3 Things to Try Before Writing Off Brussel Sprouts

by Elizabeth on December 17, 2013

I know a lot of people have bad associations with brussel sprouts, often drawing upon memories of being forced to eat them as kids – I remember my first experience was with brussel sprouts that had been boiled, the result of which was watery brownish-green lumps that tasted like something that might live in a swamp. So if you’re only experience with these cruciferous vegetables is anything like that I encourage you to try one of the following:

1. Roasting – Roasting brings out the natural sugars, caramelizing the exterior of the brussel sprouts and helping to mellow some of the bitterness. Just slice them in half, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper before spreading on a baking sheet and cooking at 400°F for about 35 minutes. I like adding lemon or a drizzle of vinegar.

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2.  Chiffonade – Fancy name for thin-slicing (not the Malcolm Gladwell kind). When I first tried them I couldn’t believe how I’d overlooked this method for most of my adult life. It just seemed so OBVIOUS (after the fact). Since then I’ve been making up for lost time and prepare them this way whenever I have the chance. Make sure you use a sharp chef knife and secure your cutting board (folding a wet paper towel and putting it underneath your board is an easy DIY method). Here’s a demo video of chiffonading (think I made that word up?). An added benefit of this method is that it cuts down on cooking time (smaller pieces + extra surface area = a quick saute). For a basic prep follow the same steps above (olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic optional) but instead of a baking sheet you can do this directly in a fry pan. Cook on medium high heat, stirring every so often. It shouldn’t take much more than 5 minutes before they become tender and turn a nice golden color.

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3. Add fat. You’ve probably seen countless recipes pairing bacon and brussel sprouts and there’s a reason for that. As we all know, the best recipes are about balancing flavor and the pungent earthiness of the sprouts is amazingly complimented by the savory richness of the bacon. (I would put money on converting 75% of sprout-haters with this method alone.) But if you’re vegan/vegetarian or just don’t like bacon, try adding nuts or cheese (or both!) Walnuts, almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts are a few of my favorites but you can really throw in any kind you like and you won’t be disappointed. A grating of fresh parmigiano-reggiano or the addition of a crumbly blue cheese is another hit in our house. You can use either of the first two prep methods above before mixing in the fat of your choice. The nuts can be roughly chopped and tossed in raw or if you have an extra two minutes you can toast them to really “turn up the volume” as Barefoot Contessa says. (Apologies. For some reason that’s what popped into my head as I was writing but truth be told, despite my love for Ina, it makes me cringe a little).
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One more thought on balance – adding fruit to brussel sprouts can also help create a complex flavor profile; as a general rule I’m usually against mixing fruit into savory dishes but there are exceptions and the recipe I made last night (shown below) is one of them.

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Here is a printable link  for Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Pistachios and Pomegranate.

 

Image Credits:
1st whiteonricecouple.com
2nd janelear.com
3rd alittlepieceofsunshine.com

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