Last night, I spent a few minutes scrolling through some old blog posts from our first couple years in Tokyo. Brad and I started The Whites in Tokyo almost immediately after moving to Japan and I'm so grateful that we did. I remember sitting in our tiny business-hotel room with two twin beds complete with buckwheat filled pillows, trying to get rid of the sticky heat that hung over the city in late August. Brad wrote the first few posts while I worked on swimming out of a haze of culture shock. Finally, on August 20, 2008, I wrote my first post about venturing out on my own. Reading that was fascinating to me because it is not unlike how I feel living in Denver.
Reliving those early days of life in a new place helped remind me that I've come a long way since then. I owe a lot of my culinary knowledge to my time abroad because that was how I chose to get to know the culture. Prior to life in Tokyo, I never would have thought to put pineapple with brussels sprouts. But that's the beauty of experiencing new places domestic and abroad: the lessons we learn about food can follow us anywhere. While in Japan, I was able to travel to Thailand a couple of times and this recipe reminds me a little of the food I ate there. More because of the depth of flavor from the soy sauce, lemon and honey on the charred sprouts paired with the freshness of pineapple. That and the contrasting textures. All of these things remind me why I love Asian food. It is always so purposeful and never fails to unveil flavor combinations that linger in your mind long after you have swallowed each delicious bite.
Are you a brussels sprout hater? Get over it. You'll be glad you did. The sweet-salty sauce with the juicy, tart pineapple and crunchy almonds help take brussels sprouts to a new, exciting place far removed from the mushy, boring, flavorless land where they used to live. These would be great as a side dish to just about anything, but particularly dishes like grilled salmon or even with a burger as a healthier replacement for fries.
Who knows? At this time next year I may be posting a brussels sprout recipe inspired by life in the Wild West! Life has thrown crazier curve balls my way...
Charred Brussels Sprouts with Pineapple & Almonds
Makes 4 servings
- 3 1/2 cups or about 1 lb brussels sprouts
- 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
- 2 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Heat oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
Next, pull off any unattractive leaves from the brussels sprouts, then trim the ends and cut the brussels sprouts in half lengthwise. Place in a large bowl with the pineapple. Drizzle it all with peanut oil (olive oil also works) and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, salt and honey. Set aside.
Spread the brussels sprouts and pineapple on your parchment lined sheet pan and place on the middle rack of the oven. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the outer leaves and cut side are nicely charred and the centers are tender. Flip the brussels sprouts half way through cooking time to ensure even doneness.
When the sprouts are done and still hot on the baking sheet, drizzle with the soy sauce and honey mixture. Toss gently to coat, and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve immediately.
- Add crumbled bacon before serving
- Add red pepper flakes to the soy sauce and honey mixture before coating the brussels sprouts
- Use canned pineapple and add a bit of the juice after the brussels sprouts are done cooking
- Use mandarin oranges in place of pineapple. Don't roast them with the brussels sprouts. Add them at the end.