Friday, April 22, 2011

Potluck Success

I normally don't enjoy potlucks very much. I'd rather eat out than eat a bunch of random food prepared by other people, and I'd rather pay for a restaurant meal than have to make something (which often ends up costing me as much as a restaurant meal anyway). I also hate the hassle of how it's impossible for everything to be served warm/cold/whatever. I am just a grump about them.

However, I was invited to a Passover seder last Sunday. The host made a fine brisket as well as matzo ball soup, and we were asked to bring a side item, dessert, or drink, etc., made without leavened flour and without pork or shellfish or both meat and cheese, etc. So it was kind of a semi-potluck, but a great opportunity to participate in a seder, so that was all right.

I decided to roast some brussels sprouts. I'd never tried this before, but it seemed like it ought to work, and the Internet seemed to agree. At the store, there were boxes of fresh sprouts that were not as fresh as I would have liked, and then there were these enormous stems of sprouts which were much fresher (presumably because the stem sustains them).

This thing was amazing - huge and bulky, like a big club made of brussels sprouts. And it had way plenty of sprouts on it for roasting. Cutting them off wasn't much extra work since you normally have to trim the flat end anyway.

It was $4.49.

So I cut the sprouts off, tossed them in olive oil and salt, and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes (whole). Cutting them in half would probably have been more delicious, but I was actually running out of time.

I don't have two ovens and I wanted a warm dish to transport these in (I was afraid a cold vessel would coldify them right away), so when they were getting done, I poured boiling water into a lidded casserole dish. When the sprouts were done, I poured the water out, dried the dish thoroughly, and put the sprouts in. I carried the casserole dish to the seder wrapped in a towel, and I got the hosts to put their oven on warm as I drove over, so I could pop it right in the oven when I got there.

The ritual part of the seder went on for a while, so by the time we ate, my sprouts had been kept warm in the oven for perhaps 45 minutes. This is not an ideal situation for maintaining any kind of roasted quality, but when we ate them, they were still delicious - not totally toasty but still considerably different from boiled or steamed sprouts. I got a ton of compliments both from people who like brussels sprouts and from people (well, one person) who had previously regarded them with fear.

I felt pretty kick-ass at bringing a healthy, well-liked dish that cost me under $5 to make.

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