When we asked my kitchen-challenged friend if we could pick up anything from the grocery store for her, she asked for Brussels sprouts.
Of all things, she wanted Brussels sprouts.
Nothing in her fridge and freezer other than drinks and some frozen dinners, and she asks for Brussels sprouts?!
She explained that she loves to microwave them and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Delicious, she assured us.
My curiosity was piqued. I will confess, I have never had Brussels sprouts. My mom doesn’t like them so she never served them. Thus, I have never eaten them.
Some people may be tempted by elaborate cakes and cookies, whereas I am in a tizzy by new vegetables. There are so many (cruciferous) vegetables I have yet to try. Today is the the day to try something new.
I noticed a trend: people like their sprouts caramelized either through roasting or pan-frying. They like to be off-set with something sweet – caramelized onions or shallots, or even dried fruit, then finished with nuts for crunch. Usually served as a side, I wanted to beef them up as a main-course salad. Enter the lentils.
I based this dish off of my Mujaddara, which is a Middle Eastern dish lentil and rice dish with caramelized onions. I replaced the rice with caramelized roasted Brussels sprouts, omitted the cinnamon from the simmering lentils and added some toasted pecans. A simple warm salad that is more than the sum of its parts. The earthy lentils lend a base of the sweet yet earthy sprouts, contrasted by the sweet caramelized onions with a crunch from toasted pecans. And the Brussels sprouts? They taste like little dense cabbage. Sweet, after the roasting. I think I’ve found a new veggie friend. :)
Warm Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions and Brussels Sprouts
2 tsp oil, divided
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and cut in half if large
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch Aleppo chili flakes
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1. Preheat your oven to 425F.
2. Begin by caramelizing your onions: heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat (the oil is optional is you have a non-stick pan, actually), adding the onion and sauté, stirring all the while, over a high heat for about a minute. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking the onions for another 45 minutes, stirring them occasionally. You want them dark and caramelized.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, or in a silpat-lined oven-proof dish, toss the remaining 1 tsp olive oil with the Brussels sprouts, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chili flakes.
4. Roast Brussels sprouts in oven for 20-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to even the browning. When they are dark brown, they are finished.
5. While the onions are caramelizing and the sprouts roasting, add lentils to a medium pot and cover with 1″ of water (or vegetable broth). Bring to a boil, then simmer on low, covered, for 30-40 minutes. When ready, drain and set aside.
6. Meanwhile, toast your pecans in a small skillet over low heat until fragrant. Set aside.
7. When ready to eat, mix together the lentils, onions, and Brussels sprouts. Sprinkle with nuts.