Who can resist a cabbage the perfect size for a dollhouse? Not Fern and Blossom! They have loved Brussels sprouts since their first Thanksgiving. I'll never forget how they pinched the beloved little cabbages off their plates...and pinched and pinched and pinched some more. They dubbed them "little balls," and they have loved this vegetable ever since -- even without bacon being involved.
This was our first year to grow Brussels sprouts in our garden. I pinched off the tops a little too deep into September (next year I'm aiming for September 1), so the little cabbages that sprouted off our stalks aren't huge. But we find that is part of their charm. We can roast the small sprouts without cutting an X on the bottom (but if yours are bigger than, say, a Bing cherry, then do X them for even roasting).
We love the simplest preparation possible for these sprouts. We fire up the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. We trim the sprouts off the stalk, tip them into a cast-iron skillet and douse them with olive oil. We roll them around to make sure they get a good sheen. Then we pop them in for a good roasting... from fifteen minutes to twenty-five, depending on size. We like ours to come out with caramelized leaves.
On goes the Malden's sea salt.
We confess we hardly ever eat ours with a fork. We pinch them right out of the bowl and call them popcorn Brussels sprouts.
When we want something a little fancier, perhaps for Thanksgiving dinner, we roast them the same way, then toss them with walnut oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some toasted walnuts. We've got some stalks still tucked under garden fleece out there in the cold. With any luck, more than one holiday table this season will be graced with our beloved little balls.