Ο βρεγμένος τη βροχή δε φοβάται. (The one who is wet is not afraid of the rain).
For me, Thursday is a day of liberation. Not only have I fulfilled my teaching responsibilities for the week, but I’m also free from having to think about waking up at some ungodly hour like 6:19 or 6:22 a.m. (I never set the clock on a typical number like 6:15 or 6:20) until the following Monday evening. That, in and of itself, is nothing short of glorious. The other thing I like about Thursdays is that I have a long-standing date with my dissertation on Thursday afternoons at the Beanery Cafe, where I meet with a fellow dissertator and friend in comparative literature. By the time 5/5:30 rolls around on a Thursday afternoon, I feel that I’ve gotten a lot done and I can go home to relax–to cook, to watch some show or movie, to read (something non-academic, but of course)! Even though the week isn’t officially over (Friday does have its own share of responsibilities), it’s basically over, which is enough.
The funny thing about this whole situation is that my dissertation “crisis” was ushered in by green beans and ushered out by brussel sprouts; I like that vegetables have taken on such symbolic meaning in my life. Honestly, I can firmly say that, when I buy most things, I have a vague idea of what I might do with it. The green beans were supposed to be peas and, for peas, I had a plan. For these brussel sprouts, I thought I would make a slaw (I was inspired by Bittman’s article in last week’s The New York Times Magazine). Of course, when I opened the jar of mayo in the fridge, I had barely enough to cover one measly piece of bread and, after my grocery shopping extravaganza, I loathed the idea of going back to the store. I had gotten home later than I had anticipated. I needed to make dinner and pronto! I quickly realized that the cookies I planned on baking would have to wait. My priority was the brussel sprouts and then the risotto. A simple search of brussel sprout recipes on google led me to Ina Garten’s Roasted Brussel Sprout recipe, which seemed easy enough and promised a salty and crispy, yet tender (at least on the inside) sprout. In short, that seemed good enough for me. And the recipe didn’t lie; these sprouts were ridiculously good (I accidentally typed god, which may have been a Freudian slip. This could be the food of the gods).
They really reminded me of potato chips, especially the ones whose outer layers became loose when I was mixing them with the kosher salt and herbs de provence (my one amendment to the recipe was to Frenchify it) and then baked on their own. It made me think that if I were to peel each sprout, layer by layer and roast the leaves on a cookie sheet….I made well and truly have brussel sprout potato chips. But for simpler weeknight projects, browning the outer layers will do. There is, after all, something to be said for the soft core. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so many brussel sprouts in one night. I kid you not; brussel sprouts, for the first time in my life, inspired me to push the boundaries of gluttony.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Yields 6 servings
Barely adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon herbs de provence
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves.
-Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, kosher salt (if you use regular table salt here, you’re asking for something that will be inedible. Smitten Kitchen explained it best), pepper and herbs de provence.
-Place them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
-Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.
-Sprinkle with more kosher salt (lightly or according to taste) and serve immediately.