One of my favorite things about travel is the way it challenges my assumptions about how things work. By necessity, I’m SUCH a creature of habit in my everyday life – which can lead to a systematic slog through far too many days.
But I feel wide awake when I travel, like parts of my brain that have been dormant are lighting up and alive. The architecture, people, language, and food – especially the food – we encountered in Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Kutna Hora, and Paris this month inspired me very much. This is the first in what will be a series of recipes I’m adapting from luscious things I ate while on holiday.
One Sunday evening in Prague – after a day spent lolling on a park bench at Vysehrad nibbling on picnic food, and pre-dinner drinks at the Tynska Literarni Kavarna (a “literary cafe” tucked in a little square behind the Tyn Church) – we bought dinner supplies from the food stands in Old Town Square to eat in our apartment. Loaded with plates of garlicky sausage, Old Prague Ham (Prosciutto di Praga), and halushki (cabbage sautéed with bits of bacon and potato dumplings), we hunkered down on our IKEA furniture and dug in, eating like animals and only stopping to moan about how tasty the food was and what a lovely day it had been.
These Brussels sprouts are inspired by the smoky-sweet tenderness of the halushki, without the potato dumplings and sugary bacon. I added caraway seeds for a light touch of sweetness, and the smoked salt does a decent job of standing in for the bacon. I like to cut the Brussels sprouts into quarters so more of the outer leaves flake off; the leaf chips turn a crunchy brown in the oven, which is a nice contrast to the tender middles of the sprouts.
Bohemian Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon smoked salt
sea salt & black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Trim the stem ends off the Brussels sprouts and cut them into quarters lengthwise. Place cut Brussels sprouts and any loose leaves in a large bowl.
2. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine coconut oil, garlic, caraway seeds, and paprika. Microwave 25-30 seconds until the coconut oil is melted and the garlic is fragrant. Mix with a fork to blend, then pour over the Brussels sprouts, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat. Sprinkle with the smoked salt, then taste and add additional sea salt and pepper to your liking.
3. Spread the sprouts on the baking sheet in a single layer and roast – stirring once or twice – until browned on the outside and tender inside, about 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer sprouts to a serving bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, and adjust seasonings. (I ended up adding a little more smoked salt to make ’em sing.)
Serve alongside a lovely pork shoulder or sauté with ground pork (or beef) for a quick one-pan meal. Or, do what I did: eat them with your fingers straight off the pan.
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