Boy, do I love brussels sprouts. I’m only a little embarrassed to admit just how excited I get when they start popping up at the farmer’s market: “Oh. My. God...IT’S BRUSSELS SPROUT SEASON!” I proclaim to myself internally while simultaneously doing the Elaine dance, also internally, because the winter market is in a small space, and, in all of my excitement, I wouldn’t want a stray thumb landing in someone’s eye and subsequently getting banned from said market like the Seinfeld gang at the soup restaurant. That would not be cool. So, I try to keep it under wraps.
When it comes to cooking brussels sprouts, I tend to prefer them prepared very simply, and for me that means halving and roasting them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Occasionally, I take a walk on the wild side with the addition of a dried spice blend like za’atar or lemon pepper.
Which is why, when asked if I would bring brussels sprout pancakes as part of my vegetable side dish contribution to Thanksgiving last year, I was intrigued. Ryan’s grandma explained that she had seen them online somewhere and wanted to try them, but couldn’t relocate the exact recipe. She was able to provide ingredients and quantities along with some clues for their preparation, though they were rather nebulous and I was having some doubts. Nevertheless the pressure was on to nail them because her vegetable pancakes, typically carrot or zucchini, often grace the table at holiday meals and they are always a delight.
So there I was on the night before Thanksgiving with the dubious results of what I had to admit was a disappointment of a dish. I could not bring myself to throw away what I’d made in an act that would be the antithesis of the holiday, nor was I about to go back to the grocery store. This simply would not stand. Now, I should point out it’s not that they were bad, but they weren't good either. They really just needed a bit of help to realize and achieve their potential. For one thing, the instructions stated to thinly shred the sprouts. That was all well and good until I took a bite of one to test it and was left with strands of brussels sprout pancake innards dangling down my chin. Not quite the look I want to cultivate at a table surrounded by my significant other’s family. I mean, I’m comfortable around them, but not that comfortable.
I momentarily slipped into a fugue state thinking about how and why I’d waited til the last minute to attempt making them for the first time because of course this is what happens when you procrastinate. I finally snapped back to reality with a eureka moment having somehow accumulated several ideas for how to adjust and redeem. What I ended up with are these bright green stunners, which I’m happy to say made another appearance at Thanksgiving again this year, and at many other points in between. I serve them with a simple dill sauce, and lately I’ve been thinking they’d be great as an hors d'oeuvre for holiday parties by dressing them up with the addition of smoked salmon, trout roe, or beluga lentils.
In cooking, as in life, there are sometimes moments that seem irrevocably disastrous—and some are—but there are also many that can be fixed with some practical knowledge along with a bit of determination to follow things through, trust in your intuition, and have patience with yourself. That sounds like the kind of saying I’d find on the tag of one of my Yogi tea bags, which, by the way I actually like and find to be inspirational and heartfelt. What can I say? I’m a sentimental person.
Brussels Sprout Pancakes
Yield: 35-40 pancakes, 3" in diameter
*Note: Moderating the heat of your pan can be tricky as stoves and pans vary. If the heat is too low the pancakes won’t brown properly and will absorb the oil. If the heat is too high the oil will smoke, splatter when you add the batter, and the pancakes will burn. The good news is by the time you’re done with this recipe you should have a feel for how to moderate your heat when you’re cooking. It’s just one of those things you learn by doing.
Well hello! I'm Kat, and
I'm always either cooking or thinking about what I want to cook next. For me, food is always about so much more than just my next meal. This is a place for sharing stories and recipes from a life lived through the lens of food...