roasted brussels sprouts

From the moment I was weaned and started dining on solid food, I’ve disliked eggs. The taste, the smell, the texture, all of it. Nevertheless, every six months or so I take a bite off someone’s plate just to see if my tastes have changed… they haven’t, but I still hold out hope that one day they will.

That said,  I find this gastronomic steadfastness somewhat impressive — if not perplexing — given my otherwise ever expanding tastes.  Foods I once found so odious as a child — mushrooms, olives, raw spinach, brussels sprouts — I now find delicious and even difficult to live without. The egg, for whatever reason, remains odious.

But today’s blog isn’t about my adversarial relationship with the egg — though for the sake of working things out perhaps it should be — but rather my transcendent one with the brussels sprout… a far more rewarding and interesting one.

You see, up until about year ago, the much maligned brussels sprout — that bitter, gaseous dwarf of a cabbage — was as difficult to swallow as the egg. But unlike the ubiquitous egg, the opportunities to challenge my taste buds were virtually nil, being more a question of availability than cahones (see; will). Because seriously, who — outside of someone born prior to 1950 or a Belgian — would order brussels sprouts at a restaurant when they had a whole menu of other side dishes to choose from. I’m just saying.

But like so many other things in life, it’s often about timing or coming at something from a different angle. I was fortunate enough to be privy to both when my mom decided to go out on a limb and not only serve brussels sprouts to a potentially — and I’m being kind here — “non-receptive” audience (my sisters and I), but to resist her greater impulses and not to fall back on her traditional boil and butter method that she found so…well… traditional.

What came to the table that evening was nothing short of a wonder; not only was it not the traditional sprouts we were all dreading, but it was a revelation to boot. Ridiculously so, in fact, especially given where these sprouts previously sat on our list of things “we’d most not like to ingest at meal time”.

Crunchy, salty, olive oily; they were the perfect blend of texture and flavor. None of the characteristics that marred the vegetable prior to this method lingered — or rather, they were transformed into deliciousness.  And surprisingly, even cold the next day, with none of the crunchiness, they were still amazing.

Sometimes a bad reputation is earned by way of a misunderstanding, and I’ll state it here that the brussels sprout is a good example of that. The misunderstanding being, what method of cooking best brings out their hidden tasty goodness. Now, if you’re like most people I’ve met, you’re probably locked into a particular way of preparing these things, and that’s fine if you want to continue to perpetuate their bad reputation. But if you want to elevate their status into the pantheon of foods you just can’t live without and recipes that will wow and impress your friends, then put away that pot of boiling water, ditch the butter, break out the olive oil and fire up that oven… you’ve got roastin’ to do.

Oh, and when you’re doing your shopping for these lovely, green enigmatic things, make sure to bring a really big bag.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Recipe:

Coat copious amounts of brussels sprouts with olive oil and place evenly onto a cookie sheet. Salt with sea salt to your liking (slightly salty seems to be best). Roast in a preheated 375° oven for around 30 or 40 minutes depending on the size of the sprouts or until golden brown (you want them to be crunchy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside). Shake the pan from time to time for even browning. Eat immediately!

Bonus tip: They are also great cold or on salads.


3 comments on “change; one brussels sprout at a time

  • A friend of mine who was coming out at the time — and, I think, was a bit nervous about how close we were getting — told me that women and men were, for him, like brussels sprouts and cheesecake; sometimes you really want a sprout, but normally, given the choice, it’s hands-down cheesecake. On seeing my expression, he tried to assure me that he really _liked_ brussels sprouts. Nevertheless, when he later made a delightfully indecent proposition, all I could think was, “I _refuse_ to be a brussels sprout,” and we remained simply friends.

    I’ve never quite recovered from that, and hitherto have eaten brussels sprouts purely as a gesture of good will. However, it might be time to try again. Too bad I don’t have an oven.

  • Hilarious. But all that said, when roasted, it’s really easy to embrace the sprout. As for the oven, well, remedies abound.

  • I remember you trying one at your folks place in Palm Desert and being rather surprised at how much you liked them. I’m not sure if it had anything to do with them being paired with lobster though =)

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