Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Loads of Lemon and Dill is the simplest one-pan winter side dish. Ever. And, these vibrantly coloured flavour bombs are so good you might want to make a whole batch just for you! Otherwise they are perfect for the holiday table, or with any meal.
Where my buttery whole roasted black garlic cauliflower might have got you thinking about cruciferous vegetables in a new way, this quickie recipe is back to basics. Just five or six ingredients, and about 10 minutes, is all that separates you and a whole pan of feisty, lemony, dilly deliciousness. It truly is more than the sum of its parts.
I know that, at least here in the UK, roast potatoes get all the side dish glory. But, once you’ve filled up on those crusty golden tubers, spear a few of these tender, buttery mini wedges of green and feel a teensy bit virtuous.
Health benefits of Brussels sprouts
I recommend a serving of dark leafy greens per day for the following reasons:
Steamed sprouts are super low in calories: a 80 gram serve is only 34 calories. But that’s not why to love them. Love them because they are delicious when wisely prepared (ahem, this recipe), versatile (breakfast, curries, soup, super side, gratin, casserole, shredded in salads, etc) and incredibly nutritious.
One serving of Brussels sprouts meets our RDA for vitamins C, K and A, as well as a quarter for Vitamin E and folic acid. In these tight bright green packages we also get a good whack of calcium, manganese, potassium and phosphorus, aaaand a good slug of energy-giving B vitamins.
From a cancer prevention and cancer-fighting perspective one phytonutrient stands out: glucosinolates. These are sulfur-containing molecules (what makes sprouts and cabbages a bit smelly) that when chewed are well on their way to turning into isothiocynates in the gut. Activated isothiocynate compounds, as well as the fiber in sprouts, are considered very “anticancer” on numerous levels. Find out more by reading this abstract from a recent article in the scholarly journal, Antioxidant.
And, did you know that stir frying is one of the healthiest ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts? Same with all of the dark leafy greens. Boiling is the worst (no shock there). Eating Brussels sprouts with a heavy festive meal – even if you use butter – helps add beneficial nutrients and fiber. And fats help us to absorb numerous nutrients locked inside these mini cabbages. Read more about the benefits of eating Brussels sprouts here.
Buying and cooking tips for Brussels sprouts
Buy in season. Keep prep to a minimum. Enjoy soon after prep.
1. Brussels sprouts grow well in temperate countries, like the UK and The Netherlands, from October to March. Picking up a stalk or bag of them in these months keeps food miles low and nutrition in tact. Flying foods around the world, no matter whether or not they are organic, will denature any of the water-soluble nutrients somewhat. Deterioration will compound further if the sprouts take any knocks or bruises.
2. I know the ones I’ve used in today’s recipe are a bit on the big side, but generally small Brussels sprouts cook quicker, and may be a little sweeter. I got round the cooking issue by quartering mine. Even small ones – unless very tiny – should be halved. Keep whole ones for roasting and braising.
3. Whether big or small, the bright green leaves of Brussels sprouts should be tightly closed. If there are some yellow or damaged leaves – but the rest looks fine – just remove them with a knife.
4. If you can get ones on the stalk itself – quite the best way to buy them – you may store them in a dry, dark and cool place for a couple of weeks and enjoy “freshly picked” sprouts into the New Year. That’s what I did last year. I placed the sprout-loaded stem in an open weave bag, and hung it from a rafter in my garage. It lasted several weeks, and I enjoyed them throughout the festive season. Even for breakfast!
5. The cardinal sin of Brussel sprouts cooking is over cooking them. Unless you are making them in a gratin, with a heavy blanket of gorgonzola or other strong smelly cheese, keep the cooking short and sweet. Cooking more than a few minutes is what gives rise to the dreaded school dinner aroma. I know of no one that likes mushy, pongy sprouts.
6. There is no need to cut an “x” at the stem base. It really doesn’t do anything other than add an extra step to cooking. If boiling sprouts (please don’t, by the way) this just allows more water into the vegetable. In this recipe you will be halving or quartering so the x-making step is not an issue.
7. Lastly, serve cooked Brussels sprouts right away.
Variations on Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Loads of Lemon and Dill
I’ve kept things incredibly simple for this recipe. Sprouts are one of the vegetables I don’t recommend getting too fancy with. Not even for the holiday table. But there are some other easy and quick tweaks that can be made. Think nuts, cheese and breadcrumbs!
For the below suggestions, keep the cooking method the same – stir frying.
1. Add slivered almonds, chopped walnuts or pine nuts – all toasted in hot pan or oven until golden
2. Add crumbles of Roquefort, or other strong blue cheese; or even vintage Cheddar
3. Add an 1/8th of a teaspoon of ground cardamom when stir frying.
4. Add chopped chestnuts to the pan while the sprouts are cooking
5. Add crumbled cooked bacon (I like cooked tempeh bacon from Tofurky)
6. Throw in some salty, pan-crisped capers.
7. Brown some “old” sourdough or other bread crumbs in butter or olive oil for a crisp topping
8. If you aren’t doing the butter thing, toss in a lemon and dill vinaigrette, showering with more fresh dill when serving.
9. Why not use nutritional yeast instead of added cheese, or instead of butter? This would make it even more nutritious. And vegan!
9. You can even slice the Brussels sprouts thinly and toss them with lemon, extra virgin olive oil, fresh dill and maybe some chopped apple for a raw and uber-fresh take. This might be great with Boxing Day (December 26) leftovers. Or you might want to rustle up this Winter Slaw or Pear and Cranberry Slaw .
Similar recipe: Smoky Brussel Sprouts with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
Look out very soon for my Super Sides special. All the best bits of any festive meal all in one place!
Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Loads of Lemon and Dill
This is the simplest one-pan winter side dish. Ever. These vibrantly coloured flavour bombs are so good you might want to make a whole batch just for you! Otherwise they are perfect for the holiday table, or with any meal.
- 350 g Brussels sprouts washed, ends trimmed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 10 g fresh dill plus more as liked
- 1 tbsp unsalted grass-fed butter optional; more to taste
Halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts. Halve the lemon. Chop the fresh dill.
Heat the oil in a wok or saute pan overly a fairly high heat. Add the prepped Brussels sprouts and stir fry for 4-5 minutes, or until golden and "caught" in places. Add a splash of water or hot vegetable stock if necessary to keep them from burning. Turn off the heat.
Add the butter to the pan and toss well, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper (and add some ground cardamom if you wish - about 1/8 teaspoon). Gently toss in the juice from 1/2 to whole lemon, chopped dill and serve immediately. I like it very lemony so I use a whole small juicy lemon - about 3 tablespoons. Start with half a lemon and taste a sprout, and add more if you wish.
These Buttery Brussels Sprouts with Loads of Lemon and Dill are best eaten freshly cooked.
Add slivered almonds, chopped walnuts or pine nuts - all toasted in hot pan or oven until golden
Add crumbles of Roquefort, or other strong blue cheese; or even vintage Cheddar
Add an 1/8th of a teaspoon of ground cardamom when stir frying.
Add chopped chestnuts to the pan while the sprouts are cooking
Add crumbled cooked bacon (I like cooked tempeh bacon from Tofurky)
Throw in some salty, pan-crisped capers.
Pin now. Make soon!