I have a few grievances about the past. I’m well on my way to letting go of most of them; you know, living in “the now” and all. But one that is especially difficult to reconcile: I’ve only been eating Brussels sprouts for a year. As a kid, Brussels sprouts were the go-to vegetable for instant “ewww, gross” ignorance. The veggie scapegoat – like the teenager who acts out and then gets all the blame for family-wide, rampant dysfunction. All this time, sprouts were so deliciously perfect, and I never knew. We have a lot of catching up to do.
- 1 bag or 1 “tree” Brussels sprouts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 heaping teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional – don’t use if your family has heat sensitivity)
- 1/2 lemon
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Heat a tea kettle or microwave a large glass pitcher of water to boiling. If you bought your sprouts still on the stalk or the “tree” as I like to call it, simply break them off. Cut the larger sprouts in half, and leave the smaller ones whole. Wash them, and place them in a metal colander in your sink. Pour the boiling water over the sprouts, and watch them go from camo to beautiful, bright green (this is an easy version of “blanching”, which is a preparation step for roasting dense vegetables – it makes a huge difference in the outcome). Rinse them with cold tap water (this stops the impact of the hot water, preventing a heart-breaking mushy texture), and then dry them on a clean dish towel (this helps them brown evenly). In a large bowl, stir the sprouts, olive oil, salt, pepper and chili flakes together. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spread the sprouts evenly over the pan. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, squeeze the lemon half over the sprouts and use a spatula to give them a good final stir. Look at that. Some of the sprouts will be dark, golden brown – those are the best. The flavor of the little leaves that fell off the sprouts and almost got charred in the oven? An angel was whittling a pegasus out of heaven-wood, and some shavings fell into your mouth.
Sprouts reheat deliciously. If you have leftovers, grind them in your food processor, adding a 1/2 cup to pasta sauce for extra veggie-carbs.
Throw them on the grill to add a layer of smokiness – follow the recipe, but instead of using your oven, slide the prepared sprouts onto metal skewers (if you used the red chili flakes, wear gloves to avoid burning your fingers), and grill them over hot coals on one side for 3-4 minutes, then use tongs to flip them, grilling the other side for an another 3-4 minutes. Don’t worry if they blacken a little – they’ll taste amazing. Grilling produces a crunchier texture. If you want them softer, move them to the edge of your grill off the direct heat of the coals, and let them cook about 5-10 minutes longer. Don’t forget the lemon juice at the end.
Another tip? Be kind to yourself in the kitchen. Don’t say things like, “I suck at cooking,” because it’s not true and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Remind yourself that the biggest reason you’re cooking is to improve health for yourself and your family, which is a form of love. And love makes things taste so f’ing good.
Here’s To Sanity and Whittling,