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Friday, April 22, 2011

Brussels Sprouts: Garden Ex-Patriate

Brussels sprouts were first cultivated in Belgium (hence the name "Brussels" sprouts) in the 1500s, and introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s. Odd, though; this delectable alien isn’t mentioned as a classic Belgium food in the culinary portion of the Brussels Travel Guide. Perhaps our dear sprouts grew tired of playing second fiddle to a stupid waffle, and upon voluntary exile from its native land, lost all rights and privileges of birth. Tant pis Belgium, I say.

Brussels sprouts are cruciferous veggies containing high amounts of vitamins A, C, K, and folate, plus 4 grams of dietary fiber. These luscious buds are also rich sources of phytochemicals (also know as plant food) which boosts cell repair and might just cause cancer cells to commit suicide. Plus, they promote supple skin, digestive health, and a myriad of other health benefits.
You! Stop being a Brussels sprouts hater and give this garden super star its props. As long as they're cooked with respect, they'll maintain their dignity, won't stink up the house, and you will love them. You will!
In The World’s Healthiest Foods cookbook, George Mateljan suggests trimming and cutting a pound of fresh Brussels sprouts in quarters, then steaming them for 5 minutes. Afterwards, dress them with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 2 medium cloves of garlic, and sea salt and pepper to taste. And they are really, really good like this.
However, my little garden sprouts are too tender to steam that long! I trim and cut them in half, then, in a sauté pan, I add a few tablespoons of water with salt and quickly heat to boiling. Next, I toss all the sprouts in the sauté pan, add a pat (not a stick) of organic butter on top, and cover for one minute on medium high heat. Remove the cover, stir around to scrape any delicious carmelized bits off the bottom of the pan, add a little tamari if desired and romp on those goodies.

For an extra good treat, sauté some shallots in butter or olive oil and add to the sprout pan at the end, or just cook at the same time in the same pan. I simply prefer my shallots to be carmelized more.
Of course you can roast them for 40 minutes or so in a 400 degree oven after trimming and dressing with salt and olive oil, but why torture them? Yes, sprouts are delicious roasted, but I urge you to experiment with a shorter cooking time to maintain the nutrient integrity of the sprout. Not only that, but high heat changes the chemical structure of oil, and not for the better.
Rebellious vegetable, or limp waffle? Whose side are you on?
Tant pis is French for too bad. 40% of Belgium residents speak French; 60% speak Flemish.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Miss Lynn - never liked brussels sprouts until my Italian friend roasted them and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Haven't had the nerve to try them any other way...maybe I will now! xoxoxo t