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KitchenWise: Getting evenly roasted Brussels sprouts is all about space

The Associated Press
FoodKitchenWiseBrusselsSproutsJPEG0444a
This Feb. 23, 2015 photo shows roasted Brussels sprouts with Matzo Walnut crumbs in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

With Passover looming, I thought it might be nice to suggest a side dish — roasted Brussels sprouts — to complement the feast’s traditional items.

Brussels sprouts are the tiniest member of the cabbage family. And I’ll confess that I used to hate them. In the old days, they were not only boiled, but boiled to death, which generated a truly unfortunate aroma. Happily, intrepid chefs in recent years have managed to reinvent (not to say redeem) these little stinkers in any number of ways.

One of my favorite restaurant preparations is roasted Brussels sprouts. This recipe cuts down the time required to prep them as well as the time they need to spend in the oven. The right tool for the job, prep-wise, is a food processor fitted with the slicing disk. After you’ve trimmed the bottoms of the sprouts by hand, it takes no time at all to slice them thinly with the processor. When sliced, the sprouts get tender very quickly in the oven.

How to roast Brussels sprouts? Just as you would any vegetable. But the goal is not simply to cook them, but to brown them, which concentrates their flavor. The oven should be hot, 400 degrees. The vegetables, well-seasoned, should be spread in shallow pans. If they are crowded on top of each other, they will steam. Not good. You want them to roast.

To ensure the Brussels sprouts have the desired elbow room, I spread the slices over multiple sheet pans. This does mean switching the placement of the pans in the oven several times during roasting — as well as stirring the sprouts occasionally — but the even browning is worth it.

If you’d rather not have to juggle the sheet pans in the oven at the last minute, you can cook the sprouts an hour or so ahead of time, transfer them all to one sheet pan, then warm them at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.

Speaking from personal experience, I promise that this recipe will turn Brussels sprouts haters into lovers.

Chef Sara Moulton writes this column for the Associated Press.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Matzo-Walnut Crumbs

Start to finish: 1 hour (35 minutes active)

Nonstick cooking spray

1 sheet matzo bread

14 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

13 cup walnuts or pine nuts

1 12 pounds Brussels sprouts

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

Set the matzo on a rimmed baking sheet. Use 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to brush both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Add the nuts to the sheet pan, then set in the oven. As soon as the matzo is golden brown, remove it from the oven. Continue baking the nuts until toasted, for 3 to 4 minutes for pine nuts and for 6 to 8 minutes for walnuts. Let the matzo and nuts cool.

Set the matzo and nuts in a zipper-close plastic bag, then pound them gently with a mallet or rolling pin until they are evenly crushed. Set them aside. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Trim and discard the ends of the Brussels sprouts. Using a food processor fitted with its thinnest slicing blade, slice the sprouts. Spread the sliced sprouts evenly between the 2 prepared baking sheets. Drizzle each pan with 1 12 tablespoons of the olive oil, 12 teaspoon of salt and 14 teaspoon pepper. Toss well, then roast them on the oven upper shelf until they are golden brown, for about 15 minutes, turning the pans and stirring the sprouts every 5 minutes.

Transfer the roasted sprouts to a bowl. Add the matzo-nut mixture, toss well, then it serve right away.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition per serving: 190 calories (120 calories from fat), 14 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 0 cholesterol, 5 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams dietary fiber, 230 milligrams sodium

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