I’m going to do something here that I thought I’d never do; put four words together that before last night I would have laughed at if you’d told me I’d say them…
Brussels sprouts are delicious.
Yes, I’m as surprised as you are!
When lovely Shelley (from the farmers’ markets I go to) recommended them, I listened to myself saying, “ew no, I don’t like Brussels sprouts” and I knew it was time to try them again. I usually baulk when someone turns their nose up at something and refuses to try it for fear of what it might taste like – and here I was doing exactly the same thing.
It’s not that they aren’t an amazing veggie – they have all the wonderful health properties of cabbages and look pretty amazing growing up a stalk like a strange largerphone or monkey stick. But if they were smelly, mushy, foul-tasting and impossibly abundant as a child, then you may be like me and have forever abandoned them from your diet.
Up until now! Shelley suggested to either put them in a stew or sauté them in garlic just enough to cook them and not make them mushy. But then I looked at Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s book Veganomicon and their suggestion was to simply roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper (see their recipe below).
The result – wonderful! They tasted like a fresh, slightly sweet, nutty-ish cabbage but much more subtle and delicate. No mush, no overpowering taste just moreish.
Was it because they were small, fresh and locally grown? Have my tastebuds changed that radically since I was a child or was it the way they were cooked? I’m assuming all three and my enjoyment of them has once again taught me the lesson of trying things again – you never know what you might enjoy this time around.
- Choose smallish sprouts with no yellow leaves – this indicates age and supposedly can indicate bitterness
- The smaller the sprout, the better the flavour – older, larger sprouts will often be bitter or unpleasant tasting
- Buy them firm, compact and bright green, not puffy and soft
roasting Brussels sprouts
- Wash the sprouts to remove any grime, then cut them in half (you can remove any stem but it will cause some leaves to fall off, so I left them and they cooked well)
- Coat in olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and place cut-side down in an oiled baking tray
- Roast for 15-20 minutes in a 180°C/350°F oven. When ready, the cut side should be brown and crispy in places
- Crushed/minced garlic can be added 5 minutes before they are done if you want to make them garlicky.
Brussels sprouts with chilli and hazelnuts
2 tbsp ev olive oil
6 drops sesame oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
400g Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
½ brown onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or minced
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
½ cup hazelnuts, pan roasted and skins removed (rubbing them in tea towel once roasted is effective in removing skins)
1 small red chilli, finely chopped (or ½ tsp sambel olek)
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped olives (optional)
- heat olive and sesame oil in a large frypan
- add mustard seeds and cook for 1 min then add onion, garlic, herbs, nutmeg and chilli, and saute until translucent
- add the mirin and stir through
- add the Brussels sprouts and stir into the onion mix
- cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the sprouts are just soft
- stir through the olives, if using, and serve with a drizzle of ev olive oil
Great as a side dish or served with brown rice or quinoa. Some ready-to-eat tempeh would go well also.
Other ways of preparing are to saute in olive oil or butter, steam them lightly or add to stews. My friend Lucy even picks off the leaves and uses them raw as the base of a salad. How do you enjoy them?