Side dish Saturdays: Crispy sesame-crusted brussels sprouts (4 servings)

I admit: I'm one of those people who thought she hated brussels sprouts. When I was little, my mom used to make them for herself from time to time, and my dad always wrinkled up his nose and teased her about it. I used to laugh at her with him and then started assuming I didn't like them, even though I'd never even tried them. A few months ago -- and I don't even remember what possessed me to try this -- I decided to buy some at market and roast them, and I was happily surprised with the results. I do think they must be nasty if they're just boiled and mushy, but roasted or sauteed, they're delicious. Today's recipe comes from Rachael Ray, although I changed the serving amounts and cook time a bit.

You will need:

  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 1/4 lb brussels sprouts, stem end trimmed, halved

  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

  • salt and pepper

  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds

Steps:

  1. Melt the butter and oils over medium heat in a large rimmed skillet. Add the brussels sprouts and pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden-brown (about 20 minutes).

  2. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until the brussels sprouts are dark brown and crispy. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed, and serve hot.

The original recipe called for a total of 40 minutes of cooking time, but I used only 25-30. The leaves (which inevitably fell off) started to get really black, and I didn't want to get the kitchen smoky by cooking them much longer. If I hadn't trimmed off the woody stem, I'm sure they could have held together better, but then they would have been too tough. Maybe there's a trick with cutting them in half that I don't know about.

Anyway, I really enjoyed these, although Bryan wasn't a fan. (I believe the term "cabbage testicles" was thrown out at one point.) The sesame oil provided a nice toasty background without overwhelming the vegetable flavor. Brussels sprouts are in season in PA right now, so go ahead and give them another try! I'm glad I did!

Speaking of seasonal veggies, I just stumbled on this PDF guide to vegetable harvest seasons in Pennsylvania. Score!