When I say Brussels sprouts, what comes to mind? Did you just have a little flashback to sitting at the kitchen table when you were a child, being told by your parents that you had to try at least one before you could leave the table? Me, too. Ugh. Remembering the mere smell of them, alone, brings back vivid memories.
Well, friends, these aren’t your mama’s Brussels sprouts!
I’m not kidding when I tell you that my 2-year-old will gobble these things up and then ask for more. (Digression: I used to claim that she was a picky eater until my BFF pointed out that she didn’t know any other kids her age that would eat quinoa or avocado. Maybe she isn’t that picky after all?) Anywho, when the family sits around the dinner table and these Brussels sprouts are on the menu, we are all vying for more. My 2-year-old gets first dibs, of course. No arguing with a 2-year-old who wants more greens of any kind. You win, baby girl!
Seriously, this may be one of the easiest side dishes you make (other than steaming bland and boring Brussels sprouts — you don’t really make those, do you?). Just a few ingredients are needed and you may have most of them on hand: Maple syrup, Dijon mustard, olive oil, rice vinegar, and, of course, Brussels sprouts.
First, you simply wash, trim, and halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts. I tend to quarter mine unless they are really big, then I’ll cut them up a little more. And don’t you dare get rid of those loose leaves that fall off when you trim them . . . Toss them in the bowl, silly! They may end up being your favorite part when they caramelize and crisp.
Next, you whisk together all the liquid ingredients in a separate bowl. Easy, I tell ya. It’s a 2-minute process that my 2-year-old can help me with. Mostly, she likes to stick her fingers in and taste it. (Read: If you ever come to dinner at my house and I’m serving this, you might have toddler spittle in your Brussels sprouts. I KID, I KID!)
I really like to use a more grainy Dijon mustard, but this particular day it was a smoother variation. Random fact: Did you know Dijon mustard originated in Dijon, France? Hence, the capital “D” in Dijon. Random fact #2: Brussels sprouts, as we know them, originated in Belgium. You’re welcome.
After the liquids have been combined together, pour the mixture over the Brussels sprouts that have been sitting patiently in the other bowl, waiting for their final fitting. (I like to pretend my food items are people. Cooking doesn’t have to be so serious, does it?) At this point, you can be
boring civilized and combine them nicely with a wooden spoon. But if you really want to have fun, you can get your hands right in there and toss them around. Go ahead. Don’t be scared. Soap and water will wash it all off when you are done. Go on. I’m waiting . . .
Doesn’t it feel good to get your hands down in there and mix them up? You can really make the family feel guilty by telling them how you had to do it all by hand while keeping the little secret of how easy it was to make. Me? I let my toddler do all the work for me with her spittle-hands. KIDDING! Still kidding.
Once they are all nicely coated, you simply toss those babies out onto a cookie sheet.
Notice my little silicon baking sheet? This is laying nicely inside of my cookie sheet. Easy cleanup!
If you are not going to use parchment paper or a silicon sheet on top of your cookie sheet, I would offer you spray just a little olive oil on top of the cookie sheet before baking. Remember: these have maple syrup and will caramelize. Read: They will stick if precautions are not taken. Read: Don’t say I didn’t tell you so!
After that, pop them in the oven for 40-45 minutes and go enjoy a little book in your favorite reading corner until they are done. That’s it. Easy.
End result: Nothing but a bunch of yummy goodness.
They look burnt, you say? Nope, they aren’t. That is caramelization happening, folks. See some of those loose leaves all crisped up? Mmm . . . they might very well be the best part! Sneak some for yourself before you dish them up for the family. Shhh . . . don’t tell, but that’s what I do!
One last thing before I go . . .
Here’s the deal: You can sub out some of those ingredients for alternates and get a similar result.
No maple syrup? Try agave or honey. Just keep in mind that you may want to add a little more vinegar, as both of these tend to have a sweeter end result than maple syrup.
No olive oil? Use another oil in its liquid form (no solidified coconut oil).
No rice vinegar? Try apple cider or balsamic, or even plain vinegar if you are in a pinch.
No Dijon mustard? NOOOOO, you cannot substitute yellow mustard. Gross. That won’t work. Skip it and add just a little more vinegar instead for the balance of sweet and tangy.
Enjoy erasing those childhood memories of bland, steamed Brussels sprouts!