Today we are going to discuss a much-maligned vegetable, the Brussels sprout. Poor Brussels has quite a bad rap, and is hated by millions the world over. See, Brussels suffers from a syndrome called “being over-cooked”, a terrible, terrible malady. It is a descendent of wild cabbage, and like most other cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc.), overcooking breaks down a compound that then releases a sulphurous odor. And yes, by sulphurous, I do mean that it smells like someone has a bad case of intestinal upset. What’s a poor overcooked vegetable to do? I must have had someone in my childhood who knew how to cook Brussels sprouts because I’ve always liked them. I’ve had some not so good ones, but knew an overcooked version when I saw it. My husband, on the other hand, shudders at the very thought and has all but banned them from our kitchen.
But I was invited to join a virtual Holiday Brunch Potluck organized by Julie, of The Little Kitchen, the idea being that we all post a different dishes and link them in together, as if we were attending a real potluck. I signed on a bit late and was assigned to the side dishes. This blog is focused primarily on the sweets and treats, but I do make my share of delicious sides and I took this on as a great challenge. And to add to the challenge, I thought I might whip up a batch of Brussels sprouts and see if I could get my husband to change his mind. I was put in mind of a Brussels sprouts dish that my father’s wife had made on a family vacation, which included hazelnuts. My husband never got a chance to try them, as he was laid low with a nasty virus and spent the last day of our vacation in bed. But I remembered them as quite good, enough so that I had two helpings. And definitely a worthy and healthy side dish for Holiday Brunch Potluck.
I also happened to have recently picked up a bottle of roasted hazelnut oil and was casting around for ways to use it. Specialty oils like this are a relatively new love of mine and I’ve discovered a good, inexpensive source for them at TJ Maxx/Homegoods. I always keep a large bottle of walnut oil at the ready, and I’ve eyed the hazelnut oil a number of times. When I happened to see a bottle on clearance, I grabbed it. And it just seemed tailor-made for using with Brussels sprouts, the rich flavour of the oil adding a depth to the slight nuttiness of the vegetable. I found an excellent recipe for Brussels in Cook’s Illustrated, which uses a bit of water in a tightly covered pan to steam the sprouts a touch and make them more tender before going on to roast them. So I followed that method for the most part, adapting it to add the hazelnut oil, some garlic and some roasted hazelnuts.
The Results: If success here is to be measured by getting a self-declared Brussels hater to enjoy them, then I am ready to declare victory. Because my husband ate them and enjoyed them, and I am now officially granted permission to make Brussels sprouts whenever I so choose. That said, he didn’t go back for more than one helping. But I did. They were mine, all MINE and I happily ate them several days in a row. Interestingly, I almost liked them better on the second and third day when re-heated gently. I think the flavours had a chance to meld and develop a bit more. It’s such a simple side-dish, and certainly healthy and flavourful. If you have Brussels sprouts haters in your life that you want to win over to the dark side, I’d definitely give this recipe a second glance.
Make sure you check out all the other great participants in our Virtual Holiday Brunch Potluck below. From cocktails to dessert, this is a fantastic collection of holiday recipes that you won’t want to miss!
Hazelnut Roasted Brussels Sprouts
2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
¼ cup roasted hazelnut oil
1 tablespoon hot water
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 500F.
In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts, oil, water, garlic, salt and pepper until sprouts are well coated. Transfer to a 9×13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 10 minutes. Then remove foil and continue to roast until lightly browned and tender, about 12 more minutes.
Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with chopped toasted hazelnuts and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 8 to 10. For 8 servings, each serving has a total of 9.8 g of carbs 4.1 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 5.7 g.
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