Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Pears and Shallots with Lemon Basil Dressing

Oh, hey there! I've got another perfect holiday side dish for you -Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pears, Shallots and a creamy Lemon Basil Dressing. The pears and shallots lend the perfect amount of sweetness and the creamy Lemon Basil Dressing adds a zing of freshness. For those who love bacon with your Brussels sprouts, I've made a batch of Smoky Crispy Coconut Bacon for a slightly sweet and salty crunch that'll keep you coming back for seconds!

First, let's sip our coffee and just admire this plant for a sec. Have you ever seen Brussels sprouts growing in the field or garden? They're even more alien-looking than this stalk I have soaking in a pitcher of water. Those stubby stems sticking out from the stalk are longer and have huge waxy leaves attached... certainly one of the stranger-looking cruciferous veggies!

The bigger question though is do you LOVE 'em or do you HATE 'em? If you're in the latter category (I spent YEARS there myself), here are a few tips and facts that might sway you to put them in your cart (or grow some yourself!):

🌱 they have a built-in anti-freeze system that kicks in when the temps drop to freezing or below, making them taste sweeter.

🌱 they also taste better when fully hydrated - the best way to do this is to purchase them on the stalk, cut the bottom inch off and soak them for several hours or overnight in a pitcher or bucket of water. Alternatively, cut a thin slice off the bottom of individual sprouts and soak them in water - this also washes away any residual dirt.

🌱 they are a potent source of sulforaphane, an important bioactive that communicates with your genes, specifically NrF2. However sulforaphane does not occur naturally, it must be created by the glucosinolates compounds present in this plant. This required the enzyme myrosinase.

🌱 myrosinase is sensitive to heat - to keep from destroying it (and thus getting very little sulforaphane), Brussels sprouts can either be eaten raw or chopped and left to sit for an hour or so, allowing myrosinase to convert glucosinolates to sulforaphane.

🌱 to maintain nutrients and bioactives, the best cooking methods are steaming or lightly sautéing. To save time, for this dish I'm giving them a quick roast so everything cooks at he same time on ONE sheet pan.

🌱 if you're ANCIENT like me, you may have noticed a much more pleasant taste to commercial Brussels sprouts than the ones you were forced to eat as a kid and just chalked it up to a good hard frost, better cooking or [eeeek!] bacon! Not necessarily the case...

🌱 back to glucosinolates... not only are these compounds wicked useful to us [research is abundant in health benefits associated with regular consumption], they are the plants natural defense system. If a pest starts to chew on the plant, myrosinase is activated, converting glucosinolates to sulforaphane, which acts as a bitter deterrent to insects and humans alike.

🌱 humans get in the way sometimes... in order to sell more Brussels sprouts, plant breeders have created varieties that contain far fewer glucosinolates. This may improve the taste but it's harder for the plant to protect itself and not as good for us.

🌱 bottom line... eat some not-so-sweet plants too AND learn a trick or two for how to improve their palatability and STILL reap some health benefits...This is where I come in... presenting you with my Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Pears and Shallots with Lemon Basil Dressing for another great way to give Brussels Sprouts a go.

So please stop giving Brussels sprouts the STINK EYE. Now let's get crackin', shall we?!


Total Time: 35-40 minutes Prep Time: 15 minutes Bake Time: 22-25 minutes

For 4-6 servings you'll need:

For the Brussels Sprout Mixture:

• 1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts (4 cups, halved)

• 2 medium pears

• 2 shallots or 1 small purple onion

• 1 Tbsp olive oil OR 2-3 Tbsp apple cider

• salt & pepper, to taste

For the Smoky, Crispy Coconut Bacon:

• 2 cups large flake unsweetened coconut

• 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil (optional)

• 2 Tbsp tamari

• 1 tsp Dijon mustard

• 2 Tbsp maple syrup

• 1/2 tsp liquid smoke, any flavor (I prefer mesquite)

• 1.5 tsp smoked paprika

• 1/2 tsp fine smoked salt

• 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Creamy Lemon Basil Dressing:

• ½ cup plain cashews soaked in hot water for 2 hrs, drained (save the water)

• ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp water (use the water the cashews were soaked in)

• ½ cup fresh basil leaves, washed & dried

• 1 head garlic, roasted @350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until tender OR 2 cloves raw garlic

• 1 large lemon, zest and juice

• ½ tsp cracked black pepper

• 1 tsp smoked salt or regular sea salt (optional)

• 1 Tbsp grainy or Dijon mustard (I prefer grainy mustard here)

• ¼ cup fortified nutritional yeast*

•1-2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

* Fortified nutritional yeast is a good source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12. Not all brands of nutritional yeast are fortified, so check the label carefully. Nutritional yeast also lends some body and flavor to this dressing but is not absolutely necessary.

