I sometimes find it hard to believe that I have become such a die-hard advocate of these mini cabbages. If you are a Brussels sprouts lover then you share my delight in these great, green vegetables of winter. If, however, you are like the old me, you probably experience them as stinky and repulsive.
I find that most people who don’t like the Brussels sprouts have been subjected to them at an early age with a terrible cooking technique. My mom, (who is a great cook of so many other things), boiled them whole for an excessive amount of time. The whole house smelled like there was some sort of sewage disaster. This is not a good start to a relationship with any vegetable. I decided that I couldn’t stand them for about twenty years.
Then one day (about 10 years ago) I was making a wild pheasant dish. It was an Italian-inspired recipe that included Brussels sprouts. I didn’t think I would actually eat any of the bird nor the vegetables (I was cooking for a friend who had hunted the pheasant and it was about as high on my list as Brussels sprouts were at the time). The recipe asked for the sprouts to be cut in half or quarters if they were large. Revolutionary! That simple step is where the love affair began. When you cut them in half, you reduce the cooking time to about 15 minutes. I added savories like garlic and shallot and fresh thyme as well. When the dish was done I was not only converted to liking pheasant, but it started my obsession with winning people over to this veggie.
From a health standpoint, Brussels sprouts are packed with 161% of your vitamin C for the day with just one cup. They are also off-the-charts high in vitamin K , and a healthy dose of folate and vitamin A.
My 15 year-old daughter Chiara loves them and has been a fan most of her life. My 10 year-old nephew Gabriel woke up when he was about seven and actually asked for them for breakfast one day!
Brussels sprouts are currently on my appetizer menu at Catelli’s restaurant. I sauté a tiny bit of pancetta, olive oil and garlic, add the sprouts (that I’ve cut into quarters), chili flakes, salt and pepper and that’s it.
Another great preparation is for a salad. You need to cut them thin, like mini cole slaw, coat them liberally with fresh lemon juice (use Meyer lemons if they are available), extra virgin olive oil, fresh Italian parsley, sea salt, cracked pepper and a bit of shaved Parmesan cheese. Delicious!
If you are in the category of “no way,” or scared, and/or disgusted by this cruciferous veggie, check out the full recipe on www.bemomalicious.com and see if you can make the conversion.
Until next time, stay fresh and delicious!
~ Chef Domenica