The first time I ever tried brussels sprouts, I was in Germany. I was there for a conference for work, we were in Frankfurt, and one night a whole group of us went to a dark little German restaurant full of hearty German fare like bratwurst and sauerkraut and mustard and potatoes. And apparently, brussels sprouts!
I love Germany.
Anyway. I did not order brussels sprouts, as my only real knowledge of the little cabbages was that they were widely touted as being gross and disgusting. They ranked right up there with lima beans and turnips. (Considering I actually like lima beans and turnips, you would think I would have seen the writing on the wall…)
So, where was I? Oh, right. I didn’t order the brussels sprouts, but a colleague of mine did, and I have to admit they looked pretty bad. For starters, they were boiled– and I’m pretty positive that the only “seasoning” they had was the salt and pepper that my colleague added before he dug in.
They did not look like these brussels sprouts. At all.
But because I love food, and I was curious, I asked if could try his boiled, unseasoned brussels sprouts. And not surprisingly, I didn’t find them half bad! True, they were slightly mushy from being boiled and granted, I would have put a lot more seasonings on them – even back then, before I started really paying attention in the kitchen – but I didn’t hate them!
But I also never made them for myself…at least not for several years.
The next time I finally had brussels sprouts, it was almost five years later – and The Man made them. And we roasted them in the oven and added some paprika. And diced bacon.
Now, I’m not even a huge fan of bacon (don’t judge), but the salty bacon mixed with the crispy roasted brussels sprouts kissed with a touch of salt and pepper and paprika?
There are no words.
I’ve made these suckers on a regular basis since – and when I say regular, we’re talking almost weekly. Sometimes I use the bacon, other times I’ve left them plain. More recently, however, I took it up a notch and added lemon zest. And chili powder.
I know, right?
By the way…is it weird that I’m this passionate about brussels sprouts?
Seriously, though. If you’ve never tried brussels sprouts…or even if you have and have hated them because they were soggy and mushy…try this. They just might change your whole outlook on life.
Or at least, your whole outlook on brussels sprouts.
WHAT YOU NEED: (serves four)
1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4-5 strips raw bacon, diced
salt and pepper and chili powder to taste
juice and zest of one lemon
WHAT TO DO:
Preheat oven to 400.
In a bowl, toss the brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper, chili powder, and lemon zest. Spread sprouts evenly on a baking sheet and sprinkle with bacon, ensuring the bacon is evenly distributed around the sprouts. Sprinkle with lemon juice and bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
They taste even better with crab cakes. Just sayin’….