Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Lemon & Olive Oil

Caramelized Brussels SproutsIf last fall you had told me that Gwyneth Paltrow would give me a great recipe for Brussels Sprouts I would have rolled me eyes. At the time she, an accomplished actress and protective mother, was easily the last person I would've turned to for cooking advice.

Then, last November, I subscribed to Gwyneth's website, GOOP, and started watching a her PBS mini-series, only to realize that she actually does know how to navigate a kitchen and feed her family. So here I am, a year later, preaching the
word of Gwyneth's Caramelized Brussels Sprouts. Proving that great recipes can come from the most unexpected sources, I have her recipe on permanent repeat in my household. It is the most simple and delicious preparation for a vegetable, that, prior to her guidelines, was not exactly one of my favorites.

All of us have a lame claim to fame of some kind. Have you ever spotted a celebrity at an airport or nearby Starbucks? Or, do you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows Julia Roberts' former assistant? We all can play Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon in one way or another, associating ourselves with the Hollywood elite. So, here is my lame claim to fame: I went to camp with Gwyneth Paltrow. No, we weren't bunk-mates, or even friends. In fact, her cousin was a good friend of mine and our second year at camp she announced that Gwyneth wasn't returning because she was making a movie in Texas with Dennis Quaid and would soon be famous. Nobody believed her. But we should have.

Brussels Sprouts
I haven't seen Gwyneth since our Vermont summers, but I do read her website. And, although our lives couldn't be more different these days, I am pleased to see that we still have a few things in common. When it comes to cooking I enjoy her menu ideas and the thoughtfulness she puts into feeding her family. I especially appreciate her choice to lead by example, reminding us to enjoy a great roast chicken, but make it organic, please.

Gwyneth probably has the full-time childcare, but I doubt that means she has unlimited time in the kitchen to cook. I am sure, like all parents, she understands the need to make tasty food in an efficient manner, and might even do a lot of her cooking during her children's afternoon naptimes. Her recipes written clearly with simple instructions for getting the most flavor from the ingredients. For example, her straightforward brussels sprouts recipe is wonderfully delicious and a snap to make. I had no problem preparing these during my daughter's naptime, and found them just as easy to cook, from start to finish, at dinnertime.

Brussels Sprouts
What I like about this recipe is that its simplicity lets the true flavor of the vegetable shine. Unlike a lot of fall vegetable recipes, there is no mention of baking anything in cream or cheese, it is just about quality olive oil, salt and lemon. Come to think of it, those are my three most favorite flavor enhancers which is probably why I enjoy these so much. When these are simmering in the skillet the sprouts become perfectly tender with delicious crispy edges. They are finished off with a nice dip in a pool of yummy olive oil and sea salt, then with a quick a drizzle of lemon. This method does a great job of enhancing the vegetable flavor without overshadowing it. While I doubt I'll be bumping into Gwyneth at our camp reunions, I will continue to read her recipes and make more of her dishes. With these sprouts she has proved to me that she knows what she is doing, and I look forward to reading, and eating, more.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Olive Oil

adapted from GOOP

2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, trimmed
1/2 c. olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 t. Sea Salt

1 lemon, halved.

1. Trim sprouts and steam them in a steamer basket, or the microwave. If steaming over boiling water, do this for about 8 minutes, or until sprouts are tender.

2. Remove sprouts from the steamer basket and cut in half lengthwise. Then coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and nestle the sprouts, cut side down, the pan over medium heat. Allow the sprouts to cook for about 5 minutes. Do not turn them over! Make sure the bottoms are evenly browned and crisped. Then, turn them all over and cook for another 3 minutes.

3. Remove sprouts from pan and drizzle them with a bit more olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and squeeze half the lemon over top. Note: If you have made these during naptime then allow them to cool before placing them in the fridge. Then reheat them at dinner!

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Props:
This is a simple recipe that is hard to mess up. I've experimented with adding some spices to these and it works well. Feel free to see what else you think might taste good added the dish, I'll be there are some great variations.

Naptime Stopwatch:
I have found that I can get these onto the table in 20 minutes or less. I also make the during naptime and reheat them at dinner. They are so simple and easy, it is hard not to add this to your weekly menu.

Naptime Reviews: I'll admit, I have not yet converted my toddler to Brussels Sprouts, but my husband enjoyed these. I'll have to keep working on my daughter, but I'm sure she'll come around eventually.


  1. I went to the same college as that guy who played Angel in that vampire show. I never met him nor did I take any classes with him, but we were on the campus at the same time. Does that count ;)?

    God I'm lame.

    Ha ha.

  2. Brussels sprouts are hard to find but they are one of my favorites. I agree with the salt, lemon and olive as the primary seasonings.

  3. This is exactly how I make mine. Pre-GOOP but I do love that Thursday email more than I ever expected I might. When the small outer sprout leaves detach and crisp up while roasting? I rarely reserve the dignity to resist. A small, thinly sliced shallot adds another welcome element from time to time as it also caramelizes nicely.

  4. Thank you for sharing this recipe, I adore brussels sprout and will have to try it.

    My husband has a very lame claim to fame related to Gwyneth Paltrow. He's not into knowing celebrities, and met Gwyneth in the late 90's at a party hosted by one of those big investment banks in the heyday, when every detail was spectacular. He was talking with her for about 15 minutes, before she started talking about the movie she just finished, Shakespeare in Love, and by that time she was very well known for years. He, in all his naivete, did not know about her, and fortunately let it out that he did not recognize her! She of course was offended and left the conversation shortly after.

  5. My husband loves brussels sprouts and this looks like a simple and delicious way to make them

  6. I love finding new ways to enjoy vegetables that are not always "friendly"...like brussels sprouts!
    I made mine with fennel seeds and balsamic: http://www.ztastylife.com/2009/11/3-hearty-tasty-vegetable-sides.html

  7. Fantastic idea...the one thing I think about adding is cumin! My daughter loves them as do we- hubby and I but then growing up in Nigeria, we weren't subjected to eating them year on year...I do also fancy roasted chestnuts and bacon bits with them too ...

  8. I love all the lame claims to fame and connections to GP!
    @Amelia - fennel and balsamic sound delicious!
    @Kitchen Butterfly - I love the idea of adding cumin. And, bacon, yes, everything is better with bacon.