Brussel sprouts are da bomb

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Both my mother and my stepmother were rather uninspired cooks. I can never remember eating a vegetable that didn’t come from a can. Even then, the rotation was corn, peas and green beans. Strictly dullsville.

Still, my sisters and I all grew up to love vegetables. Can’t get enough of them. And I enjoy finding new ways to prepare them. Ironically, I spawned a family full of vegetable haters who would prefer that I just open a can of corn, peas or green beans and be done with it. Ah, the strange cycle of life, right?

So, anyway, on to the brussel sprouts. I have always loved those little cabbage balls. Even when I was a young cook, boiling the heck out of them until I assumed they were done, I still enjoyed them – loaded with butter and salt, natch.

Like most vegetables, brussel sprouts are low in calories (25 per half cup serving) and naturally fat-free. They are also high in vitamin C (a cancer-fighting agent), vitamin A, calcium and potassium - and here’s something I didn’t know – relatively high in protein. Protein accounts for 25% of its calories. But the protein in brussel sprouts is an incomplete protein, which means it needs to be paired with a whole grain to make it complete.

Brussel sprouts are in season right now and should be easy to find. Here is what you are looking for: Tight, compact firm heads with very few wilted or yellow leaves. The brussel sprouts should be very green in color. Or you can just head over to the freezer section and grab a bag. Either way.

Remember when we talked about roasting cauliflower? Well the recipe I am going to share here is very similar to that. Well, actually, it’s exactly the same. You just can’t go wrong with roasted vegetables. Roasted brussel sprouts get nice and brown and deliciously caramelized. They’re like candy to me. But without the chocolate.

So without further ado, here is the recipe from the Barefoot Contessa:

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt and serve immediately.

So there you have it. Pretty easy, right? If you’re going to use frozen brussel sprouts for this recipe, either defrost them in the refrigerator overnight or stick them in the microwave for a minute or two.

You can plop them, whole, on the baking sheet or cut them in half first. Your choice.

I love these really browned. The browner they get, the more flavorful they become. Oh, and if you don’t have Kosher salt, get some. So much tastier than regular table salt. It comes in a huge box that you will never finish in your entire life and it’s pretty cheap.

I was also planning to mention how you can get the same browned brussel sprout effect in a frying pan, but then I found this recipe for Golden Crusted Brussel Sprouts from 101 Cookbooks, where it is explained in much more detail than I was planning to do. And adding cheese wasn’t something that even occurred to me. Be sure to scan through the comments for more ideas.

Once you’ve mastered those simple recipes and are craving even more brussel sprouts, you might feel ready to get a little fancier (think Thanksgiving side dish). Try this recipe from Tyler Florence. Bacon and brussel sprouts are a great combination – and the walnuts will add some Omega 3’s to your dinner.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

2 (10-ounce) packages Brussels sprouts
2 ounce piece slab bacon cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash and then peel off any loose or damaged leaves from the sprouts. Trim the root end and cut each sprout in half.

Cook the bacon and walnuts in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat until bacon just begins to crisp and walnuts are toasted, about 4 minutes. Transfer the bacon and walnuts with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside. Add the Brussels sprouts to the skillet and season with salt and pepper.

Roast for about 30 minutes, add the bacon and walnuts and continue to roast until the sprouts are cooked through and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes more.

So that's it. I hope this gets you past your boiled brussel sprout memories and adds a new vegetable to your dinner table. Are you willing to give it a try? If you do, let me know what you think.


Cyndi said...

My friend, I am not feeling ya on the brussel sprouts. But then I don't like cabbage either.

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Oh no! Another fussy eater in da house! LOL Maybe you could make them for BA and he will love you for it. And then you will curse me for his gastrointestinal upset. :)

Crabby McSlacker said...

I thought I hated brussel sprouts until recently; turned out I hadn't had them properly prepared!

It's one of those "on my own" veggies though, as the Lobster will not tolerate cruciferous veggies of any sort. I generally wait until we're out to dinner to eat them, but that recipe sounds fantastic.

MomToTwo said...

Yeah, I'm not a big brussel sprout fan either. But Luke loves them. The kids will eat them, too - we call them "alien heads."

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Oh my. I certainly made a bad choice for my food of the week. LOL

Crabby - in my house, ALL vegetables are "on my own". No adventurous spirits. :(

Michelle - your kids will eat them? That's awesome! They ARE kind of fun.

midlife mommy said...

Absolutely hated them when I was little. But I love them now! Love them, love them, love them -- between that and edamame, that's all I need. I was really p.o.'d when I realized they had such a (relatively) high carb count.

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

I am constantly surprised. MLM, I thought for sure YOU would be the one to hate them. :)

carla said...

I've never eaten a one.

I've pushed em around on my plate before in an attempt to make it look as tho I have I'm a child tht way).

And now, since I HAVE A CHILD, it's time....


Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Give it a try, Mizfit - you may be pleasantly surprised. Or maybe not. :)

MomToTwo said...

I had to come back and tell you that Vivi had 4 helpings of Alien Heads last week. I roasted them (a la your recipe) but cut them in half before putting them in the oven. Even I ate one. Seriously, the little girl kept asking for more! I had to tell her "Eat your chicken and you can have more alien heads!"

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Yay for Vivi!! I love the "alien heads".