Let’s face it.
The humble brussels sprout in all its pudgy glory has become the darling veg of our generation.
What was once boiled to indistinguishable mush & slopped onto plates with a whiff of resentment and lost hopes has risen like no veg ever before.
I like to think of Sprouts as the kid who grew up on the bad side of town. Youngest of eight, single mom with tobacco stained fingernails worked double shifts at the local diner, dad left years ago when Sprouts was a wee babe. You know the story.
And Sprouts is small and round for his age and gets picked on by the snobby Asparagus crowd because his sneakers are hand-me-downs and his sweaters are baggy — and not in the cool way.
But Sprouts has a dream.
Sprouts is gonna be somebody. So Sprouts gets a job as a dishwasher and learns things from the line cooks and works his way up. Every night he gets out of work right as the sun comes up, but Sprouts doesn’t care. He knows he’s on his way.
Years later Sprouts is head pastry chef — with opportunity to travel, money to help out his arthritic mother, and chefs vying to give him a position at all the hot new gastrojoints. But Sprouts marches to his own drum.
He returns to his hometown and opens his own place. He’s the man of the moment. His beautiful pastry creations are different and delicious and the instahordes scramble to snap them up because they sell out every day before 11am.
And that is Sprouts. He never forgets his humble beginnings. And although he can make some serious flavor combo magic ~ a little butter and lemon is secretly his favorite.
But you don’t need a butter and lemon recipe. Sprouts has taken care of that already. These za’atar roasted brussels sprouts are jazzy but still simple. A few key ingredients that heavily lean on Middle Eastern flavors and shine with lots of texture.
Za’atar Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate & Pistachio
- 1-1.5 pounds brussels sprouts trimmed and halved
- 2 shallots thinly sliced
- 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme destemmed
- 1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds from about half a fruit
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- small handful pistachios coarsely chopped
- 1-2 tsp za’atar spice plus more for sprinkling
- pomegranate molasses for drizzling
- kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper
- olive oil (or bacon fat if you’ve got it) for sprouts
Preheat oven to 425*. Keep a pan in upper third rack so it gets extra hot for good sprouts browning.
Toss the sprouts, shallot, and thyme in a bowl with salt and pepper.
Once the oven is hot, add a good slick of oil to the pan and put it back in the oven for another minute for the oil to heat up too.
Then plop the sprouts in, cut side down if you want to be compulsive about life, and let them roast their little butts off for 15 minutes — until they’ve caramelized and the leaves are crispy.
Sprinkle sprouts with the za’atar, coating well.
At this point I’d suggest you move them to the plate so you can finish it and keep it all pretty.
Once on the serving dish, scatter the pomegranate, scallion, and pistachios over the whole business.
Swirl generous swoops of pomegranate molasses over the plate, a last pinch of sea salt, and serve.
- Serve this as a side with Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon Scallion Crumble or Candy Apple Pork Belly and people just might fall in love with you. I know I would.
- Za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of herbs mainly comprised of sumac, dried thyme, sesame seeds, and sometimes cumin, aleppo, and family secrets. Get it and use it on everything from roast chicken to popcorn. You can buy it at good spice stores or make your own blend.
- Pomegranate molasses is one of my absolute favorite condiments to cook with. It’s tart and syrupy and has a really strong backbone that stands out in a crowd. Nowadays you can find it at any main grocery store. If you’re looking for more pomegranate-y sauced goodness check out Easy Fried Sweetbreads with Sticky Pomegranate.