Brussels sprouts are the tiniest member of the cabbage family. And I'll confess that I used to hate them. In the old days they were not only boiled, but boiled to death, which generated a truly unfortunate aroma. Happily, intrepid chefs in recent years have managed to reinvent (not to say redeem) these little stinkers in any number of ways.
One of my favourite restaurant preparations is roasted Brussels sprouts. This recipe cuts down the time required to prep them as well as the time they need to spend in the oven. The right tool for the job, prep-wise, is a food processor fitted with the slicing disk. Once you've trimmed the bottoms of the sprouts by hand, it takes no time at all to slice them thinly with the processor. Once sliced, the sprouts get tender very quickly in the oven.
How to roast Brussels sprouts? Just as you would any vegetable. But the goal is not simply to cook them, but to brown them, which concentrates their flavour. The oven should be hot, 400 F. The vegetables, well-seasoned, should be spread out in shallow pans. If they are crowded on top of each other, they will steam. Not good. You want them to roast.
To ensure the Brussels sprouts have the desired elbow room, I spread the slices over multiple sheet pans. This does mean switching the placement of the pans in the oven several times during roasting — as well as stirring the sprouts occasionally — but the even browning is worth it.
If you'd rather not have to juggle the sheet pans in the oven at the last minute, you can cook the sprouts an hour or so ahead of time, transfer them all to one sheet pan, then warm them at 350 F for 5 minutes.
Speaking from personal experience, I promise that this recipe will turn Brussels sprouts haters into lovers.
ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH MATZO-WALNUT CRUMBS
Start to finish: 1 hour (35 minutes active)
1 sheet matzo bread
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
Set the matzo on a rimmed baking sheet. Use 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to brush both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Add the nuts to the sheet pan, then set in the oven. As soon as the matzo is golden brown, remove it from the oven. Continue baking the nuts until toasted, 3 to 4 minutes for pine nuts and 6 to 8 minutes for walnuts. Let the matzo and nuts cool.
Set the matzo and nuts in a zip-close plastic bag, then pound gently with a mallet or rolling pin until evenly crushed. Set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 400 F.
Trim off and discard the ends of the Brussels sprouts. Using a food processor fitted with its thinnest slicing blade, slice the sprouts. Spread the sliced sprouts evenly between the 2 prepared baking sheets. Drizzle each pan with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss well, then roast on the oven upper shelf until golden brown, 15 minutes, turning the pans and stirring the sprouts every 5 minutes.
Transfer the roasted sprouts to a bowl. Add the matzo-nut mixture, toss well, then serve right away.
Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories; 120 calories from fat (63 per cent of total calories); 14 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 5 g protein; 230 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television's "Sara's Weeknight Meals" and has written three cookbooks, including "Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners."