My family never complains when I serve dessert or roasted potatoes, but when it comes to vegetables, I need a few tricks to spark their enthusiasm. Roasting vegetables is trick number one. Roasting vegetables caramelizes them, giving the vegetables a robust and appealing flavor. And as the word, “caramelize” suggests, it adds an almost sweet taste. The flavor is not noticeably sweet. It’s hard to describe the flavor of roasted vegetables but it’s easy to say they are always transformed into something delicious. My husband, Pierre, and son, Alessio, who are my fussy eaters when it comes to vegetables, say, “I don’t mind eating vegetables when you cook them. Even Brussels sprouts.”
Roasting vegetables maintains the beauty of the vegetable and adds exceptional flavor without drowning it in processed sauces or seasonings. All you need is a slight drizzle of a quality olive oil and a pinch of French sea salt. If you want to take this dish to the next level, add some pancetta. This addition creates a richer dish and is another acceptable way to “disguise” the Brussels sprouts.
Fresh ground pepper
If using a stalk of Brussels sprouts, slice each Brussels sprout from the stalk. If you buy Brussels sprouts that are already removed from the stalk you will need to cut off the brown end at the bottom of each sprout.
Remove any yellow leaves from the sprouts.
Rinse and dry the Brussels sprouts. I leave them on a kitchen towel to air dry.
Slice each Brussels sprout in half lengthwise.
Place the Brussels sprouts on a cookie sheet, and drizzle with olive oil just enough to lightly coat them. I don’t measure, but an educated guess is about 1 to 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil to a pound of Brussels sprouts. Using your hands or a spatula, mix the Brussels sprouts and olive oil to coat them evenly with the oil. I prefer to use my hands, then rub the residual olive oil into my hands. Olive oil is great for your skin.
Roast at 400 degrees F until tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Usually about 34 - 40 minutes.
To add pancetta, slice the pancetta into small strips. When there is about 15 minutes of cooking time left, add the pancetta to the Brussels sprouts and toss them together. If you add the pancetta too soon, it will burn.
Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and serve.
Often, some leaves fall off the sprouts, and when they cook, they get crispy like potato chips. When my children were little, I purposely removed some leaves and served them these crispy chips. They were a big hit over the Brussels sprouts themselves.
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