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There are some things that just scream fall: pumpkins, pumpkin spice ANYTHING, colorful foliage, pumpkin farms (okay, pumpkins= fall), scarecrows, warm jackets, boots(!!), brussel sprouts… yes, brussel sprouts. It is this time of year you can buy them on the stalk at Trader Joe’s and they are such a yummy side-dish on any fall table.

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This year, I wanted to make my own version of brussel sprouts rather than go with a recipe (except for the cook time, that you take off recipes!). I even threw in candied bacon for your gastronomic pleasure, but I think they’re still plenty tasty without. If you want it super easy, omit the pepitas and the bacon but the dish in its entirety is a crowd-pleaser. I mean… who can say no to bacon?

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Candied bacon is ridiculously easy and, like, 95% of the work is done by the oven. Pepitas toast themselves in a pan- all you do is turn on the stove and hit it with some salt at the end. OMG, be careful should you choose to taste them before you add them to the final dish- I almost ate them all. It’s a good thing I had extra–! While I’m at it.. do the same with the bacon…extra is the name of the Thanksgiving game…

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This dish would be awesome at Thanksgiving. Don’t worry about the leaves that fall off the sprouts– those are the best part! They become crackly, salty chips that crunch just so. I think I left this batch a little longer in the oven just so I can get a few more crackly brussel sprouts chips! The outsides of the sprouts get all toasty brown while the insides are soft and almost creamy. The crunch of the pepitas and the sweet-salty loving of the bacon really bring it together.

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Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Pepitas and Candied Bacon

3 tablespoons raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds) (more if you want some to snack on!)
2 slices bacon
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 lb brussel sprouts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toast pepitas in a frying pan until they start turning golden brown. You might hear a few *pop pop* sounds as they toast. Hit ’em with a little bit salt, toss, and set aside to cool.

Season bacon with salt (not too much), bacon, and the brown sugar on both sides. Place into parchment-lined baking sheet and put into preheated oven. This will take anywhere from 25-40 minutes depending on your oven and the bacon. Flip them every 15 minutes and check for doneness. If you can get them on a greased rack on top of a sheet pan, that’ll save you the trouble having bacon cooking in burnt sugar like I did.

Once the bacon’s going, time to dress up the sprouts! Wash and halve them and toss them in a bowl. Add the oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Toss together to make sure the seasonings and oil coat the brussel sprouts. Pour into ovenproof skillet (I like the caramelization from my cast iron Lodge) or greased sheet pan. Pop into oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring them halfway to make sure all sides get yummy and caramelized.

When the bacon’s done, pull out the pan and let the bacon cool on some paper towels to soak up the extra grease. Crumble, chop, or cut the strips into little pieces.

When the brussel sprouts are done, take them out of the oven. add the toasted pepitas and candied bacon, throw in a little more salt and toss it all together. You can serve either in the cast iron skillet or in a more proper serving vessel.

Or, if you’re me, you just dump a bunch into a bowl and dig in!


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