Friday, November 21, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts.


They get kind of a bad rap, huh? Always considered the "grossest" vegetable. So gross, in fact, that the very name "Brussels sprouts" seems to cause even the most open-minded face to cringe just a tiny bit when they're mentioned.

I had Brussels sprouts when I was a kid. They were disgusting. I hated them.

But something has been happening lately on the Internet...people have been making Brussels sprouts for their families...and their families LOVE them! I was intrigued. And when I walked into Trader Joe's the other day and was faced with this:

I thought...hmmmmmmm...could be that it's time to try Brussels sprouts again!

I dug around and looked at a few different recipes. Clearly the best way to do this is to roast them. Which is great, because roasting is my favorite way to prepare vegetables! A lot of people suggested Balsamic vinegar, and a lot of people said garlic, and a lot of people said lemon. Well, I happen to have all of those things. So I brought it home...

Click the jump to see how THIS weird little experiment turned out!

First things first, I took to wrenching the individual sprouts off of the stalk, which was, I'm not ashamed to admit, immensely satisfying. It wasn't until after I'd finished that I actually read the back of the tag that came wrapped around the stalk, which suggested roasting them ON the stalk and then picking them off one by one to eat. That would have been fun! Fortunately, these stalks are only $2.99 at TJ's, so I can try that next time.

Once I'd taken them all off, I found I had completely filled a large metal bowl:

That's a LOT of Brussels sprouts! I sure hope this works. They really do look like little alien eggs, don't they? At this point I started to get nervous. Even the stalk looked like something from another planet after I was done:

I gave the sprouts a good, thorough wash (they really needed it - they were FILTHY!), then spent a meditative 10 minutes chopping off the stems and cutting the sprouts in half lengthwise. I saw that the insides looked a little like cauliflower...

Then I mixed up a little dressing with equal parts lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, and added a few teaspoons of minced garlic and a healthy amount of salt and pepper.

After I tossed that dressing into the sprouts, I figured it couldn't hurt to put more oil and vinegar on them, so I sort of eyeballed it and added more until it looked/smelled something close to "right." Then I spread them out on a couple of cookie sheets and put them in a hot oven and crossed my fingers.

I couldn't very well only serve my family Brussels sprouts, could I?

So right after the sprouts went into the oven, I quickly prepared my favorite tilapia recipe:

3 tilapia fillets, sprinkled with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and herbs de provence, with a pat of butter on each one. I wrapped it up in foil and popped it in the oven when the sprouts had about 15 minutes left.

The sprouts popped and crackled. They snapped and bubbled. They made all kinds of weird noises that kind of freaked me out. Then...the smell hit me. They smelled...for the love of all things holy, they smelled sweet! Like roasted broccoli, but sweeter. When I pulled them out of the oven they looked like this:

And I started salivating. They had caramelized beautifully, and I realized that the sugar content in Brussels sprouts must be pretty high to get such lovely browning. The balsamic had sort of glazed over them and they were shiny and lovely from the olive oil.

The plate was not much to look at...

But DAMN those Brussels sprouts were delicious!!! So super sweet, and crunchy, and a little chewy, and heavy. They could absolutely be a meal all by themselves, especially if you wanted to add a little prosciutto and parmesan (which I will be trying soon).

I loved them. My boyfriend loved them. My daughter loved them. My son hated them and had to be bribed with more bread rolls. That's okay - maybe it's possible that there is some genetic aversion that 8-year-olds have to Brussels sprouts. He'll grow out of it. After I made him eat 10 (just 10), he sighed with relief, then said, "Actually I guess those weren't THAT bad." But he wouldn't eat any more. Oh well. He did a pretty good job.

I will definitely, definitely make these again. In fact, this super-simple recipe is going to end up in our Thanksgiving spread!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Recipe!!!


2-3 lbs. Brussel sprouts (I bought a stalk, which was super fun)
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 tsp. minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  2. If you bought a stalk, wrench those little sprouts off the stalk with purpose. Give them a good thorough rinse under cold water, picking off any yellowed leaves and scrubbing them clean of any dirt that you see. Soak them for a few minutes, then rinse them again.
  3. Using a super sharp knife, cut off the stems, then cut the sprouts in half lengthwise. You'll lose a few more outer leaves this way, but that's okay. Pat them dry-ish with a paper towel.
  4. Mix the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a little bowl until combined, then toss it into the Brussels sprouts.
  5. Add more vinegar/oil as you see fit. Add some more salt and pepper too.
  6. Spread them out on a cookie sheet. The oil you added to them should be sufficient to keep them from sticking to the pan, but if you want to use a silicon sheet or some foil and some cooking spray, that's probably fine.
  7. Roast them for 20-25 minutes or until they are nice and brown and smelling amazing.
  8. Serve!

The moral of the story: don't let your tastes from your childhood dictate your taste as an adult. You've changed!


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