If you think you don’t like Brussels sprouts, let me tell you there’s a very good chance you are wrong. If you’re picturing frozen Brussels sprouts microwaved to mush, stop it. Stop it right now. And give bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts a try. When roasted in a hot oven, the fresh sprouts become tender, caramelized and even a little crispy on the edges with a sweetness you may not expect from a vegetable that can be bland, bitter and boring. When you add crispy bacon and sweet reduced balsamic vinegar, there are few vegetable side dishes I’d rather eat.
I’m pulling heavily from Ina Garten’s balsamic-roasted Brussels sprouts recipe here but with some key differences. I use bacon instead of pancetta, and I skip the olive oil. The bacon has enough fat once it renders in the oven that I find I don’t need another source. And I’ve never had a problem with these sticking to the pan either!
To turn this vegetable dish into a main course, I layer it on top of cheesy Parmesan polenta and top it with a fried egg, using a little extra balsamic reduction to help tie it all together. It would also pair well with a piece of roast chicken or pork if you’re so inclined.
Or, just make the bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts as a side. I especially like them with some chopped dried figs mixed in, which I’ve included as an optional ingredient.
A word about prep: I spend more or less time on the sprouts depending on how fresh they are. If they’re particularly fresh and green or white all over, I’ll just quickly slice them in half and add to the pan. If they’re showing signs of age (browning stems or wilting outer leaves), I’ll take the time to trim off the bottom of the stem and peel off the outer leaves before slicing in half. (Throw away any that are moldy.)
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
- 4 strips bacon, diced
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar reduction (purchase this prepared, or make your own by cooking 1/4 cup vinegar over medium heat in a small saucepan until it has reduced by half)
- 5-6 dried figs, sliced, optional (recommended if served as a side)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tbsp butter or oil
- Additional balsamic reduction
- Additional Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Make the polenta: Combine the cornmeal and water with a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium-low, cover and simmer until tender and thickened, about 40 minutes.Stir in the butter until melted. Turn off the heat and beat in the cheese until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, toss the Brussels sprouts and bacon together on a sheet pan with a little salt and black pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the sprouts are tender and caramelized and the bacon is cooked through. While still hot, toss with the balsamic reduction and figs, if using.
- Heat 1/2 tbsp butter or oil over medium heat in a small nonstick or cast iron pan. Add the eggs. Cover and cook over medium-low until the whites are cooked and the yolks are as runny or firm as desired.
- To serve, spoon polenta into two bowls and divide the Brussels sprouts over top. Place an egg on each bowl. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and garnish with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.
*Nutrition facts include egg, polenta and Brussels sprouts prepared without dried figs
For 2 servings of Brussels sprouts alone, prepared with figs: 167 calories per serving 19 g carbs 8 g protein 7 g fat