I used to hate Brussels sprouts.
I mean, haaaaaaate, you know. They looked like little cabbages (mainly because they are), and when I was seven, cabbage was the noxious side dish of the devil. I have friends well into their adulthood who still feel the same way (and you know who you are). But for me, one day? Wham! It was like someone flipped a switch, and I loved them with an unrepentant fervor that continues to this day. I can’t explain it. It’s just what happened.
So imagine my delight one day at the Wednesday market (Lewisburgians, represent) when I encountered a bag of Brussels sprouts roughly the size of a tricycle. For $4. Must have must own must have must own.
Must roast. With soy sauce and pungent, nutty caraway seeds. Yes, way.
Many, many times in the (relatively recent) past I’ve discussed the benefits of roasting vegetables. It deepens their flavors. It brings out their inherent sweetness. It makes them nutty. And it’s easy to keep an eye on roasting sprouts and not let them overcook, since overcooking to mushiness is the enemy of joyful sprout eating. That’s when sprouts get that nasty, bitter, cabbage smell. Can roasting be any more awesome? I think not, friends. I think not. The great thing about a recipe like this is that it’s totally easy-peasy and dictated by your tastes, so once you learn how to roast Brussels sprouts you can substitute a world of flavors, like garlic or ginger or orange zest. Just keep the soy sauce. I’d say that’s mandatory. Here’s what you need:
- About a pound of Brussels sprouts (yes, we bought a giant bag, but we cooked them in batches)
- A teaspoon of soy sauce and/or to taste
- Fresh-ground pepper to taste
- About a palmful (maybe a tablespoon) of caraway seeds
- Oil for coating and roasting
Preheat your oven to 400°F.
Clean and trim your sprouts. Strip off the gnarly outer leaves, cut off the hard end sticking out of the core, and cut the sprouts in half. Toss with oil, soy sauce, and pepper. Since soy sauce is inherently salty, you really don’t need actual salt-salt, unless you have no blood pressure and need something to keep the blood pumping through your veins.
And then? Into the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
Let that start cooking along in your nice, hot oven, and after about twenty minutes pull the sprouts, give them a stir and then toss them with caraway seeds. How much should you use?
It was about a tablespoon’s worth of seeds; I know that may be difficult to judge considering I have delicate, petite lady-hands.
Actually, I don’t. Look at those things! They’re built to dig potatoes out of the ground. But I digress, and it’s about a tablespoon’s worth of caraway. Sprinkle the seeds on the Brussels sprouts, give it all a stir and toss ‘em back in the oven.
Notice how they’re already picking up a nice char from the higher heat? Roasting at 350° provides a nice, even roast, but once you start to crank it up it does super-fun crispy charred things to your veggies, which you want even if you don’t know it yet. I’m here to help you, people. You have to trust.
Twenty-ish minutes later, your sprouts will be done to crispy, cooked-through-but-not-overcooked awesomeness.
The soy sauce provides a deep sort of umami flavor that we generally associate with greens and get from sources like bacon, so this dish is a succulent green that is totally vegan, and you can make this as a side dish for just about anything. Don’t worry, the soy won’t relegate the sprouts to Asian cuisine any more than adding garlic would make it strictly Italian. It just makes them deeply savory and delicious.
Did I mention this dish was easy?
Did I mention that I served the sprouts with butternut squash risotto?
Nutritionists say you should eat the rainbow to get a full complement of nutrients. A meal like this? Is a great way to start.
How do you like your Brussels sprouts? (And Shelby, saying “on fire in a corner while I eat chocolate” is not an appropriate answer.)