Lunchbox – Christmas miracle sprouts, with a maple and tahini dressing

You’re sat at the Christmas table, family shouting at each other across the turkey, kids tucking in despite being told they should wait, and drinks toppling over as everyone reaches for the bread sauce. Then your uncle, or granny, or whoever it is that’s hosting that year, unenthusiastically chucks a couple of sprouts at your plate.

Boiled, bitter, murky-green sprouts.


Brussels - edited
Brussels in all their glory – photo taken from this amazing sprout recipe slideshow


You immediately protest and try to throw them back, saying you’ll just have extra stuffing thanks or a couple more pigs in blankets, but granny isn’t having any of it, so you start the negotiation process.

She recommends five. You argue:


She recommends three. You ask:

‘How about another roast potato?’

You to and fro until your sprout-serving granny gets cross – she’s had this fight with half the table already. So being the understanding, accommodating, courageous soul that you are, you kindly and oh so heroically accept defeat. You look up at your granny and say:

‘Fine. But just the one’.


Brussels sprouts-7


Now imagine having a sprout dish that alleviated all need for negotiations. A dish that has people passing along the stuffing as they declare ‘I’m waiting for the sprouts!’ It would be a Christmas miracle, right?


Well here it is!


Brussels sprouts

This recipe is:

  • Sweet
  • Smoky
  • Satisfying
  • And oh so very more-ish


So where did Granny go wrong?**

1. She boiled the sprouts

Never boil the sprouts. In fact I would argue you should never boil any veg ever, but that’s an argument for another day. Of course, if bitter, limp, murky green coloured sprouts are what you’re going for then by all means boil away, but be warned – the sprout bowl will be passed along the Christmas table without so much as a nibble!

By pan-frying the sprouts, bitter becomes sweet, limp becomes lovely and the murky green colour becomes gorgeous golden brown.


2. She served them dry

A boiled, unseasoned sprout is a sad sprout.

A sprout paired with pecans and cranberries and drizzled with a sweet and creamy maple tahini dressing is definitely a happy sprout.


Brussels sprouts-2


So to anyone that’s ever eaten a disappointing sprout (which, let’s face it, is all of us) I urge you to give this recipe a go.

Sprout pros, grab a spoon and a fill your tuppaware to the brim.

Sprout-phobes, start by adding it to the Christmas dinner table. Make a vow to grab one less roast potato and nudge that stuffing over a little bit to make way for a gorgeous maple tahini sprout.

Even if it’s just the one.


**Disclaimer (for my Granny, who I know is reading this) – the granny in this story is a hypothetical granny. Your sprouts were always delicious. 




To the recipe!


Brussels sprouts-14



  • 400g Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
  • 50g pecans (or 100g pre-cooked chestnuts)
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the maple tahini dressing

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp water

Makes enough for 4 side servings or two lunchboxes.


Sauce options

Lemon and Dijon mustard dressing | Balsamic dressing | Garlic butter


Vegetarian options

Parmesan shavings | Avocado | Roasted pears


Meat and fish options

Bacon or lardons | Grilled chicken | Pork



  1. Heat a large lidded frying pan on a medium heat until hot. Add the sprouts and 2-3 tablespoons of water and pop the lid on. Steam until the water has fully evaporated (about 5 minutes) to soften the sprouts slightly, ensuring they don’t burn to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Once the water has evaporated, add the olive oil and a good grind of salt and pepper and stir to coat the sprouts. Fry for 10 minutes, or until soft and golden brown in places.
  3. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Put the lemon juice, tahini, maple syrup, salt and 1 tbsp of water into a small jar, pop the lid on and shake to combine. Add another tbsp water if necessary.
  4. When the sprouts are golden, add the pecans and cranberries and cook for a couple of minutes more until heated through.
  5. Pop in a tuppaware and drizzle with the maple tahini dressing, ready for work tomorrow. Or save the recipe for Christmas!


If cooking for Christmas dinner, or simply have a little more time, you could roast the sprouts at 200°C (180°C fan) for 20-30 minutes, stirring in the pecans and cranberries just before serving. 

Samantha x

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