Holistic Recipe of the Week: Maple Brussels Sprouts

After the post I did about Brussels sprouts I had a number of readers write me asking for recipes. As I stated in the original post, I like to keep my Brussels sprouts fairly simple – pan seared until tender, unrefined sea salt and olive oil. I’ll sometimes add them to other roasted root vegetables like sweet potato, parsnip, garlic cloves and pearl onions. But some people wanted more ideas. One reader writes:

Hello Doug. I really liked your article on Brussels sprouts. I love them. Do you know of any others ways of cooking them other than steaming? My daughter and some friends hate them and I would like to find some different ways of preparing them and change their minds. Can you think of any different taste-bud-tantalizing ways to prepare Brussels sprouts?
Thank you.

Recipe for Maple Brussels Sprouts.

Hello Debbie.

As I mentioned in the Brussels sprouts blog, my favorite way of cooking Brussels sprouts is to halve them and brown the insides in a cast iron pan. But here is a twist on this simple recipe that might turn some haters into lovers.

I tried this recipe one night when I was feeling creatively inspired from a recipe I found online, and the changes I made turned out fantastic. The secret is in adding just the right amount of maple syrup (and it absolutely must be real, preferably organic, maple syrup otherwise you might as well just dump high fructose corn syrup on your lovely little sprouts). Too much syrup and it ends up tasting too sweet, like a dessert. You just want to have a little sweetness; something to bring out the natural nuttiness of the browned Brussels sprouts.

Maple Brussels Sprouts

24 small Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and frayed outer leaves removed
extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. organic maple syrup (adjust to taste)
unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the Brussels sprouts in cold water with a little salt and vinegar added for 30 minutes. After soaking, cut the sprouts in half and place them in a bowl. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat. Add a healthy pinch or two of unrefined sea salt and a few twists of the pepper grinder and toss again.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium low heat. Once pan is hot, add the Brussels sprouts in a single layer, cut side down. You should hear these sizzle when they touch the pan, otherwise it’s not hot enough. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes or so, allowing the cut sides to brown and crisp up. Stab with a fork or taste one to gauge if they’re done. Remember, you want them to be just tender, not soft. Brussels sprouts taste off if they’re overcooked.

Once they’re tender you might want to uncover them and turn the heat up to get that deep brown, caramelization on the underside. This is what brings out the delicious natural sweetness of the Brussels sprouts.

Scoop the sprouts out into a clean bowl. Drizzle with the maple syrup and toss gently, being careful not to let them fall apart. Give it a taste and see if it needs more of the maple syrup. Remember, you’re not looking for it to taste sweet, you’re only looking to bring out more of the natural deliciousness of the Brussels sprout itself. Although it is a healthy sweetener with a good mineral profile, maple syrup is still sugar, so it’s a good idea to practice some restraint with it.

Eat immediately (holding Brussels sprouts in the oven or a chafing dish leads to the flavor going off just as overcooking does).