If you’re looking for next-level Brussels sprouts that taste as good as they look, you’ve come to the right place. Not only are we giving them the cacio e pepe treatment by sprinkling them with black pepper and Pecorino, we’re roasting them on the stalk for a jaw-dropping presentation. You might never make them any other way.
What Is Cacio e Pepe?
Cacio e pepe, which translates to “cheese and pepper,” is a Roman pasta made with Pecorino Romano cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Parmesan works well too, if that’s what you’ve got: both are aged, hard cheeses that pair deliciously with the pepper’s sharp and fruity flavor.
A pairing this good, in fact, should be enjoyed as often as possible, which is why such things as cacio e pepe chicken wings exist. When applied to roasted Brussels sprouts, the grated cheese crisps and clings onto every nook and cranny, ensuring every bite is packed with salt-and-pepper flavor.
Prepping Your Stalk for Roasting
After securing a stalk at the store—I’ve seen them at Wegman’s, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and my local farmers market—it’s time to prepare it for the oven. Here are a few tips to set you up for success:
- Trim the ends, if necessary: A standard rimmed baking sheet measures 21 inches diagonally. It’s okay if the ends of the stalk hang off a little bit, but if it's longer than two feet, go ahead and trim it so it can sit securely on the baking sheet.
- Rub the oil into the sprouts: I find it easiest to rub the oil in with my hands, but you can also brush it onto each sprout. Do your best to avoid big pools of oil on the baking sheet, which will splatter and smoke in the oven.
- Adjust the amount of salt: A smaller 2-pound stalk will need about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, while larger stalks with bigger sprouts can handle more. Remember that you’ll be adding a lot of salty cheese, so it’s better to be conservative.
Serving Your Sprouts
If you want to give your guests an interactive eating experience, serve the stalk with a knife and let them slice off their own sprouts. Alternatively, present it to them so they can witness the masterpiece, then slice off the sprouts yourself and toss them in all the crispy cheese that’s fallen onto the baking sheet. Serve with lemon wedges to brighten up each bite.
More Fantastic Brussels Sprouts Recipes
Cacio e Pepe Brussels Sprouts Stalk
Look for a stalk with medium-sized brussels sprouts. Some stalks have HUGE Brussels sprouts that taste more cabbage-like and aren’t as sweet and tender.
While the stalk is edible, you’ll need to cook them for longer until it’s tender enough to eat. The most popular preparations are braising or pressure cooking.
1 (2- to 3-pound) Brussels sprouts stalk, about 20 to 24 inches long (see Recipe Note)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 ounces freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1 cup)
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Line a large baking sheet with foil.
Rub the Brussels sprouts with the oil:
Place the Brussels sprouts stalk diagonally on the prepared baking sheet (it’s okay if the very ends hang off). Drizzle the olive oil directly onto the sprouts, turning the stalk as you go and usig your hands to rub the oil in as best you can. Be sure to rub any oil that drips onto the baking sheet back onto the sprouts to minimize splatter in the oven. Alternatively, use a pastry brush to brush the oil onto the sprouts.
Season with salt and pepper:
Season the Brussels sprouts with salt (the amount you use will depend on the size of the stalk) and 1 teaspoon black pepper, turning as you go.
Roast the Brussels sprouts:
Roast the stalk, flipping it halfway through, until the Brussels sprouts are crispy, deeply browned, and tender (a knife should slide easily through), 20 to 25 minutes.
Combine the cheese and pepper:
While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, mix together the Pecorino Romano cheese and the remaining 2 teaspoons of black pepper in a small bowl.
Sprinkle the Brussels sprouts with the cheese:
Remove the stalk from the oven. Sprinkle the cheese mixture directly onto the sprouts, rotating the stalk as you go and pressing it in as best you can. It’s okay if some falls onto the baking sheet.
Return to the oven:
Return the stalk to the oven and bake until the cheese is crisp and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Slice and serve:
Slice the sprouts off of the stalk so that they land on the baking sheet, being sure to slice off the crispy leaves as well. Discard or compost the stalk, or save it for another use (see Recipe Note).
Toss the sprouts and leaves in any crunchy cheese and pepper that’s on the baking sheet. Transfer to a bowl and serve with lemon wedges, if using. Alternatively, present the stalk with a chef’s knife to your guests and have them slice off their sprouts.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 12g||15%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||14%|
|Total Carbohydrate 17g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 6g||22%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 141mg||703%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|