This is a recipe for people who don’t like Brussels sprouts which is, let’s face it, probably three quarters of the population.
Sprouts smell. They make YOU smell. They give you wind. Or indigestion. And still, inexplicably, they ride out onto tables every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I suspect it’s the inner frugality that makes us persevere with the sprout: they are abundant, they are cheap, easy to grow and they are a vegetable. Plus they are a token anti-Brexit gesture (we choose Brussels!).
A bit like in the case of courgette, chefs, cooks and normal (heh!) people have been trying to come up with genius ideas to turn meh into yummy. Bacon. Chestnuts. Cheese. Garlic. Pickled onions and breadcrumbs. Gravy. Why, I wonder, can’t we just give up and say ‘sorry, sprouts – it’s not you, it’s me’ and quite simply stop trying in vain to make them palatable?
Since, glancing through the seasonal recipes in magazines and weekend supplements, the answer is clearly ‘NO’, here’s my offering. It’s frugality central because it uses also the Brussels tops off those funny sticks we like the look of in the market and then curse, heaving them home. The tops are usually discarded, wrongly, as they actually have lighter flavour.
I blanch them and toss them with toasted almonds – that’s all. Nice – you may even imagine it’s savoy cabbage. The sprouts themselves needn’t be halved as it makes for varied textures if some are smaller and some larger – that’s why I recommend lugging the sprout stick back home; little ones and big ones grow on it together.
They need to be salted and peppered about twice as much as an amount you think sensible. They need LOTS of olive oil and they roast until the outsides are charred but not burnt; crisp but not tough; papery but flavoursome. Gherkin gives them a bit of interest, sharpness and sweet acidity (oh how I love gherkins) and it was my last minute flash of genius while concocting this dish. I’m so pleased about it I daren’t google how common an idea it is.
And in the end you can always just eat the charred skins and pretend they are crisps.