I can practically hear you screaming now. “NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Mommmmmmm!!!!! No brussels sprouts! No, no, NOOOOOO!!!!!”
Well, save me the drama. Sure, they’re good for you. Cry me a river. The fact of the matter is, brussels sprouts are good. No, better than good – they’re delicious. Of course, I think all vegetables are delicious (except okra… I’ve tried, but I can’t, I just can’t). But brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables. Carrots? Yes, please. Squash? Mmmm, indeed I will. Broccoli? Load ’em up. Brussels sprouts? GIMME! Because I love brussels sprouts so much, I have taken it upon myself to change people’s minds about them. It’s my mission in life. Because most people, ya know, HATE them. They are the butt of every Thanksgiving joke. They’ve even made an appearance on “Friends” as “Monica’s stinky brussels sprouts.” Well, I’m sick of it. Enough with the smelly gym socks references! Brussels sprouts don’t deserve the reputation they seem to have acquired. So I’m here to make the case for brussels sprouts, and this is it: Roast them. Roast them now. If you are one of the multitudes who hate brussels sprouts, it’s because you haven’t had them like this. So go roast them, then eat them, then apologize to all brussels sprouts you have scorned over the years. Your Honor, the defense rests.
Okay, I’m being a little bit quippy here, but it’s true: there are ways to screw up brussels sprouts. In fact, it’s pretty easy to screw them up, and when you do, they’re the definition of gross. For instance, boiling brussels sprouts, to put it mildly, does not show these vegetables off to their best advantage. They are actually very versatile and tasty, but people insist on boiling them. Don’t! Put the saucepan down and back away from the stove! Roast them like this, or shred and saute them with a tiny bit of creme fraiche and bacon, or steam them and dress them with a tart vinaigrette. But don’t boil them. (And if you disregard this advice, don’t come crying to me about gym socks, ‘cuz I don’t want to hear it.) Brussels sprouts are wonderful many ways, it’s true, but I think they’re at their best when roasted. The outer leaves caramelize and become crispy and salty and savory, and the inside leaves take on the wonderful, nutty character that you will NEVER achieve by boiling. And then when you hit them with some lemon juice and zest, man, oh man, they are amazing. Brussels sprouts will change your life.
Citrus Roasted Brussels Sprouts
2 cups brussels sprouts, stems trimmed, outer leaves removed
1 lemon, zested and zest reserved
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fresh black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Clean and trim brussels sprouts: slice off the bottom of the sprout (the woody, tough part) and remove any outer leaves that have become tough and/or yellow and/or wilted. Cut sprouts in half and rinse under running water.
- Place brussels sprouts halves in a large bowl and dress with olive oil and a generous seasoning of kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper. Zest a lemon, reserving half of the zest. Add the remaining half of the zest to the brussels sprouts mixture. Roll the lemon to distribute the juices, then slice in half. Squeeze the juice of half the lemon over the sprouts, reserving the second half for later.
- Roast for 45-50 minutes, tossing once or twice. Remove from oven and transfer to serving bowl. Squeeze the second lemon half over the sprouts, and sprinkle the remaining zest over the top.
- Change minds, change lives.
Source: Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
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