Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Preserved Lemon

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Preserved Lemon

Man, who doesn’t like a big ol’ bowl of roasted Brussels sprouts?

If you don’t, I suspect you haven’t had them prepared correctly.  And while it’s tempting to treat Brussels sprouts like any other vegetable when roasting, the usual “toss ’em in olive oil, add salt and pepper, roast at 400º F” business doesn’t really work as well as it should.

Too often, the little guys are burnt black on the outside while the insides are still crunchy and nearly raw.  And of course, Cook’s Illustrated has a simple solution to that problem: roast them covered, with a tiny splash of water, so they steam a little before getting uncovered and roasted until nicely browned.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Preserved Lemon
dark brown is okay, black is not

Tell you what, I love me some Brussels sprouts, and this is the best method I’ve ever used for roasting them.

But plain roasted Brussels sprouts — lovely as they are — can be a little boring.  I get bored easily.  Besides, I have a fridge to clean out.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Preserved Lemon

So I tossed my sprouts with some bacon, pecans, preserved lemon, scallions, and some phenomenal hot sauce that came with a recent order of Ethiopian take-out.  (I have no idea what it is, but I’m tempted to order from that place again just for the hot sauce.)

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Preserved Lemon
quinoa turns any side dish into an entrée, right?

I was going to grate some pecorino romano over everything, but that would’ve meant washing the Microplane later.  That was one step too far.  Next time, maybe.  It didn’t need it.

This is one of those dishes that’s greater than the sum of its parts.  The ingredients all sound good together on paper, but on the plate, it’s like daaaaang.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Preserved Lemon


Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Preserved Lemon

Yield: 2 servings

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Preserved Lemon

Adapted in part from Cook's Illustrated.

This dish is equally viable as a side or an entrée (served over quinoa or other starch of choice), and is awfully satisfying. Even better: it all comes together in the time it takes to heat the oven and roast the Brussels sprouts.

I happen to have an aging jar of preserved lemon in my fridge, which I love using with most any roasted vegetable. If you don't have such a jar, do not fear. It will be just as good without.


  • 6 to 8 ounces Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
  • A drizzle of olive oil, about 1 tablespoon
  • 1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon preserved lemon (optional, but lovely), chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce of choice, or to taste
  • Cooked quinoa, rice, couscous, or short pasta, to serve (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 500º F, and place a rack in the upper-middle position. (This is a perfect time to toast the pecans, while the oven heats. They'll need about 5-10 minutes in the warming oven. And if you need to make some quinoa or couscous or what-have-you, now's the time to start it.)

2. Slice the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise (or into quarters if they're large). Toss on a rimmed baking sheet with a light drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper, and 1 tablespoon water. Arrange the sprouts cut-side down, and cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

3. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil, and continue roasting for 8 to 12 minutes more, or until knife-tender and browned.

4. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a pan over medium heat until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, chop, and set aside. Save the rendered fat, because it is delicious and it makes the best fried eggs.

5. In a large bowl, combine the pecans, scallions, preserved lemon, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Mix in the bacon, and a spoonful of bacon fat; set aside.

6. When the Brussels sprouts are done, toss them while still hot with the bacon and other ingredients in the bowl. Serve immediately as a side, or over quinoa (or what-have-you) as an entrée.

Want to cook some quinoa, but don't know how? It's your lucky day.

1 part quinoa (1/2 cup is more than enough for 2 servings)

2 parts water


Bay leaf (optional)

1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Yes, you really should do this.

2. Put rinsed quinoa in a pan over medium heat. Toast and stir frequently until you don't hear any more sizzling-type noises (this means the quinoa is dry and getting toasted).

3. Add the water slowly, because those quinoa like to jump when the water hits 'em, and they're a pain to clean off your stove later.

4. Add salt (1 scant teaspoon per cup of quinoa) and bay leaf, and bring to a boil.

5. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.

6. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, at least 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving. Quinoa!

Peach Bacon Jam

Bacon jam, yawn.  So last season.  Peaches and bacon?  Getting warmer, but I’m starting to see it everywhere.

Peach and bacon jam?  Disco.

This is a fever-dream of a recipe that came to me during a meditation practice.  No joke.  Kind of annoying, too.  You’re sitting there, trying to focus only on breathing, and wham you either have to stop and get a pen and paper, or just let those thoughts accumulate and blow up and take over.  And then you have to go get some bacon.

Can you still find peaches?  Awesome.  Make this at once.

Are peaches gone?  Save this recipe for next year.  In the meantime, substitute figs.  Or apples, pears, grapes, what-have-you.  Dried apricots.  Frozen blueberries.

What do you do with it?  Here’s some of my brainstorm:

  • *  Serve it neat with crusty bread and apples
  • *  Make canapés with goat cheese, bacon jam, and arugula pesto, in that order
  • *  Use in a grilled cheese with manchego and hot peppers
  • *  Spread on crisp toasts and use to garnish a raw fennel and watercress salad with a buttermilk vinaigrette
  • *  Dot on a pizza with shaved fennel, mozzarella, and arugula 

It’s fairly sweet, so take that into consideration when dreaming up new ways to use it.  It’s not quite a chutney, not quite a pâté, not exactly a jam, but somewhere in the middle of all three.  It’s awesome.

Peach Bacon Jam

Yield: about 2 cups

Peach Bacon Jam

I wanted a rustic texture, so I chopped everything as small as possible and let it do what it was going to do. The onions and peaches more or less melt into the jam, but the peach skins might be an issue if you don't cut the peaches into very small pieces (and I couldn't be bothered to peel them). Feel free to take the easy way after cooking and whizz everything up in a food processor for a smoother result.


  • 1/2 pound bacon, preferably thick-sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 pound very ripe peaches, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Serrano chile pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1 to 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


1. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned and just barely crisp, 10 to 15 minutes, flipping the bacon as necessary. Pour out all but 2 to 3 tablespoons of the rendered fat. Chop the bacon finely, and set aside.

2. Add the onion to the fat in the Dutch oven, and cook over medium heat until softened, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the peaches, chile, wine, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Stir to combine.

4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, low to medium-low heat. Stirring occasionally, cook until the mixture has thickened to a jam-like consistency and no longer looks soupy, 30 to 45 minutes. You will need to stir more towards the end of cooking to prevent scorching, lowering the heat as needed.

5. Stir in the bacon and lemon juice, and taste the jam. Correct the seasoning as needed with additional salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice. Let cool, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.