Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Something must be wrong with me.  Every night all I want to do it make and eat chocolate and brownies!  I must have been bitten by the chocolate bug while I was sleeping - it is the only logical explanation.  Hopefully I will eventually develop some super human skills - at least I better, because as of this very moment the only thing I have gained from the bite is 5 pounds.  DARN YOU brownie bug!

I have 2 recipes up and ready to post - molten lava cookies, and gooey chocolate caramel cake - I have decided to spare you from posting 4 chocolate recipes in a row and instead post a recipe for something nice and healthy to counter act these evil sugar filled recipes.

I bring you Brussels sprouts...on a platter...coated in balsamic syrupy goodness...full of flavor...and absolutely divine!

My family LOVES Brussels sprouts!  We devour them so quickly it is crazy.  I basically love them cooked in any way - they are that amazingly delicious.  Roasted is of course my preferred method, but sometimes when I just need a quick Brussels sprout fix I toss them in boiling water for a few minutes.  More recently we have become obsessed with Brussels sprouts and they are found listed on every single grocery list just like milk and eggs - they are that essential!

I know this might sound weird and flavor clashing - but I really love eating Brussels sprouts with spicy hummus.  It makes the perfect light dinner on a week night, or a great Lenten meal - you should try it - you won't regret it!

I haven't done a "random facts" piece in a while so...here are the top 7 things you should know about Brussels Sprouts:

1)  As weird as it sounds and looks it really is "Brussels" and not "Brussel" like I thought.  Although it is unclear many speculate that this illusive vegetable originated in Brussels, Belgium.

2)  Have you ever seen Brussels sprouts growing?  It is pretty cool looking.  They grow on these tall thick stalks, in these fun little cluster patterns.  We used to go grocery shopping at this one store for the sole purpose that they sold Brussels sprouts still on the stalk - so cool.

3)  They belong in the Cruciferous family along with the obvious relative cabbage, and the not so obvious kale, collard greens, and broccoli.  All lovely shades of green!  Kale really is pretty - if I get married I want to include it in my bouquet : ) Haha - it would be awesome.

4)   Rumor has it that Thomas Jefferson was a huge fan of Brussels sprouts and grew them at his plantation, Monticello.

5)  Most of the Brussels sprouts consumed in the US are grown in California.

6)  Boiling them is the easiest way to cook them but they do lose some of their nutritional value when you cook them that way.  The best way to cook them is to stir fry, roast, or steam them.

7)  Although they are typically available year round their peak season is September-mid February.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels sprouts
adapted from Ina Garten
1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core
1/8 cup good olive oil
1/2 tsp Kosher or sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar*
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, including some of the loose leaves, which get crispy when they’re roasted. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper and toss with your hands. Spread out the mixture in a single layer.
Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re tender and nicely browned.  Toss once during roasting. Remove from the oven, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar, and toss again. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.
*If you want thick syrupy balsamic vinegar - boil your vinegar until it is reduced by half -so if you boil 1/2 cup - boil it until it is only 1/4 cup.  This really increases the flavor and makes it taste even better!
If you want to make these sprouts less healthy you can also toss them with pancetta or bacon before roasting...so for this recipe I sometimes use 3 slices of chopped up bacon - so delicious!