The fried sage is strictly optional/extra credit here. While it does add a huge flavor boost and a delicate crunch (not to mention the presentation value), this dish is still delicious without...
I think disliking Brussels sprouts is a kid prerequisite. Sort of like disliking broccoli or raw onions or being paranoid about the different foods on your plate touching each other (or was that just me?). But apart from being green and cabbage-y, there's another reason--a good one--why children (and many adults) won't touch a Brussels sprout.
Boiled Brussels sprouts can be very sad. Cooked too long, they become waterlogged and soggy and dismally sulfuric. Often, the resulting pale vegetable is drowned in a pool of cheese sauce. Whether this is to hide the green or just make the sprouts palatable I'm not sure.
However, in the past several years, Brussels sprouts have come back in force. We've discovered that they don't have to be boiled, and are, in fact, better when cooked some other way. We sauté them slowly in garlicky butter. We roast them at high heat. We shred and dress them like a salad.
As it turns out, it's not difficult for Brussels sprouts to be appealing. The tiny cabbages bud off a tall stalk, making it something of a Dr. Seussian vegetable, and it's downright delightful to cut into a sprout and find that it looks exactly like a miniature cabbage inside and out (or, as per my father-in-law, they look like "bunny brains").
Cuteness aside, though, Brussels sprouts actually taste great, which is the principal reason we're presenting them for your consideration this holiday season. We've acquired a taste for roasting them. They caramelize and bronze, their crispy edges developing a toasty flavor. As sprouts contain little natural sugar, we add just a smidgen to help the caramelization process along. We throw in an onion cut into thin wedges, because when is roasted onion a bad idea?
I like to sprinkle some dried cranberries on top of the roasted sprouts for a tart contrast, but you can easily leave them off if you like, as cranberries are already featured prominently on the Thanksgiving table. You might also add some toasted walnuts or pecans if the fancy strikes you. Either way, I'll wager that these little browned Brussels sprouts will be mighty popular. Better make a double batch!
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a baking dish or roasting pan with foil.
Trim, wash, and halve:
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
Cut into thin wedges:
1 large onion
Toss the onion and Brussels sprouts in the prepared dish with:
1/4 cup olive or canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar or brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts begin to caramelize and turn golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Sprinkle on top, if desired: