It’s no secret I love Brussels sprouts and could eat them every day — or that Parmigiano and lemon is one of my favorite flavor combos. And so, voila, my every-night-of-the-week side dish that could also be on your holiday table with a little tweaking (see below). A super generous amount of coarsely ground Parmigiano (see tip) plus lemon juice and lemon zest combine with the sautéed sprouts for great flavor and texture. While I love roasted Brussels sprouts, I often sauté them on weeknights. The technique is a little quicker and yields a slightly firmer sprout. I quarter small ones or cut larger ones into sixths and fill a nonstick pan with enough of them that they will bump up against each other and slowly get brown and tender in about 15 to 20 minutes. (This is a slow sauté, not a fast and bouncy one!)

My biggest tip here? Don’t grate your Parmigiano Reggiano for this dish – chop it coarsely in a mini or small food processor. At first you will get pebbles, then smaller pebbles, and if you continue, something resembling sand. Any of these textures are preferable to the feathery constitution of grated Parm, which will fade into the background rather than be a starring ingredient.

Be sure you are buying true Parmigiano Reggiano; it will be labeled as such and the pieces with rind on them should show the stamp, as welll. Once you know for sure what you’re buying, look for chunks that don’t have any rind on them; you’ll get more cheese for your money when you process them.

To double the recipe: Cook two batches of Brussels sprouts ahead – instead of overcrowding one skillet – and hold them without adding the lemon and Parmigiano. When ready to serve, return them to a big pot with a tiny bit of water, cover, and heat just until steaming. Add a little butter, the lemon juice and zest, and the Parmigiano. Stir well and serve right away – with more Parmigiano!

Serves 3 to 4 as a side

  • 1 to 1 ¼ pound small Brussels sprouts, quartered (or 1 pound large, cut into sixths lengthwise)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons freshly and coarsely ground Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Crispy fried shallots for garnish (optional)*


1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1 ½ teaspoons butter in a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet over medium heat.

2. Add the Brussels sprouts and salt, turn the heat to medium high, and cook, stirring frequently, until all the sprout pieces have some browning, about 10 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add a little more olive oil, and continue to cook, stirring, until the pieces are mostly browned all over, slightly shrunken, and glistening – about 8 to 10 more minutes more. You should hear a gentle sizzle; adjust heat as necessary.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining 1 ½ teaspoons butter. Stir to combine until butter is melted.

5. Transfer to a mixing bowl or serving bowl (so that the Parmigiano won’t stick to the skillet) and stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons of Parmigiano “pebbles.” Serve right away, garnished with more Parmigiano and crispy shallots (if using).


*Crispy Shallots

Peel and thinly slice one large shallot crosswise. Heat 2 to 3 teaspoons oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until softened and nicely browned all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the shallots to a paper-towel lined plate and spread out to drain and cool.