Brussels sprouts, those poor, little, smelly, misunderstood mini cabbages. Why are they hated so? They are part of a prodigious family of vegetables from the cabbage patch including kale, broccoli, collard greens, radishes, cauliflower, kholrabi, mustard greens, turnips and more. It seems every new generation of kids is forced to eat them at some point during their childhood, seemingly as a form of punishment.
There is even a a bestselling English Christmas story, The Smelly Sprout by Allan Plenderleith, about a Brussels sprout who is tossed out in the snow on Christmas day, and then rejected by a Christmas tree, a snowman, and a fox, before finding a home for the holiday.
Growing up I loved vegetables with only a few exceptions. I particularly was not a fan of Brussels sprouts, lima beans or parsnips. When I'd see Brussel sprouts on the dinner table as a kid I'd scrunch my nose. They were always served boiled or steamed and were mushy. They had little flavor other than a tinge of bitterness, sorry mom. As an adult I'd scrunch my nose at them in the grocery store as well. And then one day while 'chasing squirrels on the webbernet' I came across a recipe for Brussels sprouts with the most delectable sounding description - "like vegetable baklava" - I just had to give them one more chance. They are now one of my ABSOLUTE favorite vegetables, and even two of my three kids eat them, willingly.
So what is the secret to my new found love? Roasting them! I cut them in half, lay them face up in a baking pan, drizzle them in olive oil or melted butter, and coat them in whatever spices suit my mood, whether it be garlic, salt and pepper, or a creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's is my favorite). Then I roast them at 425 for 20-25 minutes. The outer shell becomes crunchy, and they melt in your mouth, just like baklava. Tip - shave just the slightest bit off the outside on opposite sides before halving the sprouts and they will lay nice and flat in your pan without rolling to the sides.
Now, if only I can find a way to stop 'hatin' on the poor misunderstood parsnip! Anyone have a great recipe?