Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation. At some point when we were kids, we heard a rumor that they were gross. They were the “punishment” vegetable kids on TV were always forced to eat. Surely they were part of a nationwide parental scheme to fool children into being “healthy.” And who even knew what they were?
Being the adventurous eater I always have been, I always wondered about this mysterious veggie that everyone seemed to hate. What about them could inspire such universal feelings of torture at dinner? My parents never served them, so I never had that childhood moment in which to whine, “But mooom, I don’t want any brusselsprouts!” They were a mystery to me, and one I wanted solved.
Brussels sprouts are pretty much mini-cabbages. If you like cabbage, you might like these sprouts. The first time I actually ate them, I fell in love. They are adorable little green bulbs. They are fairly inexpensive at certain times in the season (which seems to be right around now at New York City produce stands). They are packed with nutrients up the wazoo like most greens. They are incredibly easy to prepare.
When buying the sprouts, look for firm sprouts without damage or loose leaves (as loose leaves will have to be removed later anyway). If you hold one and give it a squeeze between your thumb and index finger it should be firm and not crunchy. Sizes will vary but they generally fall around the size of a ping pong ball or smaller. Smaller sprouts (an inch to an inch and a half) tend to have a milder flavor and are more firm and fresh. Even if the ones on sale are not that small, just try to pick sprouts of similar sizes so that they will cook at the same rate.
Recipe: Steam-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Brussels sprouts, firm and fresh.
- Cooking spray or olive oil
- Coarse salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 F
- Prepare the sprouts by pulling off any loose or damaged leaves. Cut off any remaining bit of stem. Slice in half lengthwise (as in the photo above).
- Line a baking tray with tin foil. Spray or otherwise grease the foil.
- Place sprouts on the tray, cut side facing up.
- Spray or drizzle oil lightly over the sprouts. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.
- Cover the tray with another piece of tin foil and lightly fold the edges over to form a not-quite air-tight seal.
- Roast for 15 minutes so that they get a little brown on the bottom and tender from the steam on the inside. Allow to cool slightly.
Enjoy these steam-roasted Brussels sprouts wherever you would eat other greens. I love them on their own. They go well with hearty tomato sauce and pasta dishes and red meat, though the sky’s the limit with these simple bite-sized wonders.