I remember the first time I had Brussels sprouts. I was in grade nine and at a friend’s house. Her mom made me eat them, and I hated them. Oh, how I’ve changed. The Niagara Street Grill, way back when, taught me to love all veggies thanks to their amazing sides. This recipe is a great side mostly because of the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar that candy the sprouts. And now it’s one that I feed to the friends of my kids. I tell them, ‘If I make you eat your veggies, it means I love you and you are like family.”
5 oz (140 g) pancetta, cut into chunks
1 lb (455 g) Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
3 tbsp (45 mL) aged balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) maple syrup
1/2 cup (125 mL) Medjool dates, pitted and halved
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). In a pan over medium heat, fry the pancetta for 2 to 3 minutes per side until it crisps and curls.
In a shallow baking dish or sheet pan lined with parchment paper, toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes. Drizzle with the balsamic and maple syrup and toss to coat. Top with the dates and pancetta, and roast for 10 more minutes or until just softened. Place under the broiler for about 30 seconds at the end to caramelize. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 4.
Cook’s note: For added richness, top while hot with a few dollops of gorgonzola or your favourite blue cheese, just before serving.