Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Sea Salt

by Anne Bennett on December 21, 2010

It’s Christmas week and cookies are making the rounds everywhere. I’m not actually making any, but I certainly have seen and sampled my share. I love Italian fig cookies. Great with a cup of strong coffee. Italian cook Mary makes them every year and brings them to my Weight Watchers meeting in a plain brown bag. Feels somehow illicit!

In our family, this is also the time of year when our hesitation to eat well-marbled MEAT takes a pass. I just ordered a standing prime rib roast, per daughter Lizzie’s request. I’ve never cooked a rib roast, having always opted for leaner cuts. But it is Christmas, Lizzie reminds me, and moderation be damned.

However, there are ways to lessen the damage, when you consider all the lovely vegetables that are in season this time of year. Brussels sprouts have appeared in supermarkets attached to their stalks, and I’m roasting them along with the MEAT.

It’s important to not overcook Brussels sprouts, because overcooking releases a chemical called sinigrin, which causes a sulfurous odor that is very unpleasant and the cause, no doubt, of Brussels sprouts being way down on the vegetable popularity list. The same goes for cabbage, its botanical cousin.

In the past I’ve steamed and boiled Brussels sprouts, but I am now a roasting fan because cooking them without water makes it that much more difficult to overcook them.

This is a really easy recipe: Heat oven to 400 degrees.

If you buy sprouts on their stalk, cut them off and trim off any tough or yellowed outer leaves. Cut larger sprouts in half, place in a large bowl and toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt (or Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, available at Penzey’s Spices) and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice during cooking, until browned on all sides.

Ina Garten suggests sprinkling them generously with sea salt, almost like they’re french fries (fat chance they’ll remind anyone of french fries). I find that this works well, although I like to gild the lily by adding some grated Parmesan cheese just before serving.

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