There seems to be two main camps when it comes to Brussels sprouts: they either love them or they hate them. Brussels sprouts are just one of those vegetables that rarely seem to find that middle ground of enjoyment, as can also be true with many of its other close relatives that includes kale, broccoli, and cabbage. Admittedly, I used to be one of those in the dislike category, but have since come full circle and now find myself roasting them at least a couple of times a week while in season.
Thriving in the cooler times of year locally, Brussels sprouts always arrive just before the Thanksgiving holiday, which is a must have item on my holiday spread. They pair quite nicely with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and all of the other key Thanksgiving staples. When preparing, I start by cleaning them up a bit, giving the base a small trim and removing just a couple of layers of outer leaves. Then I float the sprouts in a bowl of cold water to remove any dust from the farmers fields, and possibly a few harmless aphids that are attracted to members of this vegetable family often found when purchasing pesticide free Brussels sprouts. Out of the water and onto a kitchen towel to dry, then tossed in olive oil, seasoned and into the oven they go. Roasted to perfection in about 45 minutes, this simple cooking method delivers a wonderful crispy outer surface, tender center, and subtle sweetness that will keep one coming back for more.
Brussels sprouts can be roasted together with other seasonal favorites, such as sweet potato, cauliflower, beets, carrots, baby potatoes and turnips, or enjoyed all by themselves. This week, I gently tossed my roasted Brussels sprouts with crumbled bacon, sautéed onions, and chevre. Finished with a light garnish of cilantro leaves, this side is perfect for the season.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sautéed Onion and Chevre
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
Salt and pepper
5 strips bacon
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced thin
3 ounces chevre
½ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Option; drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar and/or olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Trim the base ends of your Brussels sprouts and remove a couple layers of outer leaves. Rinse, dry, and put in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer in a roasting dish and cook for about 40 minutes. When done, they should be crispy with a slight char on the outer surface and fork tender through the center. While the Brussels sprouts are cooking, cook bacon strips until crisp and break into bite sized pieces. In the same pan, after removing some of the excess bacon grease with a paper towel, sauté onion for about 5 minutes at high heat, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Toss bacon and onion with roasted brussels sprouts, then put in a serving bowl and top with chevre, then toss gently. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and, if desired, drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Yield: Serves 6 sides.