I purchased my sprouts at the Park Slope Food Coop. Though some media outlets argue that the place is teeming with “militant sanctimonious fascist hippies”, it is also home to a great selection of produce, including, but not limited to, teeny tiny brussels sprouts. When I found entire stalks of them–leaves and all–piled in a shopping cart beside the rainbow cherry tomatoes and kabocha squash, I couldn’t resist.
Brussels sprouts are a staple on our table each Thanksgiving, a holiday with which I have a love/hate relationship. Like most of my favorite holiday foodstuffs, however, sprouts aren't exactly native to North America. In fact, they weren't widely cultivated in the United States until about 100 years ago. The exception, of course, was Jefferson who brought them back with him from Paris and grew them at Monticello along with kohlrabi, radicchio, and sea kale, revolutionary that he was.
I'd love to say that this dish might convert even the most stalwart sprout hater, but truth be told, it probably won't; apparently, your preference for them is genetic. In 2003, scientists identified a gene that affects taste receptors and causes certain individuals to experience the sensation of bitterness while noshing on brussels sprouts and cabbages.
Brussels sprouts with lemon, walnuts and pecorino
2 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
zest from one lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon (or more, to taste)
pecorino cheese, for shaving
Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the brussels sprouts with the olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 25-30 minutes.
Toss together the brussels sprouts with the walnuts, lemon zest and juice. Add more lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Top with shavings of pecorino cheese (use a vegetable peeler, and use as much as you like), and serve warm.