Doeden: Cooking method elevates much-derided Brussels sproutsOn a recent dinner outing with friends, I was pleasantly surprised to see Brussels sprouts on the restaurant menu. I gave the chef points for offering a vegetable that, for the past several years, has been No. 1 on the list of vegetables consumers all over the world dislike the most.
On a recent dinner outing with friends, I was pleasantly surprised to see Brussels sprouts on the restaurant menu.
I gave the chef points for offering a vegetable that, for the past several years, has been No. 1 on the list of vegetables consumers all over the world dislike the most. I believe those consumers just think they don’t care for the little cabbage look-alikes.
I’m sure sometime in their past, those people have eaten overcooked, mushy, dull, smelly and bitter-tasting Brussels sprouts. Well-prepared Brussels sprouts can be full of good flavor and wonderful texture.
When others around the table ordered soup or salad to begin the meal, I ordered the caramelized Brussels sprouts. I expected the cruciferous vegetables to be served whole, glazed and slightly sweet. Instead, I was served a plate holding something that looked like hash. It turned out to be heavenly hash.
The Brussels sprouts looked as though they’d been grated and cooked al dente with something sweet and something sour. The dish was a delightful way to begin my meal.
A cousin to cauliflower, the Brussels sprout is basically a tiny head of cabbage, another of its relatives. Brussels sprouts do in fact get their name from the capital of Belgium, where they’ve been a popular crop for more than 400 years.
Many of the Brussels sprouts we buy in our local supermarkets have been grown in California. During the cool months of our regional growing season, it’s always a treat to find the sprouts at a farmers market, still tightly attached to the thick, straight stalk they grew on.
This little vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients. With around 60 calories in one cup of cooked sprouts, you’ll get loads of vitamins C, A and E, which provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection. Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin K and folate and are a good source of dietary fiber.
Have I persuaded you to give Brussels sprouts a chance? If the healthful reasons are not enough for you, another thing to consider is their ease of preparation. You can simply toss them with olive oil and a little sweetener such as maple syrup or honey. Put them on a foil-lined baking sheet, sprinkle them with salt and roast them in a 400-degree oven for about half an hour. They will be crisp on the outside, sweet and tender on the inside.
Don’t boil Brussels sprouts. Not only will you lose some of the nutrients from the sprouts, there is a good chance you will overcook them. Overcooking Brussels sprouts results in the formation of wicked stinky compounds that can make a person decide to dislike the vegetable.
Or you can do what I did. Spend a few minutes with your chef’s knife to slice trimmed Brussels sprouts into thin ribbons. Sauté the bright green shreds in a hot pan for just a few minutes, then toss them together with bits of caramelized shallots, garlic and apples that have been sweetened with pure maple syrup. It all takes just one pan.
The result? Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Apples is a warm, flavorful, hearty and satisfying side dish (or salad) this time of year. Slightly sweet, crisp and tender all at once, you’ll think stir-fry as you eat. Bits of toasted pecans add more texture and nutty flavor.
This delectable vegetable dish can be turned into a meal when you add some cooked meat or sautéed tofu and serve it over cooked brown rice.
Now are you ready to give Brussels sprouts another chance? Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Apples is a recipe that brings out their best flavor while maximizing their beneficial vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants. What’s not to love?