Brussels Sprouts with (Turkey) Bacon and Dates - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Brussels Sprouts with (Turkey) Bacon and Dates

My husband and I used to go out to dinner much more than we do now.  When the kids would to go to bed at 7:00 pm, it was a lot easier to tuck them in, leave them with a babysitter after they were asleep and still manage to have dinner out at a reasonable hour.  Well, (bed)times have changed and so has my desire to out to restaurants.  Call me a party pooper, but I’d much rather enjoy a simple meal at home with a few good friends and end the evening with a competitive game of Sequence or Bananagrams.  Can you imagine how much fun I’m going to be when I’m 60?

I do have a few favorite restaurants, though, one of which is the wildly popular, (but not in a cheesy LA-way) Gjelina in Venice, California.  It’s earthy, rustic, but still sophisticated and there’s kale on the menu in three or four different dishes.  And most importantly, they make it all taste divine in a way that I can’t.  Last year, I had these incredible char-grilled Brussels sprouts with bacon and dates that I became obsessed with.  I literally dreamt about them and all that sweet, salty, lightly charred goodness.  I was incredibly excited when my friend Laura had her birthday dinner there a few months later and I was able to enjoy the Brussels sprouts again.  But unfortunately, Gjelina is not the type of restaurant which gives out its recipes.  I knew some version of these sprouts had to be on our Thanksgiving table last year, so I set out to make my version of the dish, which I like just as much and it doesn’t cost me $8/serving.

What’s funny about my obsession with Brussels sprouts is that I despised them as a child most likely because my mother bought them frozen and then boiled the life out of them.  But if you can roast them or sear them in a pan and cook them until they’re tender, they are just amazing.  Brussels sprouts are also incredibly good for you, as are all the cruciferous vegetables.  They contain loads of fiber, folate, potassium, Vitamin C and some very powerful anti-cancer sulfur compounds.  And if Brussels sprouts’ nutritional profile doesn’t impress you, the green color adds some vitality to a normally very beige Thanksgiving spread.

These Brussels sprouts are fabulous and will have an encore appearance at our Thanksgiving buffet this year, although it’s not the best dish to make for an enormous crowd (more than 25 or so.)  Last year I had three large skillets going on the stovetop and I don’t think I could have wedged in another.  I pull the turkeys out of the oven to rest for about 30-40 minutes and start my gravy right away since that can sit on the stove on low heat while I tend to the salads and vegetables in the remaining 20 to 30 minutes or so.  If you would like to make this to bring to someone else’s house, do ask your host if he or she can accommodate your making this on the spot.  Otherwise, you can make it before you leave your house and reheat it gently just before dinner with a few tablespoons of stock.  Of course, these Brussels sprouts are no one-hit wonder.  They’re easy enough to make any night of the week, which you’ll just have to do since Gjelina was crazy enough to take them off the menu!

Brussels Sprouts with (Turkey) Bacon and Dates
Serves: 6, depending on how many other sides you are serving
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ pounds medium Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
  • 4 ounces nitrate-free turkey bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4-6 large, pitted dates, chopped (they’re much easier to cut when cold)
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat a large skillet (12-14 -inch is good) over medium high heat. Add olive oil and butter.
  2. Make sure you are wearing an apron so any splattering doesn’t mess up your outfit. When butter is melted, add Brussels sprouts cut side down and season them with 1 teaspoon sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Allow the sprouts to brown without burning and then turn to brown on the other side. Lower the heat to medium and cook the sprouts another 3-4 minutes, until they soften slightly.
  3. Move the sprouts to one side of the pan and add the diced turkey bacon to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until it starts to crisp around the edges.
  4. Stir in the shallots, garlic and dates and cook another minute or so until the shallots are tender.
  5. Pour in the balsamic vinegar to deglaze any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and cook until just a glaze remains. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Do ahead: Wash, dry, trim and halve the Brussels sprouts the day before and keep refrigerated.

You can dice your bacon, shallot, garlic and dates the day before, too, but I usually do this about an hour before I start the recipe.

If you must make this ahead, reheat gently with an extra few tablespoons of stock.

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  1. I just had a version of this at Cafe Amelie in New Orleans, and it was to die for. They used pork bacon there. I plan to make these immediately. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • This recipe is based on a dish I had at Gjelina in LA and they use pork bacon, too. My family doesn’t eat pork, so I adjusted, but if you do, go for it!!

  2. Pamela, do you think pork bacon would be too fatty in this dish? Thanks in advance!

    • Pork bacon would be fine! The restaurant which inspired this recipe uses pork bacon.

  3. Skipped the bacon They were so good that I made them again tonight, this time without the stock. I (we) actually preferred the version without they stock as the brussel sprouts were crisper. Either way is divine though, thank you!

    • So awesome that you made them again! They are so yummy. Thank you~

  4. We skipped the bacon on this recipe but it was excellent, everybody ate the brussels and that is an accomplishment. great recipe

    • Do all the vegetarians and vegans hear that? Even without bacon, this is delish!! Thank you, Jane.

  5. This was delicious and easy. I really enjoyed it. I am going to try your roasting tip for the brussels sprouts the next time. I was worried that the sprouts woulnone too firm so I kept thn on a bit longer but in the end they were mushy. Still yummy! Thank you!

    • Go ahead and roast them if you like, otherwise just test them as you’re cooking them to check for doneness. They should be tender, but not mushy.

  6. Wow, these were GREAT. . thanks

    • Happy you liked them!

  7. Made this last night and it was so delicious. Such a hit! Unfortunately, I only had frozen brussel sprouts and they were probably a little mushier than if they were fresh, but it was great. I thought I made enough for leftovers, but it was all gone at dinner.

    • I’m sure the flavor was still the same, but frozen Brussels sprouts do get mushier — not my fave. Glad you enjoyed it!

  8. These are another one of my all time favorite recipes and my husbands as well! In fact, he didn’t care for Brussel sprouts until I was testing them for Thanksgiving last year, needless to say, it’s been requested from the whole family that I make these again this year. ( I use Fakin’ Bacon, and everyone still gobbled them up ) I just made them again the other night and I was wondering how to make them crispier, did I use too much stock?

    • I think you’re asking how to make the sprouts crispier, not the fakin’ bacon? I wouldn’t say this recipe results in very crispy Brussels sprouts. They get a nice caramelization and flavor from searing them. But if you want really crispy sprouts, you can roast them first in the oven and then add to the saute pan after the vinegar and stock have deglazed it a bit.

  9. Oh now I wish I was actually cooking Thanksgiving dinner. So many yummy things to try!

    • Jackie, make them anyway! They’re fabulous~

  10. Oh, now I wish I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner! So many yummy things to try…

  11. Pamela, for the first time ever I am excited to cook Brussel Sprouts! Thank you.

    • Sounds good, Lynda! Hope you do~

  12. Thank you for this recipe Pamela! You’re the queen! I will be bringing this awesome dish to the Thanksgiving dinner we are going to.

    • Sandy, dear, if you bring these Brussels sprouts to Thanksgiving, YOU will be the queen. Enjoy!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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