Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds

A friend of mine recently bemoaned her crowded fridge—lined with beautiful, if overly abundant pomegranates, twelve in all, accumulated over weeks of deliveries.  She wondered what could be done with so much fruit.  I described our battle plan.  We’d been dumping the perky seeds into all manner of salads, slowly and steady.  It had become a nearly nightly ritual.  A tasty one.

Recently I’ve branched out beyond the salad bowl though.  Turns out pomegranate seeds are one of those secret, unexpected culinary weapons with their hint of sweet-tart flavor and tiny, juice-splattering crunch.  They shake our taste buds up a bit, in a new and different way (though admittedly in many cultures they are nothing new at all).  We sprinkle them over a rice pilaf or stir with earthy whole-grain farro and roasted sweet potatoes.  Or skip the grains entirely and simply top the roasted veggies on their own—the spiced sweet potatoes and kale, or alternatively roasted seasonal faves like cauliflower, beets, broccoli or carrots.  Sometimes we add toasted nuts and a handful of chopped herbs if we feel inclined.  A squeeze of lemon.

This version of the roasted veggie-pomegranate partnership features brussel sprouts—the infamous brassica siblings that rank high on many personal least-favorite-food lists (some of the list scribblers dwell in this household).  We’ve found that a turn in a hot oven is the perfect treatment for these sometimes bitter green rounds.  Caramelized flavors show off the brussel sprout’s best side, in a way that even children and the pickiest eaters warm to. One more reason why roasting is my go-to technique.  Oh, and if you don’t have a Meyer lemon on hand, no worries, simply substitute ordinary lemon juice and zest instead.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds and Toasted Walnuts

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pounds (give or take) brussel sprouts, rinsed and halved
  • 1 medium onion, halved and cut into 1/4 inch wide wedges
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup raw, shelled walnuts
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  •  1 Meyer lemon

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place brussel sprouts and onions each on a separate baking sheet.  Toss vegetables with oil to just lightly coat, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper and spread evenly across the baking sheets in a single layer.  Cover brussel sprouts with a sheet of foil then place into the oven (this prevents the leafy layers from drying out as they cook).  Place sheet of onion in the oven too.  Roast each until tender, turning the vegetables once or twice during cooking.  The onions and brussel sprouts may be done at different times.  Check sprouts after 20 minutes, by poking with a fork.  Onions will look soft and slightly browned around the edges when done.
  2. Meanwhile place nuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat.  Toast until they are fragrant and a few shades darker in color.  Turn and shake the pan frequently as the nuts cook to avoid scorching—unwatched nuts love to burn if you let them.  Cool, then roughly chop.
  3. Zest the clean and dry lemon.  A fine grater or Microplane zester/grater (a most treasured tool—and great holiday gift for any cook) works well for this.  Then juice the lemon.  You’ll only need some of it, so refrigerate what you don’t use.
  4. When vegetables are done roasting, place in a serving bowl with nuts, pomegranate seeds, lemon zest, and lemon juice to taste. Stir gently to combine.   Add salt and freshly ground pepper as needed and stir once more.
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