“The brussels sprouts never fall from the favorite,” is a thought that I would never expect to stir in my mind as I deliberate what to bring for the perfect potluck performance.
For most of my life, brussel sprouts only entertained the twiddling of my fork on the margins of my plate. They were never to be eaten or looked at, only self-served as a politeness before exclaiming that “I’m too stuffed for more.” Needless to say, I would have never considered them as more than the most distasteful green vegetable—a competitive title to receive by my judgment.
My mother tried everything to make them more palatable to my pickiness, even going as far as to wrap them in a circumference of crispy bacon but to no avail. I planned to abstain from their bland, unappetizing character.
And so, I successfully avoided them for several years, all until my freshman year in college, when an upperclassmen teammate cooked them for dinner and insisted that their caramelization in balsamic vinegar and maple syrup would guarantee I change my mind.
Now, they consistently perform as a personal favorite and my most confident crowd-pleaser. This recipe adapts and honors the first bite of brussels I enjoyed, with my additional lessons from trying to recreate the perfectly crisp, salty-sweet mouthful which assures to adjust any anti-brussels attitude.
1 pint brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 425℉. Trim the bottom of the brussels sprouts. Slice each brussels sprout lengthwise (from top to bottom) once or twice depending on its size. I have found that only slicing the larger brussel sprouts in half makes it more difficult for them to crisp and cook evenly. Since you will typically grab a mixed bag of brussels sprouts, it is important to survey your sprouts and decide which ones will need an extra slice. Once cut, move the brussels sprouts to a large mixing bowl.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze, and maple syrup. Stir well so that the ingredients can mix evenly. Pour the dressing over the brussels sprouts. With a large spoon, toss the sprouts until they are evenly coated in the dressing.
Evenly distribute the brussel sprouts onto a baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the brussel sprouts in the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until the sprouts are beginning to crisp on the edges. Be sure to shake the pan to toss the sprouts every 5-10 minutes so they cook uniformly. Once cooked and crisped to your liking, remove from the oven, serve, and enjoy!
Cover photo courtesy of feedfeed