How to Fall in Love With Brussels Sprouts

Crispy Caramelized Brussels Sprouts over Miso Lime Noodles — a dish even the staunchest Brussels Sprouts skeptic will love.

In a Facebook exchange asking my friends for fiction recommendations, (I fear that reading fiction has been relegated to “Bucket List” level for me) a few people could not help but recommend a nonfiction book, Seabiscuit. It got “best book I’ve ever read” declarations and my friend Katy remembered how it was “so good, so stimulating, that I had to sometimes put it down to let my heart rate slow.” She got it. That’s what I was looking for.

There is nothing like creativity to inspire creativity.

If good writing inspires, good cooking definitely does the same thing. And when I go to a restaurant, it is less of a utilitarian exercise of satiating hunger than a desire to be inspired. Others visit galleries. I visit restaurants.

I remember the first time I got the chance to go to Root 174. I love when omnivore-centric menus also feature veg-friendly offerings. In fact, I would dare say that sometimes, omni chefs do better at vegetarian dishes because they are NOT preaching to the choir. Instead, they are trying to cater to taste buds that are more used to steak than seitan. A higher hurdle, if you will. Root 174’s dynamic menu always looks great when I see it online, and that evening did not disappoint.

Now my experience has shown me that appetizers and starters are almost always more interesting than entrees. This holds true for Root 174, too. I loved the cucumber soda. A mix of cucumber juice (not through a juicer, but pureed in a Vitamix and passed through cheesecloth), simple syrup, lime and soda. It was not cloyingly sweet, but rather the seltzer’s saltiness lent a different tang that made it infinitely refreshing. I downed the whole glass. And imagined it spiked. Too bad Root 174 is BYOB! 🙂

Then came the Grilled Cauliflower Salad with Radicchio Cilantro and Peanuts. Cool with just a perfect little kick of heat. That went down fast, too. And then there was one of the specials – a Crispy Brussels Sprouts side. The sweet, crunchy coating put one of my favorite seasonal vegetables over the edge.

Boom. And there came the inspiration. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I needed to make it. And this version is so easy, with so little fuss, that you can make it on a weekday.

Brussels sprouts tossed with olive oil and a little brown sugar, crisp roasted in the oven. This is one of those cases where it's fine for the vegetable to blacken. In fact, it makes it even better. Served on top of noodles tossed in a miso lime dressing, to cut through the sweetness — a nice salty tart foil.

Served with a very simple, macrobiotic-style butternut squash soup, I can say that this fall meal was “so good, so stimulating, that I had to sometimes put (my fork) down to let my heart rate slow.”

  Crispy Caramelized Brussels Sprouts over Miso Lime Noodles

Yield: Serves 4 (grudgingly!)

Crispy Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb Brussells sprouts, ends trimmed, cut in half (save the outer leaves that fall off)
2-3 T olive oil

  • 3 T brown sugar

  • BIG pinch of coarse sea salt

  • 1/2 cup pecans

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Take the leaves the fell off the sprouts and toss it with about 1/2-1 T oil, a little pinch of salt and a pinch of the brown sugar. Set on one side of a baking tray.

3. Toss the rest of the sprouts with the rest of the ingredients.

4. Place in the oven.

5. After 5 minutes and every 5 thereafter, check on the leaves and when they are dark brown remove from the pan.

6. After 10 minutes, toss the brussels sprout bulbs.

7. It should all be done after 20 or 25 minutes.

While the sprouts are roasting, prep the noodles

Miso Lime Noodles

  • 4 oz. buckwheat soba noodles
1 cup hot water, just off boil

  • 2 T mellow white miso

  • 3 T tamari

  • 3 T mirin

  • 2 T toasted sesame oil

  • 2 T lime juice
  • Sliced green onions to top

1. Cook buckwheat noodles al dente.

2. While it is boiling, combine all other ingredients. Mix well.

3. Once noodles are done, drain and toss with the dressing.

4. Top with the Brussels sprouts, pecans and green onions.

Bite. Close eyes. Savor.

Categories: Brazen Kitchen