In South Louisiana, we truly have a penchant for taking healthy foods, most notably vegetables, and smothering them in some of the least healthy members in the food kingdom. This month we offer two Brussels sprouts recipes (one with pancetta and another with cream and oregano) that keep the smothering to a minimal but are quick and easy enough to whip up before rushing off to a party and require very little time gathering ingredients at the store.

Grab a stalk of Brussels sprouts, or a pre-packaged one-pound box if you’re in a rush. One pound feeds about four people, making it easy to double or triple a recipe for larger groups of people. Trim discoloration off the sprouts by chopping off the brownish parts near the stalk. For the recipes, visit www.theind.com/brusselssprouts. — ER

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
This recipe creates a salty and savory side dish of sprouts baked in the pancetta drippings. Minus the cheese, a serving is only 90 calories, making it a delicious dish without a next-day bloat. Serves 4.

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 T kosher salt
1/4 C chopped pancetta (or thick-cut bacon)
fresh ground black pepper
1 t apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Blanch Brussels sprouts. Cook the sprouts in boiling water approximately 6 minutes, or until tender, drain and place in ice water.
3. Fry pancetta over medium-low heat in a skillet until crisp. Separate the pancetta from the drippings and save both.
4. Cut Brussels sprouts into halves lengthwise and place flat side down on a baking sheet. Pour the pancetta drippings over the sprouts and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once after 10 minutes.
5. Combine sprouts, pancetta and vinegar in large bowl. Serve warm.

Brussels Sprouts with Cream and Oregano
This recipe calls for fresh oregano (not dried), and the difference is immediately apparent. The cream is not the star of this dish but adds a distinct smoothness while the golden pine nuts provide a slight crunch. It’s surprisingly simple and requires very little effort. Serves 4.

3 T butter
1/4 C pine nuts
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
3/4 C chicken stock
1 shallot, minced
1 T fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 C whipping cream

1. Melt 1 T butter in large skillet and add pine nuts. Stir until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and reserve.
2. Melt 1 T butter in same skillet and add sprouts. Stir 1 minute, then add broth, cover and simmer until sprouts are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer for until the broth evaporates.
3. Push sprouts to the side of the skillet and melt 1 T of butter in the middle. Add the minced shallots and sauté until tender.
4. Stir in oregano and cream. Simmer and stir until all sprouts are covered with cream. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Transfer to serving platter and stir in half of the reserved pine nuts. Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top and serve warm.

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