Friday, November 1, 2013

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts belong to Gemmifera, group of cabbages, grown for its edible buds. The leafy green vegetables look like miniature cabbages. The Brussels sprouts have long been popular in Brussels, Belgium and may have even originated there.

Brussels sprouts contain sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anticancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of the anticancer compounds, steaming and stir frying do not result in any significant loss. There are special cholesterol lowering benefits when Brussels sprouts are steamed. It is a vegetable high in protein.

Most people who do not like Brussels sprouts are haunted by childhood memories of smelly, army green, bitter, mushy globs that had to be eaten before dessert or there was no dessert. We remember how our mothers would boil the vegetables till they tasted bitter, bitter and bitter with a pungent smell that remained long after the dinner. My siblings and I could entertain you with our Brussels sprouts stories. When my mother served this vegetable each of us had our own scheme to avoid eating them. But sadly in the end our dad always managed to call our bluff. 

Brussels sprouts seem to be the "in"vegetable.  The abundance of recipes that showcase Brussels sprouts steamed, roasted and fried are amazing. So I thought I'd put my childhood memories aside, adopt a new "can do" attitude and employ a modern cooking spirit. The two biggest challenges I faced were what method to use cooking the Brussels sprouts and what recipe.  I consulted several friends who love Brussels Sprouts on their preferred cooking method and decided on roasting. I found a recipe that added a new twist to the Brussels Sprouts dish by adding in red grapes. The following recipe is perfect as a holiday side dish. And it passed the taste test with my Canadian neighbor. She tells me this vegetable is quite popular in Canada and she fixes it frequently.  
Lastly, I also was won over by the recipe with its sweet and savory taste.
  Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes
Cooking 101: Brussels Sprouts:
  • Look for Brussels Sprouts that are on the small size and tightly closed. Make sure the leaves are fresh looking and stem ends aren't too brown or dried out 
  • Wash Brussels Sprouts before starting the recipe 
  • Cut off the ends , pull off and discard outside leaves.
  • Cut in half from stem to top 
  • Roasting Brussels Sprouts brings out their deep nutty flavor.
  • For crunchy Brussels sprouts roast in oven @375. Sprinkle with salt and olive oil roast till browned about 25 minutes
  • For softer Brussels Sprouts pour 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth over sprouts cover and cook 20 minutes. Remove foil or cover and continue roasting till sprouts are browned and liquid evaporated about 10-15 minutes 
 recipe is adapted from Real Simple and serves 4
  • 3 cups Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes cut in half
  • 3 TB. olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme or 1 TB fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • Preheat oven to 375
  • In a large bowl mix olive oil, minced cloves, thyme 
  • Add in Brussels Sprouts and red grapes coat mixture thoroughly
  • On a large rimmed baking sheet spread Brussels Sprouts/Red Grapes evenly on pan 
  • Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • Turn Brussels Sprouts and red grapes cut-side down 
  • Sprinkle mixture with 1/3 cup  chicken broth and cover with foil
  • Cook 20 minutes, remove foil and sprinkle walnut pieces over Brussels sprouts and grapes, roast 10-15 minutes longer (uncovered)
  • While Brussels sprouts are cooking, fry 3 pieces of bacon, drain on a paper towel and chop-add to vegetable dish right before serving 
Two interesting options: 
  • Omitting grapes and in the last 5 minutes of cooking add in 1 cup dried cranberries and 1/4 cup pecans
  • Omitting grapes and in the last 5 minutes of cooking add in pine nuts and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Who would have ever guessed there would be so much to say about Brussels Sprouts!


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