Well-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts 2016I had no idea! Okay – so I had a little bit of an idea, but I didn’t realize that I could love Brussels sprouts even more than I already did. I have loved sprouts ever since I discovered them roasted. After that, I branched out and have discovered a number of different ways that I love to eat them. This has been going on for years now. I’ve learned ways to love them sautéd, shredded, raw, braised, natural, sauced, so many ways. What I also learned, though, is that typically I don’t like them boiled or previously frozen. Those are totally different beasts.

What happened here was that I went to watch a play-off football game at some friends’ house while I was doing a Whole30. My friend graciously roasted off brussies and cauliflower to snack on but she did them a little differently than I do. I have a tendency to cook my veggies to al dente, leaving a little bite to them and keeping some of the bright green color. When I had hers, though, they were cooked longer. And they were awesome.

Of course, I had to try it at home within days. Cooked long and low, they are allowed to really caramelize. The outer leaves get crispy, while the inside becomes meltingly tender. The flat side becomes golden and chewy. The whole vegetable is transformed. Generally I prefer the smaller ones, but not in this case. Either worked really well, but the bigger ones ended up having more crisp on the outside and more tenderness on the inside. I honestly can’t get enough of these. Here’s a little secret too – if you toss them with just a little melted butter at the end, they’re even more amazing. I hope you love them as much as I do!

Well-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

2 lbs. Brussels sprouts

2 Tbsp. Olive oil (or other fat of choice)

Large pinch of salt

Cracked black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut the sprouts in half. Generally, I will cut off the bottom, but even the stem gets tender with this preparation so I often leave them as they are.
  3. Toss the sprouts with the oil and salt generously. Add pepper to taste.
  4. Spread the sprouts on a cookie sheet, making sure the cut side of each sprout is face-down on the pan.
  5. Roast for about 45 minutes. You might even go for an hour – you want nice and dark, but not burned, so taste and decide.
  6. Try not to burn your fingers as you eat them straight from the pan.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms

Brussels sproutsRoasting is one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables. Take just about any vegetable, add a fat, some salt and pepper, and heat from the oven and you wind up with a sweetly caramelized, tender and delicious, totally transformed creation. Even if you think you don’t like a certain vegetable, I challenge you to try it roasted. You just might change your mind.

Brussels sprouts and mushrooms are a wonderfully earthy combination. When roasted, they both become tender but they also retain some density to them, almost a meaty chew. A winter staple in our house, I hope you like them too!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms

2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved or quartered

2 1/2 c. thickly sliced mushrooms

1/2 an onion

5 cloves of whole, peeled garlic

2 Tbsp. fat of choice, melted if solid (I used freshly rendered lard from a pastured pig)

3/4 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

2 tsp. parsley, optional garnish

1/2 tsp. orange zest, optional garnish

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet.

2) Slice the halved onion lengthwise down the middle and then crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Break apart and place on the baking sheet with the sprouts and mushrooms. Add the garlic, lard or other fat, salt and pepper, and toss thoroughly to combine.

3) Roast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until tender and well caramelized, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, taste to adjust seasonings, and add parsley and orange zest if desired.

Serves 4

Jeweled Brussels Sprouts

Jeweled Brussels Sprouts 2013

Brussels sprouts – I’ve heard that people either love ’em or hate ’em, but lately I’ve noticed people giving these cute little cabbages a second chance. In our house, we are big fans and like them cooked in a variety of ways. With the holidays approaching, this preparation is just perfect! I braise the Brussels sprouts rather than roasting them, so the oven is freed up for other cooking adventures, and top them with a pretty combination of toasted pecans, chewy dried cranberries, and a fresh burst of lemon zest.

I made this dish for friends, including two 8 year olds, and it was a big hit. The kids preferred their Brussels sprouts without the topping and that’s totally fine! The biggest compliments came when my son said, “Yay! Brussels sprouts!” and our little friend asked her mom to make them “just like this” next time. I am not making that up!

Winter is the perfect time for this delightful vegetable. They are sweetest when they are still small, but the most important thing is to buy them fresh – not frozen. So grab some the next time you see them and maybe even consider this dish for your holiday table. I know we will!

Jeweled Brussels Sprouts

1 lb. Brussels sprouts

2 tsp. bacon grease

1 shallot, finely chopped about 1/4 c.

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. vegetable or chicken broth

2 T. pecans, toasted and chopped

2 T. dried cranberries (without sugar, preferred), chopped

1 tsp. lemon zest

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Start by cutting the bottoms off of the Brussels sprouts. Depending on the size, leave them whole if they’re quite small, halve them, or quarter them. The idea is to have a bowl full of similarly sized bites. Remove any damaged looking leaves and put all the rest of the sprouts into a strainer to give them a bit of a rinse.

2) Melt the bacon grease in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the shallots for about 3 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the Brussels sprouts, along with any water clinging to them, to the pan and sprinkle with the salt. Stir to coat everything and allow it to heat up a bit, just a minute or two. Add the broth and cover with a lid. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding a tablespoon or two of water if the pan becomes dry before the sprouts are done to your liking.

3) When the Brussels sprouts are tender, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and allow to brown and caramelize slightly by leaving them undisturbed for a couple minutes at a time. Remove from the heat, add the toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and lemon zest. Season with additional salt, if necessary, and a few grinds of pepper.

Serves 4