I find going to the grocery store hungry a lot like going to the bookstore. Leaving without buying anything doesn’t happen. For instance, before I know it I am walking out of Half Price Books with a copy of Tender at the Bone, even though I have no idea who Ruth Reichl is, a fact I will soon be glad I have rectified; and an extra copy of East of Eden, because this one has torn pages and I can’t help but love reading from a book with torn pages – the texture makes the book feel as rich as its words. Or I might leave Safeway with brussel sprouts, which I’ve never had before, but they’re something new and they are on-sale; and a loaf of ciabatta.It’s dangerous ground, those bookstores and grocery stores. Hunger’s inspiration isn’t such a bad thing though. Sometimes it leads to fabulous descriptions like Reichl’s carrot soup:
With the first sip I knew that I had never really eaten before. The initial taste was pure carrot, followed by cream, butter, a bit of nutmeg. Then I swallowed and my whole mouth and throat filled with the echo of a rich chicken stock. I took another bite and it began all over again. I ate as if in a dream (65).
For a mere $5.98 at Half Price Books, I will eat this soup again and again.
However, impulse buys sometimes take a nasty turn. For example Safeway’s version of Pomegranate Italian Soda, tastes a lot like cough syrup. Brussel sprouts, on the other hand, were a great purchase. I had learned as a child these little green balls were disgusting. I assume I learned this through osmosis though, because I had no facts to base this on. Now I think the adult world is pulling one over on the kids. The ruse leaves more for me though, so no complaints here.
My first go at brussel sprouts included braising them with onions and bacon. It was delicious. I was sold. Then came the recommendation from a high school friend of mine, Miss Kegel. I am in debt to her for pointing me to Ina Garten’s recipe for Roasted Brussel Sprouts. With a little tweaking of my own, and a lot of nights of brussel sprout dinners, I have landed on my favorite version of Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts. Uping Ina’s oven temp and lowering the cook time creates a crispier outside, while maintaining some texture in the middle. These sprouts give French fries a run for their money when I generously sprinkle them with salt.
Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts
This recipe is cheaper than Ina’s version, for your waistline and your pocket book, by cutting back on the olive oil and using cooking spray as specified here.
1 lb brussel sprouts
Non-stick cooking spray
1½ TBS olive oil
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/3 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Trim brussel sprout stems, removing any discolored ends and yellow leaves. Discard all loose leaves as well.
Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Toss brussel sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, shaking pan from time to time so they brown evenly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with more salt to taste. I like them on the salty side, like Ina recommends. Serve immediately.