I was one of those goody two-shoes children who didn’t put up much of a fuss when it came to eating my vegetables. Except when it came to Brussels sprouts. The Brussels sprouts consumed in my household were normally of the frozen Green Giant variety and oh did I hate them. If they were covered in cheese sauce my hatred was milder but it was hatred nonetheless. Needless to say, I’ve done essentially no Brussels sprout eating since my parents gave up on serving them and resorted back to the more kid friendly carrots and broccoli.
Brussels sprouts are now in season though and happen to be popping up at every farmers’ market stand. While making a list of produce to purchase at the farmers’ market, my mind wandered to the mounds of Brussels sprouts I’d been walking by for the past several weeks. I decided that there must be some good way to prepare them. Logic requires it. Why would people buy Brussels sprouts if they were the bitter, kind of mushy vegetables I remember from my childhood? Not one to back down from a challenge, even if it is one that just exists in my own head, I bought a pound of Brussels sprouts last weekend determined to find a Brussels sprouts recipe I liked. Maybe even loved. And I did.
These golden crusted Brussels sprouts – with the perfect amount of crunch and the equally perfect touch of salt, pepper, and cheese – has the potential to turn even the most stubborn Brussels sprout hater around. And here is my proof:
Roommate #1 (walking in to the kitchen): “What are those? Brussels sprouts?”
Roommate #1: “My mom made Brussels sprouts once. None of us like them so she never tried them again.”
Me: “Try one.”
Roommate #1: “Jess! These are good.”
(About 30 seconds later.)
Roommate #2 (walking in to the kitchen): “Did you make Brussels sprouts?”
Me: “Yeah. Do you want one?”
Roommate #2: “I don’t like Brussels sprouts but thanks.”
Me: “Try one. These are better.”
Roommate #2 (after eating the Brussels sprout): “I’d eat Brussels sprouts if they all tasted like this!”
Case in point.
Serves 4 as a side
24 small brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated cheese of your choice (I recommend Parmesan or Gruyere!)
Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stem ends and remove any raggy outer leaves. Cut in half from stem to top and gently rub each half with olive oil, keeping it intact (or if you are lazy just toss them in a bowl with a glug of olive oil).
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Don’t overheat the skillet, or the outsides of the brussels sprouts will cook too quickly. Place the brussels sprouts in the pan flat side down (single-layer), sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, cover, and cook for roughly 5 minutes; the bottoms of the sprouts should only show a hint of browning. Cut into or taste one of the sprouts to gauge whether they’re tender throughout. If not, cover and cook for a few more minutes.
Once just tender, uncover, turn up the heat, and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized. Use a metal spatula to toss them once or twice to get some browning on the rounded side. Season with more salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a dusting of grated cheese. While you might be able to get away with keeping a platter of these warm in the oven for a few minutes, they are exponentially tastier if popped in your mouth immediately.