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Brussels Sprouts with Caraway Seeds

Ohh, brussels sprouts. The unsung hero of the Thanksgiving table. Have your turkey, eat as many sweet potatoes as you’d like; when the maple syrup is dripping down your chin, the marshmallows bursting from your jowls, and the cranberry sauce shmeared bright red across your plate, you will have a moment – everyone has a moment – when the sweetness of it all, the sheer quantity of sugar, exhausts you. At that moment, you’ll reach for the bowl of brussels sprouts, grateful that something on the table that’s purely savory. Thank goodness for brussels sprouts.

here’s the thing about sprouts recipes, though. Lots involve that very maple syrup that coats your yams. Or apples. Or pears (guilty as charged). Those are delicious – I’m not criticizing! – but if you take your turkey in a sweet direction (here’s one recipe I’m particularly excited about that looks pretty sweet), you’ll want a foil for all that sugar. So if I were making Tday dinner this year, I’d go as simple as it gets. Just some olive oil, salt and pepper – and the secret star ingredient: caraway seeds.

Let’s talk caraway for a moment. It’s deeply savory, and a welcome break from the sweet stuff. It’s distinctive on its own: when paired with caraway, brussels sprouts need little embellishment (let’s face it: you’re saving your juice for the perfect turkey and a slew of pies). And they provide a little crunch to those sprouts, always welcome on a day when mashed potatoes and candied yams reign.

Also – and the importance of the following is not to be underestimated – they’re easy to make. Let’s be honest: brussles sprounts are the fifth child of turkey day dinner. Toss ’em in the oven. Forget about ’em. If it’s a good recipe, the sprouts will turn out just fine on their own, while you’re fussing over your pie and basting that bird. And by the way? Cook’s secret: these sprouts are shockingly delicious right out of the fridge the morning after the big day. The caraway will have permeated the vegetable completely; sneaky leftover nibblers, I aim to please you.

Also, incidentally: these sprouts are good all year, not just on Tday. If you’re making a smaller batch, you might try making them on the stove top, as I did the second time I made them. They certainly get more blistered and brown over in a hot pan, and while they cook a bit less evenly, I found it quite exciting to watch those caraway seeds crackle and pop over the flames, crazy chick that I am.

Brussels Sprouts with Caraway Seeds
adapted from a recipe in Gourmet

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caraway Seeds
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
salt and pepper
freshly ground nutmeg (optional – if you only have the pre-grated stuff, skip it)

Preheat oven to 450°F and place a rack in middle of the oven.

Toss Brussels sprouts with oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and a very light dusting of nutmeg (if using) in a bowl until well coated. Transfer to a large 4-sided sheet pan in 1 layer and roast 10 minutes. Sprinkle caraway seeds over Brussels sprouts and toss, then spread out in 1 layer and roast until Brussels sprouts are crisp-tender and well browned in spots, about 10 minutes more.

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  • la domestique November 18, 2011,

    I love Brussels sprouts on the Thanksgiving table! I’ve never thought to pair them with caraway but it totally makes sense.

    • rivka November 18, 2011,

      Much as you’d eat sauerkraut with pastrami on rye, brussels and caraway are basically a mini-me of that pairing. Such a good combo.

  • Alissa - Not Just Apples November 30, 2011,

    Brussels done with caraway are one of my favourite autumn treats!

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