Brussels sprouts in August? Huh? After nearly 2 decades in magazine publishing, I’m still bewildered by the fact that we always work at least one season ahead. Flat, tasteless hot-house tomatoes in March have to (using taste memories, a great sense of imagination and an even greater suspension of disbelief) approximate July’s luscious juicy heirlooms. Of course shipping from parts west (and warm) is always an option, but very costly. The irony of publishing “Locavore” stories in season while working on them out of season is one that never escapes me, but probably never occurs to readers. And why would it? Who could know? Working on wintery stories in the Spring and Summer is a bit less of a stretch because many of those fruits and vegetables store fairly well. Taste is not always optimal but chances are, they’ll be roasted, braised, gratinéed, puréed or baked into a pie and that mitigates much of the un-seasonality .
Brussels sprouts, the stinky cornerstone of Thanksgiving, are now just starting to pop up at the market, which is convenient for magazine work. But I’m always happy to see Brussels sprouts–any time of year and take full advantage of their presence whether I’m developing out-of-season recipes or just making dinner…or today’s brunch as luck would have it.
One of my absolute favorite dishes is Shakshuka–a Middle Eastern version of my beloved Italian Eggs in Purgatory. Both dishes are nothing more than eggs baked in tomato sauce. Today I wanted something a little different and not so saucy. Back from a beautiful, drizzly trail run, and starving, I did a quick check of my pantry: eggs, sandwich bread, scallions, rosemary and yes, Brussels sprouts. (I was working on a Thanksgiving story and had half a basket in my fridge.) My post-run go-to meal always combines protein, carbs and veggies and I had everything I needed.
I toasted some croutons in the skillet, then shredded and sautéed the Brussels sprouts in olive oil to softened them and bring out their sweetness. Rosemary and scallions were all the seasoning, besides salt and pepper, necessary, though I suppose some fresh chiles would’ve been delicious. (Enter hot sauce!) I then transferred the mixture to individual baking dishes, made a little well in the center of each, into which I cracked an egg. They popped into a very hot toaster oven (no need to turn on the big one) for about 4 minutes and emerged with runny yolks, crispy croutons and tender Brussels sprouts. A perfect all-in-one meal!
BRUSSELS SPROUT SHAKSHUKA
total time: 20 min
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 slice packaged white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 large Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the bread and cook over moderately high heat, stirring until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining oil to the pan along with the Brussels sprouts, scallion and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Return the croutons to the skillet and toss to combine. Divide the mixture between 2 individual baking dishes or gratin dishes and make a small well in the center. Crack an egg into each dish and bake until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with hot sauce. Yay!