The exciting world of brussels sprouts, and the simplest recipe ever
Brussels sprouts. These little cabbage cousins get a bad rap in general, which likely detracts most people from trying or letting themselves be a fan. But but it can’t be just me that really likes them, considering how often I’ve recently seen them around lately. Hashed, roasted, braised, and more often than not paired with garlic and some sort of ham product (bacon, pancetta, prosciutto …), brussels sprouts are making a triumphant return to the modern diet.
Luckily, as a child I was not subjected to the soggy, sulphurous brussels sprouts of shared American experience. The first time I had a sprout was in the dining hall in college, which surprisingly enough was just far enough from overcooked that I was willing to give these little green globes another chance.
And boy am I glad I did. When done correctly, brussels sprouts can be heavenly little friends, vessels of the flavors with which you cook them (again, let’s emphasize the garlic and the pork products) but maintain a pleasantly firm bite and a lovely green flavor. When hashed, you can make a lovely cooked slaw-like salad, perfect for adding flavors like citrus, garlic, and vinegar. When roasted, the smaller outer leaves are left to brown and crisp, creating that perfect array of textures and flavors within each bite that has caused people around the world to put potato chips on sandwiches and crunchy tacos inside of soft tacos (how I love thee, Crunchwrap Supreme).
And let me emphasize that most of all I love them roasted. Simple, fast, and incredibly easy to make, and absolutely served in my favorite way – topped with a fried or poached egg. Last winter we started with Mark Bittman’s garlic-laden recipe, which was a perfect place to enter into the Exciting World of Brussels Sprouts (hold onto your hats, folks, it’s a wild ride).
Last night I made it even simpler, though, and simply roasted them with oil, salt and pepper, and drizzled them with balsamic vinegar before topping with a fried egg and serving alongside potato pancakes (with homemade applesauce) and a dry riesling. Perfect for the first night home after what felt like a long and busy holiday.
Also, I really hope I never mention Taco Bell on this blog ever again.
Roasted brussels sprouts
- Brussels sprouts (however many you need, depending on number of people and desired serving size)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Balsamic vinegar
– Preheat oven to 400F.
– Trim the very bottom off of the sprouts (no need to take off much, just any stem remainder). Halve each sprout, and discard any of the outermost smallest leaves that fall off. It is inevitable that other leaves will fall off, but that’s okay. They crisp during the roasting process and are very tasty.
– Mix halved sprouts with enough oil to coat, and season with salt and pepper.
– Spread sprouts on a baking sheet and bake until tender yet still firm – a fork should go through from the cut side, but there should still be some resistance – about 30-40 minutes, depending on size of sprouts. Stir on the pan every 10 minutes, and start checking for doneness after 20 minutes or so.
– Drizzle (or splash, is likely more accurate) with balsamic vinegar before serving, and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.