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Fiddle dee dee: Coconut-Braised Sprouts with Cannellini Beans

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Coconut-braised Sprouts with Cannellini Beans

Are you a fiddler? Because I definitely am. No, I’m not coming clean about my ADD or professing some kind of musical gift, rather I’m talking about recipe fiddling. That insatiable urge to tamper, alter or tweak a new recipe into submission before you’ve even got a chance to know each other. I hear that there are people out there who don’t do this. Have read that some cooks like to make a dish as written, particularly on a first attempt. Are you one of these people? If so, please speak up, because I’m longing to know how on earth you do it.

The other day I mentioned that I was dying to try Orangette‘s Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts, and it’s true. This recipe has been on my mental to-make list for months, if not years. However, it seems like Brussels sprouts and cream are opposing forces in my house; fate seems to ensure that I never have both in the fridge at the same time. But lo and behold, I recently found myself possessed of both sprouts and cream, as well as a desire to eat. So what did I do?

Why I fiddled of course. I decided that instead of listening to fate, instead of heeding Molly’s advice or the advice of the 60+ positive comments on her post, I was going to make this dish different. Better, even. Instead of cream, I’d use coconut milk! Instead of butter, olive oil, and toasted cumin seeds. While we’re at it, why not throw some cannellini beans in there, as well? (Regular readers know this is a favourite meal-maker of mine.)

And yes, it was delicious. And yes, more filling (with a side of brown rice) than the original would have been. But now I still haven’t made the Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts, and I’ve got another recipe with which to distract me from them. See where fiddling gets you?

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Coconut-braised Sprouts with Cannellini Beans

adapted from Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts from Orangette

serves 2 as a main


  • 3/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 200g washed, trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 x 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • dash soy sauce
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped cashews (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. desiccated unsweetened coconut

  1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat and add the cumin seeds. Shake and toast the seeds for about 30 seconds until very fragrant. Add olive oil and allow to coat the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the sprouts to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, tossing a couple times to ensure some nice browning. Pour in the coconut milk, turn the heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes before adding the cannellini beans, then continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir; the coconut milk will have reduced to a thick, golden sauce by now. Stir in the lemon juice and soy sauce, and season to taste. Serve, with the cashew/coconut topping, if using.
  4. To make the topping, heat a small pan over very high heat and add the chopped cashews. As soon as they start to brown, add the coconut and toast everything together, keeping the pan moving, for another 30 seconds or so.
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5 Responses

  1. I like the sound of this variation better than the original.

    I’m a fiddler as well but usually, that’s because I haven’t got all the ingredients or I’m trying to cut corners! It comes from necessity, not creativity.

  2. Now I have two recipes to try!!!

    Happy Days, I love to find new things to do with vegetables.

    Love the blog:-}

  3. i TOO just changed this recipe from orangette. i was inspired to scour her blog archives for it after listening to her braising podcast on SPILLED MILK– however– i wasn’t interested in all that heavy cream and butter. i browned my sprouts in a bit of coconut oil, then braised them in coconut milk. the cumin seeds & rice sound like a brilliant idea! i can’t wait to try that variation!

  4. I’m not a fiddler, or not usually anyway. I tend to follow the recipe the first time, make notes in the cookbook, then make changes the next time. But as I get more confidence and more experience, sometimes I will tinker. I think you did good here! I prefer coconut milk to cream any day and beans are the greatest!

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