I love, love, love Brussel Sprouts!!!
Over the years, I have earned a tasty reputation for roasting a bushel of this vegetable and eating the entire pan before it makes it to the dinner table. For this reason alone, I always buy more than I will need for dinner: a pan for the table and a pan for me. Other than boiling or braising them, I cook Brussel Sprouts in a multitude of ways and with a multitude of seasonings. I urge everyone I know to try them and there is a good chance that, if I invite you for dinner during Autumn or Winter, Brussel Sprouts will grace the dinner table. People with horrible childhood memories of boiled, frozen, and water-logged Brussel Sprouts will turn their nose up.
I will charmingly encourage you to eat them. And… You will eat them… and you may even fall in love with them – too.
Simple roasted Brussel Sprouts – 400-degree oven, olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper; for 40 minutes – are my favorite. However, Brussel sprouts can easily lend themselves to sautéing with olive oil, lemon zest and cracked black pepper; stir-frying with vegetable oil, crushed garlic, crushed ginger, chili flakes, and soy sauce; or shredded and tossed in a hot pan with rendered bacon fat, fresh thyme, and topped with crumbled bacon. You can also eat them raw in salads; but, only the very fresh and small ones, which are very sweet.
Brussel Sprouts pop up in South Florida farmers’ markets in late October. Markets usually keep a steady supply until right after the Valentine’s Day if the farmers had a good crop. You want to look for vegetables that are nice and compact with tight leaves and no brown, yellow, or black spouts on the leaves. Sometimes, you can find them still on their growing stalks, which seems like a novel idea, because you can “pick” your own Brussel Sprouts when you get home. Just be sure that the stalk has a set price and does not require weighing before selling. After all, you are not going to eat the stalk, why pay for it.
Last week, I decided on a Brussel Sprout Pizza for a casual Winter dinner. (Having the oven blasting at 500 degrees seemed appropriate for the recent 40-degree temperatures that hit South Florida.) Crispy sweet Brussel Sprouts, salty-sharp Asiago cheese, deeply caramelized onions, and fresh thyme sprigs all convene on top of my homemade pizza crust. I am sure you will not find this kind of pizza at your local pizzeria… unless it is a locally owned, independently run pizza joint whose owners relish seasonal eating. Until then…
NOTE: To make a great pizza at home, buy a pizza stone. They are not very expense, less than $20, and once you place then in the bottom of your oven, you can leave it there forever. When it’s time for pizza, just heat the oven with the pizza stone inside… place your pie on the heated stone to cook for some of the best bubbly, charred, and crunchy pizza crust from your oven at anytime. Now on to the recipe.
My Recipe: BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND ASIAGO PIZZA makes 1 large pizza
1 portion pizza dough, recipe below
1 c Asiago cheese, shredded
½ c Mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 – 3 c fresh Brussel Sprouts, ends trimmed and shredded
4 yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 garlic glove, finely minced
3 T olive oil, separated
1 whole thyme sprig
1 t thyme leaves
cracked black pepper
Place pizza stone on the lowest rack of your oven (and leave it there); crank the oven to 500-degrees
Make pizza dough (it will need to rise for an hour, which provides plenty of time to caramelize the onions)
Add 1 T of olive oil to a medium pan; add onion, 1 thyme sprig, and garlic; sauté over medium heat until onion is deeply caramelized and richly brown,
approximately 40 minutes
Remove pan from heat; discard thyme sprig; and allow onions to cool to touch Sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel of cookie sheet; stretch one portion of the pizza dough to a 12” circle, or square, or something that looks like an amoeba (in my case); set on top of cornmeal, this will help move the uncooked pizza in and out of the oven
Brush the dough with one tablespoon of olive oil; scatter the caramelized onion over the dough; sprinkle Asiago and Mozzarella cheese over the onions In a mixing bowl; toss the shredded Brussel sprouts with the remaining olive oil, thyme leaves, kosher salt, and black pepper; sprinkle on top of the cheese in a single layer to allow Brussel sprouts to roast evenly onto of the pizza
Carefully place pizza directly on the pizza stone and bake for 15 – 18 minutes; until cheeses are bubbly, Brussel sprouts are charred; and pizza dough is crusty
Pizza dough freezes really well. After rising, wrap dough securely in plastic wrap and a freezer bag and freeze. When ready for use, defrost in the refrigerator; and proceed to make pizza. You may be able to buy some pizza dough form a local pizzeria; but do try to refrain from using any dough in the freezer section of the market which will have many preservatives and can taste like cardboard. Do not cheapen your select toppings with cheap frozen pizza dough.
My Recipe: PIZZA DOUGH makes 2 large crust
1 ¼ c warm water
2 ¼ t dry yeast
1 T sugar
2 T olive oil
1 T kosher salt
3 ½ c unbleached bread flour
In a large mixing bowl, combine ¼ c warm water, yeast, and sugar; stir to dissolve; and let stand for 5 minutes (allowing the yeast to proof by becoming foamy)
Stir in remaining warm water; olive oil; salt; and 1 ½ c flour; stir until very smooth; add 1 ½ c flour and stir until dough starts to pull away form the side of the bowl; forming a scraggly ball
Sprinkle remaining ½ c flour onto a work surface; turn dough out of bowl; and need for about 10 – 12 minutes until dough becomes smooth and elastic
Alternately, use a stand mixer and knead the dough with a dough hook for 8 – 10 minutes Form dough into a ball; place into a greased bowl, coating all sides; and cover; allow to rise in a warm area for an hour, until dough has doubled in size Punch dough down; turn onto a lightly floured surface; cut into two equal pieces; and allow to rest for 15 minutes
Proceed to make pizza
After our first successful attempt at this pizza, we tried one with bacon. And while most bacon-aficionados will tell you that everything taste better with bacon; this pizza did not. In fact, the bacon offered nothing more than an extra step in the process. So take advantage of the limited time only Brussel sprouts and enjoy them in every way possible… even on pizza!
always in good T.A.S.T.E – cause you gottatastethis!