How is it that Brussels sprouts came to be hated so much? While they, like beets and arugula, are making a culinary comeback as of late, showing up in gourmet food trucks and increasingly being featured on recipe blogs, the majority of people I talk to still seem to have some reservations about this adorable little veggie.
There seem to be three primary reasons why people avoid the Brussels sprout:
1. It’s bitter
2. It’s smelly
3. It’s a gassy food
My recipe will prove them wrong. Using a classic accompaniment of this ingredient and jazz it up with a few of my favorite spices. As for the naysayers? Here is how my recipe thwarts your argument.
1. The balsamic vinegar, lemon, and ginger subdue the bitterness, adding a gentle tang and zest
2. The molasses caramelized in the oven, filling your kitchen with the smell of sugar and spice
3. Like cabbage, Brussels sprouts only make you gassy if they are boiled. The prolonged exposure to the extreme heat breaks down the healthy fibers and becomes harder to digest. While eating cabbage and Brussels sprout raw is the best solution to this, a quick broil, saute, or steam will cook them properly without damaging the healthy compounds within. (Thank you to the ever-impressive Alton Brown for teaching me that!: )
Need another reason to eat Brussels Sprouts? It’s one the healthiest vegetables around! One raw cup of this veggie packs almost 200% the daily recommended amount of Vitamics C and K, and also promote heart health, DNA stability, and support white blood cell strength. It’s also a great source of iron, Vitamin A, manganese, and fiber. Not to mention it contains only 37 calories. Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which some studies have shown to have cancre-fighting properties (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/diet/cruciferous-vegetables). Other vegetables in this family are cabbage, as well as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, wasabi, horseradish and bok choy. It’s also a great way to take advantage of seasonal vegetables. Cabbages and other cruciferous vegetables grow best in the late summer and naturally mature in the fall, making this a great nutritional and environmental choice.
Read more about Brussels sprouts’ nutritional qualities here: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=10
There are lots of ways to cook Brussels sprouts without steaming them soggy and drenching them in butter. One year my aunt serves them at Thanksgiving, grilled with smokey prosciutto and walnuts! It was so delicious. Even my vegetarian mother was eyeing them. They are usually served with various cuts of pork, because both Brussels sprouts and pork are complemented with sweeter, fruit flavors. Here are a few other ideas for Brussels sprouts, courtesy of one of my favorite magazines, Real Simple: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/popular-ingredients/brussels-sprouts-recipes-00100000088372/index.html#2
Are you ready to meet your new favorite vegetable?
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup molasses or brown sugar
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger or ginger powder
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1. Start by preheating your oven to a high broil
2. Next clean your Brussels sprouts. Chop off the stem at the bottom and remove the outer dark leaves only if they look torn or are full of wholes. There are also usually a bit soggy, so it will taste better without them.
3. Cut eat sprout in half. Rinse thoroughly. Shake out any excess water
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients.
5. Add the Brussels sprouts and toss gently in the marinade until most of the liquid has been soaked up into the sprouts. Like cabbage Brussels sprouts have layers of leaves, and the marinade will seem into these.
6. Pour the sprouts and any extra marinade into a greased sheet pan. Broil on the middle rack for about 10 minutes. If there is a lot of extra marinade, shake the pan every few minutes to redistribute the sauce and get more coverage on the sprouts.
7. Switch to top rack and broil for another 5-10 minutes, until the tops are slightly burnt and the marinade is bubbly and sticky.
8. Serve immediately!
My family absolutely loved this recipe. The sweet-and-salty crunch make them addictive and best served alongside a nice grilled salmon, chicken, or just plain!