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Bohemian Brussels Sprouts

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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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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16 Responses to “Bohemian Brussels Sprouts”

  1. CaptainTom says:

    Welcome home Melicious! When I saw “halushki” I had a flashback to a kitchen in coal country, PA and some real good eating!

    • Mel says:

      You know I grew up in coal country, right? I remember my mom making halushki with cabbage, onions, bacon, and lots of buttery egg noodles. Definitely the kind of food you crave if you’re working in a coal mine all day!

  2. I’m totally making that. I love roasting fresh Brussels sprouts and the burnt leaves are the best!

  3. Cate says:

    YUM! These sound amazing, and I happen to have all the ingredients (save for the smoked salt) in my casa. Smoked salt seems to be an item I need, though, b/c smoking food and salting food are two of my favorite things =)

    Glad you had an amazing trip! So glad to have you back and sharing your brilliant, delicious, nom nom nommy recipes!

  4. CaptainTom says:

    “You know I grew up in coal country, right?”

    I did not know that. My parents grew up in Askam, a hamlet just west of Wilkes Barre. we went back to visit relatives all the time. A nice place to be a kid.

  5. Mom says:

    I grew up thinking brussel sprouts had to be boiled and mushy, not to mention come from the Jolly Green Giant freezer box. I think I was in my 30’s before I saw an actual stem of those little green gems…. and I’m a country girl. Your recipe looks and sounds delicious. Your Dad will be in brussel sprout heaven when I make this yummy side dish for dinner tonight. Thanks for sharing! xxoo Mom

  6. Quinn says:

    @Mom: I too grew up thinking that Brussels sprouts had to be mushy and never liked them! Until recently I would avoid them at all costs but it just so happens that I have a stalk of Brussels in my fridge right now! Can’t wait to try this- and use that smoked salt I’ve had for a while and haven’t gotten around to using!

  7. Anita says:

    Ok, so I JUST made these and I’m supposed to be sharing them with my husband when he gets home from work..I’m not sure they’re going to last that long..amazing!

  8. Mary says:

    Hello! I’m so impressed with your blog–and your life in general :-) I’m new here, so please forgive me if you’ve covered this elsewhere. Do you worry about eating cruciferous vegetables? I read about your thyroid surgery and that you’re on thyroid replacement. I’m hypothyroid and get a little obsessive about what is optimal for thyroid health. And if you try to eat Paleo AND try to avoid eating foods deemed bad for your thyroid, sometimes there doesn’t seem to be anything left to eat. When I learned strawberries and peaches contributed to low thyroid function, I about had a fit! And almonds? C’mon!! Anyway, just wondered if you gave the anti-thyroid properties in foods any thought.

    • Mel says:

      Hi, Mary! So glad you found me — welcome!

      The only concession I make to cruciferous veg is to cook them very, very well before I eat them — so no raw cabbage salads for me :-(

      But I eat strawberries and peaches and almonds on occasion.

  9. Mary says:

    Me too.

  10. Jen B, says:

    I’m in Nom Nom – Clothes Make the Girl heaven. Wanted to cook up some brussels sprouts to go with my Hawaiian pig from the Nom Nom site, but didn’t want to go overly porky with my typical bacon roasted brussels so I searched and came across this recipe, which inspired my own version (didn’t have the applewood salt, although I will be ordering some):

    I melted some bacon fat I saved from some super smoky bacon. Tossed the brussels sprouts with some paprika, wild porcini mushroom salt (from The Spice Lab), ground black pepper, and sliced shallots then tossed those in the bacon fat. Roasted according to your instructions. SO good, I could eat the whole pan. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. sandy buckley says:

    My favorite way to fix Brussels sprouts is on the grill, and I usually do them whole or cut in half if very large. Method and outcome probably very similar to these. I drizzle with olive oil, and add sea salt and garlic to taste. In the interests of time, I usually use garlic powder. I use a grill basket, put over a hot fire, and stir occasionally. They are done in 10 minutes or less. It’s hard to stop eating them! In season, I will often cook 2 lbs. at a time so I have plenty left over for additional meals when I’m not grilling.

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