Ricki Cooking School, Chapter One – Brussels Sprouts

My in-laws came over last night and they really enjoyed my Brussels sprouts and asked how to make them. The thing is, I always get compliments on the easiest food. Here is how I make Brussels sprouts (or, really, any vegetable) taste good:

1. Cut vegetable appropriately. In the case of Brussels sprouts, that means cutting off the little knobby end, and then cutting them in half lengthwise (or quartering them lengthwise if they’re huge). You’ll get some leaves that separate from the sprout this way. I keep the leaves with everything else; I love the crunch they get when the crisp up in the oven. If you want things more even, discard the leaves. (Also, if you cut them crosswise or fail to cut off the knobby end or just randomly chop them up without regard to appearance – they will still taste good.)

2. Peel some garlic cloves. If you’re like me about garlic, peel at least a head.

3. Put either in a bowl or directly on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt. (You could also line the baking sheet in foil to make for easier clean up.)

4. Put the oven at 450 degrees. Put in the Brussels Sprouts on the baking sheet. When they look like you want to eat them, take them out of the oven. Maybe about 15 minutes, but sometimes less. I usually check at ten minutes, shake the pan, and put them back in.

And really, follow these directions for virtually any vegetable. Potatoes and other root vegetables will take longer to cook. (I’ve also done potatoes at 500 degrees, but really, that’s excessive, and usually results in my smoke alarm going off.) And maybe change up the spicing strategy. For instance, carrots are better with fennel seeds or cumin seeds than they are with garlic cloves. Potatoes do well with a hit of dried rosemary in addition to the cloves. (I don’t like using fresh rosemary in this particular application but it’s up to you.) Cauliflower tastes great with some mustard seeds or cumin seeds instead. A little crushed red pepper never hurt anything. But really, almost any vegetable can be cooked by dousing it in olive oil and salt and roasting it in the oven with some peeled garlic cloves until it looks/smells tasty.

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