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Simple Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are complicated. They’re both hip and hated. They can be sublime or inedible. You’ll find their sweet nature on the menu of the latest gastropub, or piled high in a stinky mess at the worst of the the mass market buffets. This unfortunate dichotomy has left them with a bit of an identity crisis. This is not their fault. But it can leave the home cook scratching his or her head wondering what the secret is to Brussels sprouts.

It’s true many people are afraid of Brussels sprouts, horrified even. Because they are often prepared in a horrifying manner– over-boiled. Boiling for long lengths of time really does not suit Brussels sprouts. That is because they’re technically a cruciferous vegetable. Which is a fancy way of saying cabbage. As we all know, boiled cabbage can be stinky and mushy. So too, Brussels sprouts. In fact, in French they are called les choux de Bruxelles, which means cabbages of Brussels. So all the mistakes people make cooking cabbage can be amplified in these little cabbages.

Cruciferous vegetables get their name because their flowers have 4 petals and look like a cross (crucifix). Other cruciferous vegetables include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnip greens, and watercress. Now doesn’t this list look a lot like the list your doctor uses when he/she says you should eat more dark, leafy greens?

Well listen to your doctor because cruciferous veggies all contain phytochemicals — vitamins and minerals, and lots of healthy fiber which some studies suggest lower your risk of cancer.

Unfortunately, these phytochemicals break down somewhat in cooking. This lessens their health benefits, and can also release a vile sulphery smell. Many people can’t get past the smell.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There are lots of great ways to cook Brussels sprouts. One of the simplest is also one of the tastiest. I like to toss them with a little olive oil, coarse salt and cracked black pepper. I then roast them in a 400-degree oven til they get browned and crackly. A hot oven ensures you’ll get good caramelization on the outside without cooking the insides to a smelly pulp. GREG

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts with Shaved Parmesan

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4–6Published
Brussels sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1 small shallot (minced)
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for boiling and seasoning)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (plus more for seasoning)
  • 1 ½ pound Brussels sprouts (ends trimmed, tough or discolored outer leaves discarded)
  • 2 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl combine shallot, honey, both vinegars and olive oil; season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Whisk to blend. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water. Halve the Brussles sprouts through the stem end; add them to the boiling water. Cook them 1 to 2 minutes until slightly softened. Drain the sprouts and transfer them to a mixing bowl.

While still warm, toss the sprouts with about ¼‑cup of the well-mixed vinaigrette. Then transfer them to a large baking pan; spreading them out into a single layer. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the sprouts for 15 or 20 minutes, until they are beginning to char on the edges.

If serving warm: Place the sprouts into a serving bowl and toss with shaved Parmesan and a tablespoon butter.

If serving at room temperature: Allow the sprouts to come to room temperature. They may be prepared in advance to this point and kept covered and refrigerated. In which case bring them back to room temperature just before serving and toss them with Parmesan and an additional ½‑cup vinaigrette.