Good heavens I love brussels sprouts. It always amazes me when someone says they don’t like them. Frank Bruni covers how our food tastes change in this smart piece from this week’s NYTimes Dining section and, naturally, sprouts make the list. But I don’t care what those naysayers say, I’m crazy about sprouts. I make this recipe all the time. And a stunning brussels sprout pie with feta and phyllo that’s perfect for vegetarians at Thanksgiving.
Brussels are more than delicious. They are “powerhouses of nutrition” according to TreeHugger. Match them with hazelnuts. Add cheese. It’s a sprout party. Here’s how this recipe came to be.
Last month I had a whirlwind, wonderful trip to New York. Of course, I had meetings at W. W. Norton to talk about the book with Maria Guarnaschelli, my editor, and the smart publicity and sales team. I spent some time with my agent, Martha Kaplan. And beyond a few other meetings here and there, for the first time in awhile, I had enough time to breathe, and that meant IRL catch up with my very good friend Gail (@TheTOUGHCookie, the dazzlingly talented cookie decorator) and her wife Jackie. We went to Barbuto, an automatic choice when I am anywhere near the West Village.
I have never had anything but a great meal at Chef Jonathon Waxman‘s Barbuto. For all the talk of his roast chicken, I have to say, he has won me over with his way with vegetables. In fact, it was the garlicky, perfectly dressed kale salad that was on my mind when we walked in the door in January. I hadn’t tasted that salad for almost a year, but was obsessed with the thought I might taste it one more time. It was that good. No go on the kale salad, but there was an iteration of the same in the form of a raw brussels sprout salad.
When I came home, as much as I loved the salad (and I made it for myself the first day home) the raw sprouts were not going to work for Dennis. He prefers his vegetables cooked. Using all the glorious flavors of Barbuto’s exceptional salad, I cooked up this side dish.
If you have any leftovers, don’t reheat or microwave the sprouts – that just overcooks them and makes them skunky. Instead, bring to room temperature before topping with an egg.
Serves 2 or 3
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole or coarsely chopped hazelnuts, toasted and skinned*
As always, ample kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
With a sharp knife, a mandoline or the slicing blade of your food processor, slice the brussels sprouts. I love the food processor for this task.
Warm the olive oil in a large, broad sauté pan over medium high heat. When a test leaf sizzles, dump the sliced sprouts into the pan and shake and move the brussels sprouts around until they have wilted to about half their volume. Some edges might be a little golden brown. Add a big pinch of salt and several grindings of pepper, taste and add more as needed.
Immediately spoon out the sprouts into a broad, shallow serving bowl. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Add the cheese and butter and stir until every morsel is coated. Add the nuts and serve.
*Spread out the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a 325°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until you get a good whiff of toasting nuts. Place the hot hazelnuts in a clean cotton dishtowel that is not a favorite (it will never recover from this task.) Now using the towel to help, rub the hazelnuts against one another briskly until the skin releases. Open the towel from time to time and pluck out the nuts that are skinned. Finally, do not be obsessive. Some skins will remain. So what. You’re not cooking linzer torte for Austrian royalty and no one will look askance.
Some announcements. Next Saturday, March 8, I will be teaching a charcuterie class at the Women in Gastronomy event from the Washington DC chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier. There are so many fascinating sessions including demos, discussions on food writing (with Bonnie Benwick), food photography workshops and more! I’m so excited to be working with these terrific women who share my passion for food. There are still tickets available. Click here.
And.. drumroll please.. Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry is now available for pre-order. I couldn’t be more delighted to share this exciting bit of news with all of you. And to share the beautiful cover. Working with Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton was one of the highlights of my professional career, and the quality of this cover is evidence of that extraordinary influence.