I had no idea until a few years ago that people put bacon in Brussels sprouts. Most of the time, the way we eat them is the way my Aunt Bev makes them on Thanksgiving: sautéed with leeks. Sometimes I roast them after a toss in maple syrup. Last year, during the final stretch of my pregnancy, Rich and I went on a date and I had a great Brussels sprouts salad, which I talked about for months afterwards.
I actually had to stop talking about the salad, and Brussels sprouts altogether, because during Sylvie’s pregnancy she developed an aversion to them, sort of like a pregnancy craving in reverse. She would basically dry heave at the mere thought of a Brussels sprout. Months after she had Leo, when someone mentioned the two worded vegetable, she had to excuse herself from the kitchen. But last week, after my friend Gayle shared an article with a bunch of really tasty-sounding Brussels sprouts recipes, I felt compelled to test the waters again with Sylvie. Fortunately, she assured me she was back in love with the vegetable.
That’s a relief, because I had a pound of them in the fridge that Rich found on sale, and I had set my sights on a recipe – Brussels sprouts with shaved parmesan and sherry vinaigrette – from The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli. When I told Sylvie about it, she oohed into the phone. I promised I’d get up the recipe shortly.
Sylvie’s reaction to the recipe was basically a miniature version of how I’ve been with nearly every recipe in this book. Beet, pickled onion and hazelnut vinaigrette? Tell me more. Black kale, shiitake and kumquat vinaigrette? Grab a seat. Farro, spaghetti squash and pomegranate vinaigrette? Oh? Honestly, I found myself bookmarking meat recipes because they sounded so amazing. Apparently LEMONADE is a cafeteria that specializes in Southern California comfort food that now has multiple locations, from Venice Beach to Downtown L.A. And yes, there are also actual lemonade recipes, including ones like pear basil and watermelon rosemary. I’m definitely going to be making that last one this summer, once all the snow has melted off our rosemary bush out front.
This recipe takes a little bit of time, if only because Brussels sprouts themselves take a little time to prep. After the prep, you blanche them for two minutes in salty, boiling water, toss them in a little sherry vinaigrette (which you’ll have wisely made before the blanche), and then you roast them in a hot oven. (Hotter, we’ve decided, than the 350 degrees the original recipe calls for.) Once they are room temperature, you toss them with the rest of the dressing and some shaved parmesan. When I told Rich about the blanche-and-toss-while-hot instruction, he reminded me that we’d heard Yotam Ottolenghi on America’s Test Kitchen radio show last month, who said he does the same with his vegetables.
So save your bacon for another time, and go make these Brussels sprouts.
Brussels Sprouts, Shaved Parmesan, Sherry Vinaigrette from The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli
1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, yellow outer leaves discarded
1 cup sherry vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Coarse salt (I used kosher)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
Halve the Brussels sprouts lengthwise and add them to the boiling water. Par-cook for 2 minutes until softened slightly. Drain the sprouts in a colander and transfer to a mixing bowl.
While the sprouts are still warm, toss with ¼ cup of the vinaigrette to coat. Because the sprouts are still warm, they really absorb the vinaigrette and soak up the flavor.
Transfer the sprouts to large baking pan lined with parchment or foil and spread them out into a single layer. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 25 minutes, until slightly charred on the outside and tender on the inside; shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.
Put the sprouts into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. The Brussels sprouts can be easily prepared in advance, covered and refrigerated.
To the cooled Brussels sprouts, add the remaining ¾ cup of vinaigrette, cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
Makes 4 cups.
1 small shallot, minced
2 Tablespoons honey or agave nectar
3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground ppper
In a small mixing bowl or mason jar, combine the shallot, honey, vinegars, and oils; season with salt and pepper. Whisk or shake to blend. Keep any leftover vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Makes 1 cup.