Despite my more adventurous nature, I am embarrassed to say that I had never had brussel sprouts until I cooked this dish. As I planned my usual Sunday night dinner for the roommates, I wanted to move away from vegetables I typically cook and try something new. I’m not really sure why, but I settled on brussel sprouts. Yes. The dreaded brussel sprouts.
Growing up, I heard so many horror stories about brussel sprouts (and it’s typically demonized in media) that I never wanted to eat them. But I thought it was high time to put myself out there and finally try these things that look like tiny cabbages. Besides, I feel like these little guys don’t get enough credit. I thought they were really good. You just have to season a vegetable. Most things don’t taste very good if you just throw them in some boiling water and spoon them onto the plate. It’s all about dressing them up.
We start by cutting these cute little guys up. I chopped off the stem part and then just sliced them in half. I want nice little brussel sprout halves for roasting but I also kept any leaves that fell off as well. I threw all of this into a bowl and set them aside as I cut through the pound of sprouts I had bought.
Since I’m roasting them, they needed a good coating of olive oil. But it’d be boring to just coat them in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Since I had a balsamic reduction going onto them later on, I decided that a little bit of rosemary and sage would work well on the sprouts as well. Rosemary, in my opinion, is almost a must in anything that’s being made with balsamic. And since I was making chicken with these sprouts, I had some leftover sage that I thought would work nicely with the balsamic as well.
After tossing all of these sprouts in the olive oil, I placed them cut-side (the flat part) down onto a baking sheet. This way, when they roast in the oven, they’ll char perfectly on the cut-side. Since the loose leaves don’t have a cut-side, I just piled them onto a corner of the baking sheet so they could crisp up as well.
This is a fairly quick roast, something I really like. All this needs is 18 minutes at 400˚F and they will get this nice char on them. It’s as simple as that.
Then I turn these guys over and it’s time to finish them off. I drizzled a balsamic reduction I made over the top of them and then sprinkled brown sugar to get some caramelizing of the sprouts when I put them back in the oven. A balsamic reduction is not the same as balsamic vinegar. It’s a lot thicker and more concentrated in flavor. So you don’t need a whole lot of this stuff to get a good balsamic flavor on the sprouts.
You can buy reduced balsamic at the store, but I made my own because it’s cheaper and I don’t use enough reduced balsamic to justify buying a whole bottle this late in the semester. To make it, all you have to do is heat up a cup of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of honey, and a clove of crushed garlic in a saucepan. When the vinegar is boiling, reduce the heat and let it sit there and simmer for about 20 minutes or so. Now I must put out the warning that boiling an entire cup of balsamic vinegar makes the smell of the balsamic really permeate your apartment. Sources I read warned me about that, but I don’t think I was prepared for how pungent it would actually be. Make sure you’ve got some good ventilation, otherwise you might be coughing a little bit with the strong smell.
I put these back in the oven for several more minutes to get some caramelization onto the sprouts but that’s really all it takes. It’s a pretty simple preparation that can taste really good and looks good too.
If you have leftover reduced balsamic, you can top your sprouts with a little or a lot more of the balsamic to your taste.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with a Balsamic Reduction
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 lb of brussel sprouts
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tbs sage
- 1 tbs rosemary
- ¼ cup balsamic reduction
- 1 tbs brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 400˚F
- Trim brussel sprouts and cut in half into a bowl
- Add in olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, and sage
- Toss to evenly coat sprouts in the oil
- Place sprouts cut-side down on a baking sheet
- Bake sprouts for 18 minutes
- After 18 minutes, flip sprouts over and drizzle the balsamic reduction on top
- Sprinkle brown sugar over the top and place back into the oven
- Bake for another 7 minutes to slightly caramelize the tops