Are Brussels sprouts the new kale? I’ve been seeing them in markets and on menus all over the place – shaved raw into salads and roasted to a smoky-edged char in wood-fired ovens.
I didn’t know how much I could love Brussels sprouts, but that’s because when I was growing up my mom didn’t cook them – I don’t remember intriguing miniature cabbages appearing anywhere on the table when I was a kid. Were they not farmed on a large scale back then or were they just not a part of my family’s food tradition? I have a feeling they were the kind of vegetable you bought frozen in the 70’s, which might explain why I never laid eyes on a fresh Brussels sprout until I was an adult.
Even a just few years ago, those fresh-picked stalks with the sprouts still attached were kind of a novelty in produce departments, but now I see them everywhere. It also never occurred to me that they could be so easily – and quickly – cooked in the microwave, with really delicious results.
My daughter shares a passion for them, so I’ve been popping Brussels sprouts in the microwave for a snack or quick meal for the two of us. The man and the boy in our house have no interest in eating foods that when cooked might even remotely smell like a fart (tell me, what is UP with that? … definitely a guy thing), so it’s been our little treat.
We usually just drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt, but this toasted pine nut gremolata — a chopped garnish with parsley, fresh lemon zest and Parmesan — is quick to make and tastes so right with their sweet, nutty character.
Double or triple the recipe - cooking in separate batches - if you're preparing the Brussels sprouts for a large gathering.
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 lemon, preferably organic
- 1/4 cup picked parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup finely grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound brussels sprouts
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the pine nuts in a small, heavy pan (such as cast iron) over medium high heat; toast until rich golden brown, tossing frequently. Keep your eyes on them as they can go from toasted to burned quickly! Let cool slightly.
- Wash and dry the lemon; use a swivel vegetable peeler to remove thin strips of the skin, leaving the white pith behind.
- Put the pine nuts, lemon peel and parsley on a cutting board in a little mound; chop it all together with a chef's knife until the mixture is uniformly finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese and olive oil.
- Trim the stem ends off the Brussels sprouts. Halve any that are larger than 1 inch in diameter so they cook evenly and quickly. Give them a quick wash in a colander, then put them in a microwave safe bowl with just a bit of the rinsing water clinging to them. Cover with an upside-down plate and microwave on high heat for 4 minutes; they should be bright green and crisp-tender. If you like them a bit more cooked, microwave another minute or two (they might lose their green color after this point but will still taste delicious).
- Toss the Brussels sprouts with the gremolata and season with salt and pepper to taste.