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Did you always have a problem eating your Brussels sprouts? They look like a miniature cabbage, can smell like feet and is too often boiled into a bitter, soggy mess.
And who wants to eat a bitter soggy mess?
But Brussels can be glorious when properly cooked. And they are a nutritional dynamo containing vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fiber and they help protect against colon cancer. Boiling them not only reduces the level of cancer-fighting compounds but turns this delicate veggie into rubber. So steam, roast, sauté or caramelize them like I did in this Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Chicken Sausage and Pasta recipe.
Brussels can be glorious when properly cooked
When picking Brussels sprouts, pick those that feel tightly compacted and hard when you squeeze them. I like the smaller sprouts as they tend to be sweeter-tasting, while larger sprouts are more cabbage-like. You can buy sprouts on or off the stem, they are equally good, and they will keep for several weeks in the fridge.
Just beware if they are charging “per pound” when you buy on the stem, as the stem has the majority of the weight.
To prepare Brussels, trim off the dry part of the stem at the base of the sprout and any loose outer leaves. You can leave the sprouts whole, slice them in half, or even shred them for a salad or hash. I love them roasted and caramelized as they are in this recipe.
I used Orecchiette (little ears) pasta in this dish because I like the way it holds the pieces of Brussels sprouts inside the curve of the shell, giving each bite a bit of the caramelized goodness. You could substitute a shell or fusilli type of pasta for the same effect.
Cook the sausage over medium heat until browned. Slice the sausage on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.
In a large saute pan, bring 2 cups water with a bit of salt to a boil; add the Brussels and blanch for 2 minutes; drain well. Dry the pan.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the saute pan over medium heat; add the Brussels and saute until beginning to brown, about 10 - 15 minutes; add the remaining oil and the garlic along with the red pepper flakes; continue to cook until the Brussels and garlic are lightly caramelized. Add the cheese and toss with the vegetables; add the orecchiette along with the sausage slices; saute until all is hot and well combined; adding some pasta water if it seems too dry. Serve with additional cheese to pass, if desired.
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