November 3, 2009

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Lemon & Olive Oil {Naptime Entertaining}

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts | The Naptime Chef If last fall you had told me that Gwyneth Paltrow would give me a great recipe for Brussel Sprouts I would have rolled me eyes. At the time she, an accomplished actress and protective mother, was easily the last person I would’ve turned to for cooking advice.

Then, last November, I subscribed to Gwyneth’s website, GOOP, and started watching a her PBS mini-series, only to realize that she actually does know how to navigate a kitchen and feed her family. So here I am, a year later, preaching the word of Gwyneth’s Caramelized Brussels Sprouts. Proving that great recipes can come from the most unexpected sources, I have her recipe on permanent repeat in my household. It is the most simple and delicious preparation for a vegetable, that, prior to her guidelines, was not exactly one of my favorites.

All of us have a lame claim to fame of some kind. Have you ever spotted a celebrity at an airport or nearby Starbucks? Or, do you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows Julia Roberts’ former assistant? We all can play Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon in one way or another, associating ourselves with the Hollywood elite. So, here is my lame claim to fame: I went to camp with Gwyneth Paltrow. No, we weren’t bunk-mates, or even friends. In fact, her cousin was a good friend of mine and our second year at camp she announced that Gwyneth wasn’t returning because she was making a movie in Texas with Dennis Quaid and would soon be famous. Nobody believed her. But we should have.

Brussels Sprouts
I haven’t seen Gwyneth since our Vermont summers, but I do read her website. And, although our lives couldn’t be more different these days, I am pleased to see that we still have a few things in common. When it comes to cooking I enjoy her menu ideas and the thoughtfulness she puts into feeding her family. I especially appreciate her choice to lead by example, reminding us to enjoy a great roast chicken, but make it organic, please.

Gwyneth probably has the full-time childcare, but I doubt that means she has unlimited time in the kitchen to cook. I am sure, like all parents, she understands the need to make tasty food in an efficient manner, and might even do a lot of her cooking during her children’s afternoon naptimes. Her recipes written clearly with simple instructions for getting the most flavor from the ingredients. For example, her straightforward brussels sprouts recipe is wonderfully delicious and a snap to make. I had no problem preparing these during my daughter’s naptime, and found them just as easy to cook, from start to finish, at dinnertime.

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts | The Naptime Chef
What I like about this recipe is that its simplicity lets the true flavor of the vegetable shine. Unlike a lot of fall vegetable recipes, there is no mention of baking anything in cream or cheese, it is just about quality olive oil, salt and lemon. Come to think of it, those are my three most favorite flavor enhancers which is probably why I enjoy these so much. When these are simmering in the skillet the sprouts become perfectly tender with delicious crispy edges. They are finished off with a nice dip in a pool of yummy olive oil and sea salt, then with a quick a drizzle of lemon. This method does a great job of enhancing the vegetable flavor without overshadowing it. While I doubt I’ll be bumping into Gwyneth at our camp reunions, I will continue to read her recipes and make more of her dishes. With these sprouts she has proved to me that she knows what she is doing, and I look forward to reading, and eating, more.


Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Olive Oil

adapted from GOOP


2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, trimmed
½ c. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 t. Sea Salt
1 lemon, halved


1. Trim sprouts and steam them in a steamer basket, or the microwave. If steaming over boiling water, do this for about 8 minutes, or until sprouts are tender.
2. Remove sprouts from the steamer basket and cut in half lengthwise. Then coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and nestle the sprouts, cut side down, the pan over medium heat. Allow the sprouts to cook for about 5 minutes. Do not turn them over! Make sure the bottoms are evenly browned and crisped. Then, turn them all over and cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Remove sprouts from pan and drizzle them with a bit more olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and squeeze half the lemon over top. Note: If you have made these during naptime then allow them to cool before placing them in the fridge. Then reheat them at dinner!

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

This is a simple recipe that is hard to mess up. I’ve experimented with adding some spices to these and it works well. Feel free to see what else you think might taste good added the dish, I’ll be there are some great variations.

Naptime Stopwatch

I have found that I can get these onto the table in 20 minutes or less. I also make the during naptime and reheat them at dinner. They are so simple and easy, it is hard not to add this to your weekly menu.

Naptime Reviews

I’ll admit, I have not yet converted my toddler to Brussels Sprouts, but my husband enjoyed these. I’ll have to keep working on my daughter, but I’m sure she’ll come around eventually.