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Spotlight on Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are having a bit of a moment. I have heard more about these guys in the past month than I have in perhaps my entire life. They are everywhere. Perhaps because they’re in season, but perhaps it’s something more. Since they’re in season for about 5 more minutes, I thought I’d write about these little guys while I still had the chance.

For whatever reason, Brussels sprouts are synonymous with horrible vegetables when you’re a child. I can’t even remember being served them very often, but I remember saying I hated them. This could be because of my still-developing taste buds, or, more likely, because I heard one of my friends saying I didn’t like them. Part of the blame could fall on the misguided decision of moms around the world to boil vegetables back in the day. This not only tastes terrible but can also waste the important nutrients found in many veggies.

It turns out, though, that Brussels sprouts not only taste great but are fairly versatile and easy to prepare. I was in my friend’s kitchen a few months ago, and my comrades were shocked that I didn’t regularly cook with them. One person told me to sauté them with some oil, salt and pepper. Another told me to bake or broil them in the oven.

Next, my college professor/mentor, on whom I still have an intellectual crush, wrote a blog post about his experience buying Brussels sprouts from the farmers market and having to remove them from their giant stalk for the first time in his life. In addition to being adorable, this blog post also showed me my first picture of Brussels sprouts on the stalk that I’ve possibly ever seen.

So, finally, a little over a week ago, I decided these little guys were going to be the side dish with dinner. Thanks to the fact that they are in-season, I got a pretty big container of them at a good price at the grocery store. And, after a bit of trial and error, I’ve decided that I prefer my sprouts stir-fried. I did find that letting them simmer with some olive oil for about 5 minutes with a lid on, followed by 7-ish minutes of medium-heat stir-frying, helped them get tender all the way through without too much charring on the outside.

And finally, I’ve seen reference to this recipe in so many places I’ve lost track, but the Brussels sprouts hash is probably worth your while. No matter what, if you haven’t given them a chance since you turned up your nose as a kid, you should give Brussels sprouts a try.

3 replies on “Spotlight on Brussels Sprouts”

Love Brussell sprouts. Only know one way to fix them–am not a versatile cook, stick to what works for me. First I halve them. Saute with olive oil, then add french fried onions, chicken broth, let them simmer. Add s and p to taste. Yum. Thank you Stew Leonard’s for the recipe.

This is just one more of those things that I was into WAY before they got trendy. Brussels sprouts were ruined by two things: canning and then freezing. Both of these processes destroy cell walls and the structural integrity of the sprout, rendering them mushy, gross, and in the worst cases gray. Freezing sprouts (and every other vegetable) took off after Clarence Birdseye perfected a quick freezing process after WWI. And frozen foods really took off after WWII, so boomers all remember these horrible grey balls of squish that used to be brussels sprouts. Hate blossomed, cultivation declined, and now only cool, way ahead of the curve kids and poncy nouveau chefs use them. I am not a poncy nouveau chef.

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