After I wrote about my infatuation with roasted brussels sprouts in my typical day post, several readers requested the recipe (probably because, like me, they’ve previously had a hate affair with this poor, much-maligned vegetable). The lowly Brussels sprout doesn’t get much respect – it generally tops the list of most-hated vegetables – and until just the last year or so, I too was not a fan. In the past, I had only been served Brussels sprouts that had been boiled within an inch of their lives, and they were limp and unappealing at best, not to mention…..pungent.
It’s a shame because Brussels sprouts are fairly inexpensive (around $2 per pound), and like all cruciferous vegetables they’re packed with phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and fiber that’s important for your health. Studies have shown that certain components of cruciferous veggies have the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells in the breast, uterine lining, lungs, colon, liver, and cervix, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Also, studies that track the diets of people over time have found that diets high in cruciferous vegetables are linked to lower rates of prostate cancer (a personal concern for me, because of my husband’s family history).
On our 11th anniversary weekend trip, my husband and I had a 3-course meal at a wonderful restaurant, and roasted Brussels sprouts were one of the side dishes.
When the plate was put in front of me, my intention was to scoop the sprouts onto my husband’s plate because he’s always liked them, but I decided to be adventurous and try one. To my great surprise, it was delicious! Roasting brings out the natural sweetness in the sprouts, and the outer leaves become deliciously crispy – better than any potato chip I’ve ever had. Plus, roasted sprouts (actually any roasted veggie) are very easy to whip up, and they’re a perfect accompaniment for salmon, beef or chicken.
To make them, you should first preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare your pan. I like to use a large baking sheet lined with nonstick foil, or my favorite pan lining paper. If you haven’t tried this stuff, you must. It’s foil on one side, and parchment on the other, and it’s perfect for roasting veggies. Easy clean-up, and nothing sticks! (I do not, however, recommend it for cookies, simply because the edges tend to curl in and get stuck in the dough. Use a Silpatinstead for baking. I love Silpats even more than pan-lining paper!)
Trim the little, woody stems off the sprouts.
If the sprouts are really large, I like to cut them in half because they will roast more quickly. Your goal is for all the sprouts to be fairly uniform in size so they cook evenly. If any leaves fall off, don’t discard them! They will be delicious when roasted. Give the sprouts a thorough rinse,
then spread them out on your prepared baking sheet. Pat them dry with a paper towel. You want to remove as much moisture as possible because if you don’t, your sprouts will steam instead of roasting, and you won’t achieve that delicious, caramelized crispiness.
Scoop the sprouts into a pile and drizzle on a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Toss with your hands to coat each sprout with oil,
then spread them out into a single layer, and sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. I like to use coarse sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper because they add a little crunch, and a burst of extra flavor in every bite.
Roast the sprouts for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Don’t overcook, or they will be mushy.
You can roast nearly any vegetable this way – you just need to adjust the cooking time. Carrots and potatoes may take 40-45 minutes, whereas broccoli or green beans only take about 20 minutes. I sometimes roast several vegetables with similar cooking times together, and sprinkle them with rosemary and basil. Carrots, onions, and Brussels sprouts are a great combination.
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