brussels sprouts with hazelnuts

Brussels sprouts? Why does it always sound like brussel sprouts? Must be a conversational word contraction like the French are always doing. Which is one of the languages they speak in Brussels (Bruxelles). Where we discovered Le Pain Quotidien, a delightful Belgian bakery/deli chain that also has stores in NYC. And which is actually responsible for developing this veggie about the same time as the US Constitution arrived on the scene, which by the way has been taking a real beating lately as the third millennium gets going.

These are actually cabbages (Chou de Bruxelles in French), which is a food family not high on bob's list of favorites. Brussels sprouts we like though. This is a veggie which has not gotten its proper level of respect in the American kitchen, and undeservedly so since these little green balls are packed with nutrients. They just need a little something to accent their flavor. We'd experimented with this enhancement before, but not until this recipe find from a supermarket checkout line food mag impulse buy did we hit the right combination, and without inflicting any dead animal essence on the dish as almost happened from the competing recipe using prosciutto bits which just happened to be waiting for some imaginative end in our refrigerator from one of our recent trips to the newly opened Trader Joe's on the Main Line. Bob considered merging the two recipes but was emphatically overruled by the guest cook Nora up from Baltimore for Thanksgiving week. Okay, we deferred. Just hazelnuts, which is our favorite cooking nut.

We lowered the bad fats a bit by shifting the butter-to-oil ratio from 4/1 to 2/3 and if you trust Mario Batali who says he never uses butter in cooking since "olive oil rules", then you can go all the way to 0/5. And the original recipe called for roughly chopped pecans but admitted that hazelnuts were a good substitution that had been used by the author, so hazelnuts it was. Crumbed though. A little bit of food anarchy we could not suppress.

Nora was right of course. This was terrific. We did it again on Thanksgiving Day. A great side with the mushroom stuffing. We will probably be doing this frequently. Who needs a holiday to eat well?


1/4 cup recipe ready hazelnuts, crumbed
1 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 T butter
3 T olive oil
1 small to medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
freshly ground black pepper, salt to taste


  1. We got two 1 lb bags of brussels sprouts, that trimmed up to 1 1/2 lb after removing the outer leaves. Cut an "X" into the base with a knive to help cook the toughest part. Steam these until tender to retain nutrients instead of boiling in salted water like the food mag said.
  2. Remove from heat and when you can handle them, slice them all in half lengthwise.
  3. Meanwhile heat the butter and oil together and sauté the onion, stirring often, until softened and golden, about 5 minutes.
  4. Press in the garlic, toss around a bit being sure not to burn this delicate addition, then dump in the brussels sprouts and the hazelnut crumbs, and stir around, continuing to cook them another 5 minutes or so.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.


  1. Saveur Cooks, Winter 2003, p.59: sauteed brussels sprouts with pecans.
  2. The unmade competing recipe was Cooking Light, December 2003, brussels sprouts with prosciutto by Joanne Weir, p.120.
  3. Illustrations available.
brslspts.htm: 18-aug-2006 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]