Steaming is so last year.
When it comes to frozen produce, there seems to be a general consensus of which items it makes sense to buy frozen every now and again, and which items you simply have no other option but to choose fresh. Brussels sprouts definitely fall in the latter category. There’s something eerily wet and mushy about their frozen-then-cooked counterparts that ruin the veggie in its entirety. The cruciferous, hearty structure that a fresh Brussels sprout possesses is ultimately lost when it’s frozen and then steamed. This fact of life is simply inescapable.
However, in a recent discussion about how great frozen spinach and frozen broccoli can be in a pinch, I felt an overwhelming desire to outsmart the frozen Brussels sprout. There has to be a way to make this universally-disliked frozen veggie into something worth getting excited about. If its fresh counterpart is loved by so many, there must be a way for the frozen version to win over the some hearts, too.
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The solution is simple—skip the instructions on the back of the bag telling you to steam them in the microwave. That route is only going to yield you a bowl of watery, dense, lifeless sprouts. They’re quite depressing, TBH. Instead, preheat your oven to 400°, and drop your frozen sprouts directly on a rimmed baking sheet and toss them in extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and/or whatever other spices you’d like. No need to let them thaw—we’re just going to go right ahead and hit them with a blast of heat. Roast them for about 30 minutes, tossing them around occasionally, until all sides have a crispy, browned exterior.
Next, take a knife, and start halving these babies. Be careful—they’re going to be hot and steamy, so handle with caution. Lay the sprouts, cut-side-down on the sheet pan and return them to the top rack of the oven, which should now be set to a high broil. Leave them under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the cut side and outer leaves start to crisp up. From here, you can eat them as is, or mix them up with chopped bacon, crumbled goat cheese, a drizzle of tahini, or literally any other topping that might provide an extra burst of flavor/texture.
While this way of preparing them is obviously a bit more involved than simply steaming them in the microwave, it’s definitely worth the extra effort. We can totally relate to that feeling of getting home and having no fresh food, so keeping a bag or two of veggies in the freezer is a great way to always have something to fall back on when you’re having one of those days. All this to say, if you’re not in a pinch and you have the spare time/dollars, you’re ultimately best off going through a stroll down the produce aisle and grabbing a bag of fresh Brussels sprouts. You really can’t beat ‘em.