If you’ve never seen Brussels sprouts in the fields, you really should try to get a look. Now is the time; they reach their peak in November and December (which is why so many of us have them at our Thanksgiving table) and so may very well be growing at your nearest farm right now. They look like tropical ornamental succulents – a thick stem studded with green bulbs and topped with lush foliage — and you’d never-ever think of them as something as pedestrian as cabbage. But mini-cabbages are exactly what they are (Brassica oleracea, Gemmifera).
I didn’t like them as a kid – the old sulfurous smelly thing that kids are ever-so sensitive to – but I adore them as an adult. Here at mine we usually do some sort of boil with lemon and such for Turkey Day (more about that in November), but when Adriana told me she was going to roast hers for our recent playdate/sleepover, I got really excited. Adri is a fantastic cook who likes simple but stylish meat and veg and I always learn a lot from her. Like me she is a single mom working full time, so like me, she has had to streamline the production of good meals. That is not a bad thing; it keeps you very focused on the quality of the ingredients, because you don’t have the time nor energy to make up for cruddy produce or take fancy steps.
And since the kids keep each other busy while we are mucking about in the kitchen and having a glass of wine, it is always a fun time.
So, here are Adriana’s oven-roasted Brussels sprouts. They were so easy, so fab, great with steak…you know I’ll be doing these a lot for the next couple of months!
2 pints Brussels sprouts*, outer leaves removed and halved lengthwise
Liberal grindings of salt and pepper
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
8 sage leaves, cut into narrow ribbons
Leaves from one long sprig of rosemary
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place Brussels sprouts in a single layer in an oven dish (with sides). Sprinkle liberally with the salt and pepper (preferably from a grinder). Toss thoroughly with olive oil and herbs and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until you have nice crispiness on the edges of the sprouts. Serve, finishing with sea salt if desired.
*When buying Brussels sprouts, look for tight bulbs that are bright green and bottom stems that are smooth and clean. In this recipe, any leaves that fall off during cooking tend to get nice and crispy, like chips!