecan Brussels Sprouts Saute with Champagne Grapes (Printable Recipe)
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 slices bacon
1 large or 2 small shallots, diced
1/2-1 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 champagne grapes, rinsed
Preheat large sauté pan or skillet on medium-high heat. Add olive oil.
Cut bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and add to pan. Cook 4–5 minutes until bacon just begins to crisp.
Stir in shallot and pecans. Cook 3–4 minutes, stirring often until bacon is fully crisped.
Stir in sugar and vinegar. Add Brussels sprouts and salt. Cook, stirring often, until vinegar is reduced and sprouts are done to desired tenderness.
Add grapes and saute for just another minute or two more.
Here are some other great ways to use Brussels sprouts: