Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website   Read more about this blog.
Posted: October 15th, 2011
Eating outside the box: Even if you hate Brussels sprouts, you will love these

Brussels sprouts are a vegetable everyone loves to hate. It’s the liver of the vegetable world. But I have to tell you, they are such a healthful food, they really deserve a shot on your dining table. And I have THE best recipe for making them that everyone will like. (See box.)

Before we get into that, let’s take a closer look at the nutritional bang Brussels sprouts give for the buck. Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli, cabbage, kholrabi  and cauliflower–a powerhouse vegetable, that if cooked properly (read: NOT boiled) provides a powerful anti-cancer chemical called sulforaphane. In addition, Brussels sprouts also have cholesterol lowering benefits, provide a good source of fiber  and Vitamins A, C and E, which are a common combination in vitamin pills. And as we all know, better to eat our vitamins than swallow them. Additionally, they are rich in folate, potassium, vitamin K, and beta carotene. Superfood.

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1/2 c chopped bacon (or substitute 1/2 tsp of liquid smoke and 1 Tbl oil)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1.2 tsp caraway seeds
1 small onion (diced)
1 T white vinegar
1 1/2 lb of brussels sprouts
salt and pepper

Halve the sprouts lengthwise. Blanche for five minutes in boiling water, remove, drain, and shock in ice bath until cool. Drain and set aside.
In a large pan, saute bacon with caraway for two minutes. (If vegetarian, just add 1 tbl oil and liquid smoke to proceed, adding caraway with the following.) Add onion, thyme, salt and pepper and stir occasionally until onion caramelizes and bacon is cooked. Add vinegar and scrape bottom. Combine Brussels sprouts with mixture, toss and refrigerate. Allow to set for two hours. Bring to room temperature or warm before serving.
Note: Sometimes I add dried cranberries and walnuts to this to add the sweet to the salty.

Why do people hate them? Ahh, the answer is in the preparation. Like liver, it’s meat counterpart, brussel sprouts are often relegated to one style of cooking. In the case of liver, it’s frying. With brussel sprouts, it’s boiling water–possibly the worst way to eat them if you want to preserve their nutrients and cancer-fighting potential. I also think they lose their taste as well. Brussel sprouts tend to be bitter, so chefs often recommend counteracting that with sweet or even savory ingredients. Or both, which my recipe does.

Before you start working with Brussels sprouts, I have to defer to my ex-husband, the former chef and mentor who gave me the confidence to cook. He taught me–after removing the yellow and damaged outer leaves and trimming off the bottoms–to score the bottoms with an X. This helps tenderize the stem and inner leaves, which can sometimes be tough even after cooking. Then place them in a water bath mixed with several tablespoons of vinegar and let soak for 10 minutes. Apparently, vinegar can help kill bacteria and germs. Rinse well and then proceed with your recipe prep.

I made these pan-roasted Brussels sprouts last Thanksgiving (see box) and even those who proclaim visceral hatred for the vegetable enjoyed them. Branch out and try some of these recipes as well: Brussels Sprouts in Cheese SauceMaple Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts (vegan, vegetarian), Brussels Sprouts Romaine Wraps (gluten free, dairy free), Brussels Sprouts Salad with Orange Vinaigrette (raw vegan).


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One comment on “Eating outside the box: Even if you hate Brussels sprouts, you will love these

  1. The Healthy Apple on said:

    Thank you so much for including me in this. I love Brussels Sprouts!
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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