The Process for the Brussels Sprout Mixture:

1. To me, the glucosinolates taste stronger if the Brussels sprouts are not fully hydrated when prepared. This is easiest to do if you purchase them on the stalk. Simply cut about an inch off the bottom of the stalk (remove the bottom sprouts if needed) and soak the stalk upright in a pitcher or bucket of water for a couple of hours of overnight. Alternatively, if you purchase them loose cut a sliver off the bottom and soak them in a sink or bowl of cold water.

2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut the hydrated Brussels sprouts in half (or quarters if they're huge) and toss them in a large bowl.

3. Wash and core the pears, cur into small bite-size pieces. Add them to the bowl with the Brussels sprouts.

4. Slice the shallot (or red onion) into rings, add these to the bowl too.

5. Add the oil OR apple cider. Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat.

6. If using apple cider instead of oil, line pans with parchment paper (or foil) or use a Silpat liner.

7. Spread evenly onto your baking sheet, single layer. Don't overcrowd the pan or you'll end up steaming everything and they won't end up caramelized and crisp (my sheet pan above is a little too crowded). For extra caramelization, flip each sprout so it's cut side down on the pan. It's better to use two sheet pans than to overcrowd. You want good air circulation so they cook quickly. Depending on your oven, the pan/s may need to be rotated.

8. Reduce heat to 400F and bake 22-25 minutes or until slightly crisp, browned on the bottom, and just tender in the center.

The Process for the Smoky, Crispy Coconut Bacon: (this version is adapted from The Minimalist Baker)

I've tried this recipe both with and without the liquid smoke (which I usually don't care for) and think this small amount of liquid smoke does make a difference in the final product. Either way it's delicious, but I think it tastes more like bacon with the liquid smoke included, just don't add any more than the half teaspoon (unless you really love this flavor).

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, toss to thoroughly coat.

2. Spread evenly onto a baking sheet, parchment paper is optional. Bake for 6 minutes, toss, then bake for another 5-7 minutes until evenly browned and crisp. Watch it carefully during that last couple of minutes to prevent burning (which can happen quickly!).

3. Cool for 10 minutes. It will become crispier as it cools.

4. If not using right away, cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer. If you're making this ahead, you may want to hide it... it's that good!

The process for the Creamy Lemon Basil Dressing:

1. Place all the ingredients in a high-powered blender. Blend until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

2. Use ice cubes or additional water to thin, if desired.

3. Makes about 1 cup.

4. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Notes: Flavor can be adjusted by adding more acid (lemon juice or vinegar), more or different herbs (try cilantro, parsley or dill), a soaked Medjool date for sweetness or dried spices (try cumin, coriander, white pepper, oregano or smoked paprika). Start with a small amount and increase if needed. Once you've squeezed the roasted garlic out, you can save the "wrapper" to make a flavorful broth. Refrigerate it for up to a few days or freeze it until you're ready to use it. For a sharper garlic flavor, swap out the head of roasted garlic for two raw garlic cloves. The possibilities are endless!

To Assemble:

Spoon the Brussels sprout mixture into a serving dish, drizzle with some of the dressing and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the Smoky Crispy Coconut Bacon. Serve with additional dressing and coconut bacon.

Nutrition information is for 1 cup of the Brussels sprout mixture, 2 Tbsp of dressing and 1.5 Tbsp of coconut bacon.

Be sure to show me what you make! Tag me #chefcatherinebrown - I LOVE seeing what you make!

DISCLOSURES: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products I use and trust.

NOTE: All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on A Seat at My Table so credit is given where credit is due. Thank you!

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