Roasted Brussels Sprouts
The holidays are over, and for many of us, this means a return to healthy eating (just let me finish this tray of cookies and chocolate-covered peanut butter Christmas tree). One of my favorite ways to get back on a healthy track in January is to return to a roasting routine. Roasted winter vegetables like carrots, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and my current favorite, roasted Brussels sprouts, make great flavor companions and can be dressed in an infinite number of ways to complement one another or the main course of the meal.
While maple or mustard are popular ingredients to enhance the sprouts’ flavor, I sometimes like to keep it simple and just whisk together a mix of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a generous pinch of my favorite brand of “everything” seasoning. When roasting vegetables, uniformity in size is key. I look for sprouts that are all roughly the same size, ensuring they will cook at the same rate and be done around the same time. While Brussels sprouts (essentially “little cabbages”) have a strong raw flavor, roasted Brussels sprouts release a hidden nutty flavor, and the result is fantastic.
After removing the stem of each sprout and slicing the sprout in half, the outer leaves are prone to falling off like late-summer rose petals. Some people love the way the delicate curls char in the oven, but I make a valiant effort to keep the charred leaves to a minimum by arranging the sprouts (cut-side down) onto a lightly oiled and lined baking sheet before gently basting them with my marinade with a silicone pastry brush. If you’re a fan of the charred leaves, toss the sprouts in the marinade in a bowl and encourage more of them to wiggle loose during the toss process.
Once the sprouts are covered, roast them in a hot oven until they’re fork-tender. Feel free to toss them a few times to help them roast evenly, then serve hot (FYI – a little Parmesan cheese is also a wonderful thing on roasted Brussels sprouts, as are a handful of dried cranberries). Here I served them alongside a filet of crumb-topped baked fish, brown rice, and a few lemon slices to boost the lemon flavor in the sprouts and complement the fish. The perfect healthy, flavorful winter supper after a few months of gravy and pie fueled excess!