Green Balls of Heaven

Colder, shorter days mean that Brussels sprouts have sprouted and are probably arriving at a farmers market near you. Not a fan? Let me give you a few reasons to give these babies another chance.

In the last few years, these mighty green balls have been elevated from memories of your grandmother's steamed or boiled and bland version to quite a high status in restaurants all over the country. Food magazines have also been exclaiming the power of these mini cruciferous bites making them a very hot commodity. Move over, kale...Brussels are enjoying the spotlight.
And rightfully so. Over the last few years, you have likely seen them roasted and caramelized to perfection or even shaved and turned into a flavorful salad, served with a generous helping of pancetta or bacon and possibly lots of garlic, as well as sprinkled with copious amounts of Parmesan to give it another powerful punch of flavor. Add a squeeze of lemon or acid and the flavor brightens even more.

Fortunately, one of the farmers at my farmers market grows these wonderful green balls and they debuted just a few Sundays ago. (When I saw them, I have to admit I danced a little jig.) Naturally, I snatched a container and have been waiting patiently to make this recipe that my dear friend, culinary writer and fellow Les Dames d'Escoffier International member brought to the holiday party. After two helpings, I knew I needed this recipe and she generously shared it with me.

It is now my chance to pass it forward. As we begin a new year, let's celebrate the bounty of the farmer's harvest and eat plenty of these green balls of heaven.

Buen provecho!
Green Balls of Heaven
The Cowgirl Gourmet slightly adapted this recipe from Cin-Cin Restaurant and Wine Bar in Los Gatos, California which was later printed in the San Antonio Express-News

Print recipe

Even if you don't love Brussels, give this recipe a chance. It may be just what you need to fall in love with this little veg.

Serves 2-4

1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved with core removed along with any discolored external leaves
3-4 slices applewood sliced bacon, cut in half (or three strips, depending on the width of the bacon) lengthwise and then finely diced cross-wise
1/2 small Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely diced
1 1/2 tablespoons white truffle oil, optional*
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or more if you omit the truffle oil, see note below)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Parmesan, Pecorino or Grana Padano cheese, for garnish
Minced chives, optional garnish

In a large bowl, combine Brussels sprouts, bacon, onion and oils and marinate overnight or at least four hours.
When ready to prepare, preheat the oven to 550 degrees. Drizzle a touch of olive oil on the sheet tray and then taking the time to make sure the cut-side of each sprout is down.
Place in the oven and roast until caramelized, about 16-20 minutes, depending on how you like them cooked, so keep an eye on them. The trick, though, is to make sure the bacon gets crispy as well, which is why it needs to be finely diced.

When it is ready, remove from the oven, add the cider vinegar and toss to coat. Add a little salt and pepper to taste and top with grated cheese and chives.

Serve immediately.
*Note: If you do not have any truffle oil, just replace the 1 1/2 tablespoons with extra virgin olive oil.
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