I think Brussels sprouts might be my favorite vegetable.
It wasn’t love at first sight—these things seldom are—but you could say, I guess, it all started back in my days of visiting Nashville, amidst the excitement and unknowns of another budding relationship, when one Sunday night having dinner with friends, we poured leftover walnut-sage brown butter onto roasted Brussels sprouts and couldn’t believe how good it was.
In truth, I shouldn’t have been at all surprised, having tasted the sweet caramelization of Brussels sprouts less than a year before, both at a restaurant and in my kitchen, but, as we sometimes do when we’re busy or distracted or just not tuned in, I’d managed to forgot all about it. The Nashville Brussels sprouts, thank goodness, made a more lasting impression, and my life’s seldom been without them since.
It’s funny how that works, you know? One day, Brussels sprouts—or say, that person you haven’t thought much of until now—does something impressive, and you think, Huh. I never noticed that before! And sometimes that’s enough to change your interactions ever after, to set on course a whole new path of life; other times, you forget and move on and have to be impressed all over again.
For us, Brussels sprouts are that love that came softly, without our seeking it out or expecting it or planning for its entrance in our routines. Through gentle persistence, it’s become the vegetable often accompanying our Sunday night dinners, the favorite dinner on a weeknight, the thing we pick up from the produce department “as a treat.”
Nowadays, we like our Brussels sprouts very simple—barely dressed, just sauteed or roasted enough to turn soft and golden, with crispy edges that crunch when you bite in. We cook them in coconut oil, with hefty dashes of salt and pepper, maybe with some red chili flakes thrown in—because, whereas before I thought little of this cabbage-like vegetable Rudy Huxtable pushed off her plate, today I celebrate it.
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Red Chili Flakes
1 pound of Brussels sprouts, washed and quartered
A couple tablespoons coconut oil (or other high-heat oil)
Red Chili Flakes (optional)
Salt and Pepper
To saute: Heat coconut oil in skillet until fully melted and add Brussels sprouts. Season with chili flakes, salt and pepper; toss a couple times. Continue cooking until sprouts are soft and golden, about 30 minutes.
To roast: Lay sprouts on baking sheet and top with dollops of coconut oil throughout. Season with chili flakes, salt and pepper. Place inside preheated 350-degree oven and bake for about 45 minutes, tossing once, until soft and golden.