Wednesday, October 14, 2009

roasted baby brussels sprouts with lemon and almonds

roasted baby brussels sprouts with lemon, garlic and almonds
i guess i can say that growing up,
my sisters and i were pretty lucky
when it came to vegetables.

none of us were especially picky
eaters. sure, one of us went through
a stage where nothing leafy and green
(read: parsley) could be on her food,
and for one, my mom had to lie and
say we were not eating brown rice
with dinner, but 'special rice' and maybe,
one of us decided for no real reason
to give up meat, chicken and turkey
at the age of twelve. and, yes, none
of us enjoyed indian food. but still,
we were relatively agreeable for kids,
not only willing, but excited to eat
calamari, lobster, clams and mussels,
avocados and pine nuts,
gefilte fish, chopped liver and lox.

maybe it was because we were
generally so willing to try things -
when it came to vegetables,
my mom let us be.
they were always on the table,
always offered to us,
and sometimes heavily encouraged,
but never insisted upon.

i remember eating dinner
at friend's houses, and later, babysitting,
for people, who would not let
their children leave the table until
every piece of
was consumed.
and i always felt for them.

i think my mom
(who please understand, still
had her demands, like making
us drink a glass of milk
with. every. single. meal.
regardless of whether it was
peanut butter & jelly or chicken or pizza
and instated a one-sweet-a-week rule)
wanted us to come to the vegetables
on our own, learn to love them
as she did, instead of looking
at them as something negative.

and we did.
it would be impossible
to enjoy
or appreciate

and, fortunately, in finding
my inner vegetable lover,
i found brussels sprouts.
it is an old story that
boiled sprouts gave these
green rounds their bad name,
but i'd rather focus on the already
old-news new story:
when roasted, sauteed, blanched,
slivered, separated and shaved
they are amazing.

my favorite way is,
of course roasted:
halved and tossed with
olive oil, then cooked at
a high heat until they
are browned
and slightly crisp
and almost sweet.
baby brussels sprouts bundle
when i found baby brussels sprouts
on sunday, so tiny that they
looked too cute not to buy
(yes, i am a sucker),
i brought them home.
this was not the time to thinly slice,
or pull apart into tiny leaves.
instead, i wanted to keep them whole,
roast them and enjoy them like popcorn
(on the side of a sensible meal, of course).
tiny brussels sprouts
once trimmed
(which oh goodness, reminds me:
there are a ton of brussels sprouts
in a 1 pound bag of minis -
this took a while),
tossed with olive oil
and sprinkled with salt,
i got to work toasting almonds
and garlic together, zesting
and juicing a lemon and waiting.
slivered almonds, toasting
i didn't have to wait long.
they were browned and sizzling
in 12 minutes. as soon as they came
out of the oven, i emptied the pan
into a bowl with everything else,
shook until it was combined
and, well, that was it.
this recipe is not winning
an award for longest,
trickiest or
most ingredients.

because they cook so fast
and are so small,
you're able to get a relatively
well-rounded brown,
which is great for me -
i like my veggies ultra dark.
extra caramelization =
extra delicious.
and that's what these were,
tiny temptations so good,
i think any kid would have
trouble resisting them.
bowl of brussels sprouts
roasted baby brussels sprouts with lemon and almonds
if these were missing anything, i think it may have been a sprinkling of grated parm, but we were eating them as a side dish for fish. next time, i would add the cheese. normally i'm pretty strict about my mise en place, but this was so no-frill that i was able to stick the brussels sprouts in the oven and have everything ready to toss by the time they came out. and, i know that it's odd to cook the garlic in a dry pan - i was actually skeptical when i decided to do it - but the process worked. they didn't get brown, they just softened enough to lose their strong bite and they cooked a bit more when tossed with the steaming hot sprouts.

1 pound baby brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lemon, zested and halved

heat oven to 400˚f. place brussels sprouts on rimmed aluminum foil-lined baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil. sprinkle generously with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. bake 12 minutes, or until spotted with golden deep brown spots, shaking pan twice during cooking to rotate vegetables.

meanwhile, place almonds in small skillet. toast over medium-low heat until just starting to color. add garlic slivers and cook 1 or 2 minutes more, or until garlic is no longer raw and almonds are nicely browned, but not burnt.
place vegetables in bowl; add garlic-almond mixture. squeeze 1/2 lemon over brussels sprouts, catching seeds. add 1 teaspoon lemon zest. toss to combine. season with kosher salt and pepper. transfer to serving bowl. top with strips of lemon peel, if desired.

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