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The Vegetable Diaries: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

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The Vegetable Diaries: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

There's a drawer in my kitchen that is full of bathing suits. Allow me to explain.

I'm not a "store-shoes-in-the-oven" kind of girl but, especially in this city, we're all a little tight on space. When I moved into my apartment, the tiny sliver of a drawer below my sink just screamed out to me, "swimwear should live here," and so they moved in too. For the most part, I forget that they are there, neatly folded and begging for sun. But, every few months, I'll go looking for that bigger wooden spoon or extra-side-towel, and open the drawer to find my bikinis and one-pieces glaring up at me like a tin of unwrapped sardines. I always get a good laugh, which seems reason enough to keep them in the spot, before closing things back up until the next time.

Many of my favorite seasonal recipes have that "bathing suits in a drawer" feeling. Out of context, they aren't in my regular kitchen rotation nor am I all that interested in eating them. But then, when their season arrives, they are perfectly fitting and all I can think about. If only all swimsuits were so kind.

Brussels sprouts are my favorite of the fall side-dishes. Roasted, pan-fried, steamed or even shredded and raw, I cook Brussels sprouts constantly from now through the holidays, at which point I retire them until the following year. And while these vegetables used to be dubbed as the low point of any table, restaurants and Internet recipes alike have played to their strengths in the past few years, allowing all of that negative hype to be forgotten.

I can think of a dozen ways I prepare this dish, but this recipe happens to be an easy crowd-pleaser. First you steam them for a few minutes in a pot and then finish them for a few more minutes on the stove. There are two very important steps in this particular recipe: get your pan VERY hot and then (after adding the sprouts) step away from the stove. This will not be easy. You will want to prod and poke your pan, an action that will not allow your vegetables to brown properly and for the vegetable's natural sugars to develop. So step back and wash your cutting board or dry some dishes.

On top of being delicious and easy to make, Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins A, C and E. They have also been shown to reduce inflammation and support digestive health.

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Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, washed and ends trimmed
1 clove garlic, gently crushed
Healthy glug of olive oil
salt and red-pepper flakes, to taste
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

DIRECTIONS

1. Place a steamer basket in a pot of shallow boiling water, add sprouts and cover, about 7-8 minutes. (note: you could also blanch the sprouts in a large pot of salted boiling water for roughly the same amount of time if you don't have a basket). Remove from heat when just fork-tender, allow to cool and slice in half, lengthwise.

2. In a large pan, heat olive oil, making sure it doesn't begin to smoke. Add garlic and a large pinch of red pepper flakes for a minute, until garlic is soft and fragrant.

3. Remove garlic from pan and add Brussels sprouts (you may have to do this in batches), cut side down, and a good pinch of salt. Step away from the pan as sprouts brown, about 4-5 minutes. Use tongs to flip sprouts and allow other side to brown, about 2-3 minutes.

4. Plate and sprinkle with coarse salt and extra red pepper, if you like. Serve with lemon wedges.
  

Mallory Stuchin, a native Manhattanite, is the food editor for joonbug.com. She is also a natural foods chef and has worked for Mario Batali. Her writing has previously been featured in The New York Observer, Glamour and Maxim, as well as other publications in New York and Los Angeles. Mallory has also studied Ashtanga yoga in Mysore, India and has taught classes at PURE Yoga and New York University. You can follow her on Twitter @malstuch.

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