Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts & Pearl Onions

Roasted Balsamic Brussel Sprouts & Pearl Onions I Pretty Little Pastimes

I’ll be honest that Brussels sprouts were on the list of green veggies that I tried my very best to stay away from growing up. My mom didn’t care for them, so I got out easy. That is until a good friend of mine (a James Beard nominated chef that doesn’t take no for an answer) decided I was not going one more day without trying one. She made me a plate and I reluctantly tried the tiny little cabbage-looking vegetable I feared. Like many foods she has proved me wrong about, the Brussels sprouts were more than just eatable, they were tasty! I wanted to share my version of Roasted Brussels Sprouts hoping that it might inspire a few more you to give them a try.

When shopping for Brussels sprouts, look for the smallest, freshest you can find. These tend to be sweeter and more tender than larger ones. Before cooking, trim the stems and discard any damaged or discolored leaves. Next, cut the sprouts in half (lengthwise); this will speed up the cooking time. Blasting the halved sprouts in a hot oven will caramelize the edges and bring out their sweetness. It also significantly shrinks them, so don’t be surprised when you pull them out of the oven!

I decided to add pearl onions to this dish, because I just love their subtly-sweet onion flavor, especially when paired with balsamic. To prepare the onions for roasting, soak them in warm water for 5 minutes. Remove the onions and discard the skin and trim the roots.

Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts & Pearl Onions

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1/2 pound pearl onions, trimmed
  • 2 ounces hot capicola (or pancetta), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss all ingredients together and spread out in an even layer on a baking pan. I always line my pan with parchment paper for easy clean up, but if you don’t reserve a little warm water to deglaze the pan at the end. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20-25 minutes or until the sprouts are brown on the edges and tender, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Roasted Balsamic Brussel Sprouts & Pearl Onions I Pretty Little Pastimes

These roasted Brussels sprouts will make a wonderful sweet and spicy side dish to add to your dinner. I am definitely thankful that I was coaxed forced to try them. Enjoy!

Garlic & Leek Smashed Red Potatoes

Garlic & Leek Mashed Red Potatoes I Pretty Little Pastimes

If you like potato and leek soup, you will love these garlic and leek smashed red potatoes! We have a list of staple starch side dishes in our house which include potatoes, rice and orzo, but I have been experimenting more and more with new variations on old favorites.

We saw these fresh leeks while wandering around the produce section earlier this week and added them to our rapidly filling cart. If you haven’t cooked with leeks, keep in mind that they are in the same family as garlic and onions, but have a sweeter flavor. Unlike garlic and onions, there is no bulb on a leek and everything other than the root and stem base is edible, although most avoid the dark green section. Leeks are a good source of Vitamins A, B6, C and K, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and fiber. They can be eaten raw, steamed, baked or sautéed, but avoid boiling as they will lose a majority of their nutrients.

Before working with leeks, rinse them well; dirt may be stuck between the tight leaves. Then trim the root and stem. I choose to only trim about an inch from the darkest green end of the leek, since most of the nutrients are found in the green section. Now they are ready!

Garlic & Leek Smashed Red Potatoes

  • 1 pound red potatoes
  • 4 strips pancetta (optional), chopped
  • 1 large leek
  • 3 garlic cloves (or to taste)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup milk (or soymilk)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chives to garnish

Garlic & Leek Smashed Red Potatoes I Pretty Little Pastimes

In a medium saucepan cover potatoes with water and generously season with salt. Bring to boil and let simmer for 15 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.

While the potatoes are cooking slice the rinsed leeks into thin rings. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the leeks are softened, about 7 minutes, adding the pancetta halfway through.

Garlic & Leek Mashed Red Potatoes I Pretty Little Pastimes

Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl with half of the milk (1/8 cup) and the 2 tablespoons of butter. Using a potato masher, mash and add the additional milk by the tablespoon, until potatoes reach desired consistency. Fold in the leek mixture and season with salt and pepper. Top with freshly chopped chives and serve warm.

These potatoes are a great twist on a very simple recipe. The addition of the garlic and fresh leeks give these potatoes some new life. They make a great side for countless main dishes, plus they heat up well the next day … if you have any left over! Enjoy!

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