Saturday, February 03, 2007

Do you hate Brussels sprouts?

According to Wikipedia, Brussels sprouts won the distinction of being the "most hated vegetable" in a 2002 survey in Britain. Surprised? But they are so good for you!

These dainty cabbages are loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, fiber, and lip smacking phytochemicals. They are cruciferous vegetables, the vegetables nutritionists are always recommending.

I like broccoli, cauliflower, even cabbage... other cruciferous vegetables, but Brussels sprouts? Yikes. They taste bitter, downright caustic when I steam or boil them. I want to like them but I can't get them down. It's something about the sulfur that gets released when they are cooked.

Someone I love cooked them for me a while back. "For me" is the operative phrase here. She found the recipe in a magazine and decided to try it. She knew I was a cruciferous zealot (she is not). The smell of Brussels sprouts wafted through the house....that unmistakable smell...oh joy. Then there was the unveiling. I was surprised when she opened the oven door. They were deep walnut brown. Oh great, I thought, not only are they Brussels sprouts, they are burned!

I tried one. The outside leaves were crisp and the inside was smooth, chewy, almost nutty in bitterness! I couldn't believe it...they were delicious! She thought so too. We finished the whole serving in one sitting. I couldn't believe I was loving Brussels sprouts.

A few weeks later I asked for the recipe. She admitted she lost it. She wasn't sure what she added to the Brussels sprouts.."you know, the normal things." I didn't know. Brussels sprouts were never normal for me.

So I set out to replicate the memory of that treat. Here are the results of my research. Key to the good taste is to incinerate the little darlings. Something magic happens in that extra hot oven.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Wash a pound of fresh Brussels sprouts in a colander and trim the stem end with a sharp knife. Peel any dried or unclean leaves from the outside.

Cut them in half if they are small or quarters if they are large.

Transfer cut Brussels sprouts to a plastic bag and add a tablespoon of good olive oil and up to a half teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper (less if you like light pepper). Close the bag and shake the contents until the oil and pepper are well dispersed through the vegetables.

Pour onto lipped cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables and return to the oven for another 15 minutes until Brussels sprouts are dark walnut brown (really, incinerate them). Salt to taste and serve immediately.

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At 12:43 PM , Anonymous Veggie Queen said...

Have you ever tried roasted kale?

It's strange but sometimes it is just the right kind of crunch. Use a really hot oven (in the 400 range) and place kale leaves on a cookie sheet. Spray with a little olive oil. I have an oil sprayer I got at a cooking store I fill with my own oils. Salt lightly if you want. Roast in the oven. Stay close and check frequently because it will cook really fast. When leaves are crisp remove from the oven and serve immediately.

I know they are odd but sometimes I really want something crunchy and healthy. Check the mirror before you go out in public because dry kale likes to stick to your teeth! :)


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