Falling in love with Brussels sprouts seems a lengthy task for some. Many have traumatizing experiences from the past, where the poor sprouts have been cooked beyond recognition and turned into a cabbage-y flavored mush. Others have never dared trying them. Some can’t get past the bitter flavor (and that’s fair – we can’t all love the same thing). But trust me when I say – the day we have a kid (!), I’ll do my very best to put him/her in Brussels sprouts training right away. We LOVE Brussels sprouts. They’re so versatile, almost comically nutritious and available locally grown here in the north. We didn’t attempt growing our own this season, but it’s on our list for next year.
This dish would be a great one to try for the sprouts novice and veteran alike – besides the fact that it comes together fast (which is a huge bonus in the Christmas frenzy, wouldn’t you say?), it has a ‘gentle’ flavor profile. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the other flavors mask the Brussels sprouts (because that wouldn’t be fair), but they do bring in a touch more nuance. The sweet, slightly caramelized note you get from that addition of honey or syrup is glorious – it works so well with the intensity of ginger and cayenne! Add to that some crunchy hazelnuts… and you have an excellent side dish for any Christmas spread. You can choose another type of nut if you don’t have hazelnuts on hand, but we definitely prefer them for this application. We’ll be bringing this dish to the potluck we’re going to on Christmas Eve – and the big question will be if we can charm our nephews at two and four years old.
Anyway – hope you’re enjoying December so far. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the musts that holidays bring and it’s such a cliché to come say that what matters is that you’re together… but it’s a cliché for a reason – it’s true. Who decides what’s perfect anyway? Our focus this time of year is to just enjoy ourselves. And not enjoying ourselves based on what society claims as true or what others do, but what we enjoy. Mulled wine in front of a crackling fire, for example. Food that we actually like to eat, and will be able to finish before it goes bad. And anything saffron flavored. And ginger snaps. That’s worth focusing on. Love to you all, and let us know if you end up trying these sprouts out!
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Serves 8 as a side dish
1 kg Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 tsp dried ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper
55 g (1 dl) toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- Set oven to 250ºC. Toss the sprouts with olive oil and salt and place on an oven sheet. Roast in the middle of the oven for 10 min.
- In the meantime, whisk together honey (if not runny already, carefully melt it), ginger and cayenne.
- Drizzle the honey-mixture over the sprouts and toss to coat. Put back in the oven and roast for another 5 min.
- Place the Brussels sprouts in a bowl and sprinkle with the hazelnuts. Serve warm.