Monday, April 8, 2013

Rome's Honeymoon Brussels Sprouts

First of all, did you know that they are actually "Brussels sprouts," and not "brussel sprouts"? I had to look it up - it seemed like too many plurals to me, until I made the city-vegetable connection. And then I looked around to see if anyone was coming for my Editor Street Cred Card (betcha didn't know we carried those...). But it seems I am safe, since I verified before publishing, like a good editor.

We are big Brussels sprouts fans around here. These poor vegetables have been so mistreated in so many kitchens - they really have an undeserved bad name. Like most vegetables, they are horrid when boiled into oblivion. To be fair, just about everything, except potatoes, is gross when boiled into grey mush.

My dad was the one who reintroduced us all to this charming wee veggie, with his life-changing recipe - it has converted more than a few haters. (My apologies on that embarrassing misspelling - in my defense, it was before I was issued that Street Cred Card). That recipe is a great and beautiful thing, requested at just about every family get-together we have with that side of the family. It does, however, break the reasonable leafy green-to-butter ratio that I strive for on non-celebratory occasions.

My brother has been tinkering in the kitchen with Brussels sprouts, and provided me with the inspiration for roasting them. You get a similar caramelized effect without quite as much oil and butter, and it's super quick and easy. It's perfect for a weeknight meal, and goes beautifully with just about any main dish. We like it especially well with grilled chicken, sausages, or fish of any sort. Chilled leftovers are tasty in a salad, if you can get your hands on them - on the extremely rare occasion we have leftovers, one of my kids usually eats them as an after school snack. I kid you not.

The first time I made these, R was still deployed. My kids ate them with relish you just can't imagine. Rome asked me if I'd teach his wife how to make these one day. After I pulled my inner feminist up off the floor and let her have a moment to discuss gender roles, equality, and the division of household labor, I told him I'd teach HIM how to make them himself. I guess his eyes glazed over during that part, because he replied by asking if maybe I could just send him some of these Brussels sprouts on his honeymoon.

My future daughter-in-law is going to hate me.

Without further ado, the Brussels sprouts that will cause my son's first big fight with his wife.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar

2 lbs small Brussels sprouts, halved (or quartered if they're larger than a big marble)
1 or 2 red onions, cut into 1 inch chunks
about 2 TBS olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced very finely or smashed to a paste
balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 425 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and place in the hot oven while you prepare the Brussels sprouts, so it gets nice and hot.

In a large bowl, combine Brussels sprouts and onions. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I find it's easiest to get the sprouts evenly coated when I do this with my hands.

Remove hot pan from the oven, spray with nonstick cooking spray, and pour seasoned Brussels sprouts onto it. Shake the pan a bit to make sure they're evenly distributed and as much surface area as possible of the sprouts is touching the pan (that's where that caramelizing magic happens). Return to the oven and roast for about 15 minutes, stirring once about halfway through, until sprouts are deeply browned and tender. Timing will depend a lot on how big your Brussels sprouts are, so keep an eye on them.

In the meantime, add your minced garlic to the bowl you tossed the sprouts in, and add another teaspoon or so of olive oil. Mix with the backside of a large spatula to make a paste. Set aside.

When Brussels sprouts are good and done, remove pan from the oven. Transfer sprouts back to the bowl with the garlic, and toss to coat. Return them to the pan, and continue to roast for 3 to 4 minutes, until garlic is fragrant (but not smelling burned).

Remove from the oven, and drizzle generously with balsamic vinegar (lemon juice would be a nice alternative here, too). Let them cool for a couple of minutes (this is usually the time it takes me to get my kids to the table, and send one or more of them back to the sink to wash their hands "again"), and serve. 


Sarah said...

mmm. I'll have to try this. I like roasted brussel sprouts, but haven't tried them with onion and garlic. I usually just do olive oil, salt and pepper. My kids can't stand them- maybe adding a bit more flavor will change that?

Kendra said...

I'm catching up on reading blogs I follow, and I am so happy you are back! I laughed out loud numerous times with this one...and I can't wait to try this recipe! Happy Friday!

Rose Steinke @ Split-Site PhD Programs said...

I did not know that about the name. Now it makes so much more sense. They can be so delicious if they are cooked right but all it takes is one bad sprout to ruin them all for everyone. Thank you for including your recipes. I will have to try them out.

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