Brussels sprouts panzanella

March 30, 2011

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Serves 8

At the beginning of the semester, this was one of the things I made when my housemates and I sat down for dinner together. The Brussels sprouts at the market looked particularly appealing that day, and we had some bread sitting around. Panzanella is a traditional Italian dish made with stale bread, tomatoes, and olive oil. This version, made with Aleppo pepper (a fruity, not-too-too-spicy chili from Syria) can work as a vegetarian main course. (Aleppo pepper is available at Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods, 1255 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-576-2090.)

5 cups cubed day-old bread (cut from one baguette or focaccia)
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, sliced
3 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 wedge (8 ounces) Parmesan, cut into 15 thin slices with a vegetable peeler

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. In a bowl, sprinkle the bread with olive oil to coat it lightly. Add salt and black pepper. Tip it onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate. Leave the oven on.

3. Working in two batches, prepare the Brussels sprouts. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add half the Brussels sprouts, Aleppo pepper or red pepper, and salt. Cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until they are browned. Transfer to the baking dish and set in the oven. Cook the remaining Brussels sprouts in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the same way.

4. In a large serving bowl, combine the Brussels sprouts, bread, lemon rind, and Parmesan. Toss gently. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or red pepper, if you like.

Luke Pyenson