Sunday, December 7, 2008

Little Green Balls of Death?

Did you grow up eating Brussels sprouts? I didn't. In fact, I never tried Brussels sprouts until my mother-in-law, Merri, roasted them with a little brown sugar a few Thanksgivings ago. Forking up a mouthful, I was charmed by the nutty flavor of this funny little knobby vegetable.

Why does conventional wisdom tell us that Brussels sprouts are horrible? What forms of this vegetable did your mothers inflict upon you that you hate it so much? I've heard rumors of boiled mounds of slime: is this true? My own mother never prepared Brussels sprouts in any form. Perhaps she had to eat too many servings as a kid, or perhaps her years in the Army turned her off any cruciferous vegetable that she did not prepare with her own loving hands. That'll do it, I hear.

In any event, I approached my first Brussels sprout dish with the dewy innocence of a novice and the arrogance of a freshman. How hard can this be, I thought to myself, hefting a bag in my hand.

Well, the answer is that it's not hard at all, if you shred the Brussels sprouts into a slaw and roast them under high heat. As you can see in my photos, I let the Brussels sprouts sit a tad too long in the oven, resulting in some deep caramelization. However, over-roasted Brussels sprouts still aren't awful enough to merit the kind of dissing this veggie gets. It just ain't fair, people.

So, I'm telling you: roast 'em, top 'em with some good Parmigianno-Reggiano and a squeeze of lemon, and you're in business.

Shredded Parmesan Brussels Sprouts
From this Melissa Rubel recipe in Food and Wine

3 pounds of Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano
Squeeze of lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor fitted with a slicing blade, coarsely shred the Brussels sprouts. On two large rimmed baking sheets, toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and spread in an even layer. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are tender and browned in spots; rotate the pans and stir the Brussels sprouts halfway through roasting. Sprinkle with the cheese, toss and bake for 1 more minute, or until the cheese is melted. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a bowl and serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Serves: 8 side portions

The title of this post comes from the the blog Acorns, in which the author interviewed a Brussels sprouts vendor who described his own product as "little green balls of death" and opined that his customers only buy Brussels sprouts if they really dislike their neighbors.


Claire said...

my mom hates them too! what did Oma do to those kids that they hate brussel sprouts? i adore them

Foodycat said...

My grandmother could reduce the crispest, squeakiest little brussels sprout to a grey slimy sulphurous bubble. So it's only in the last couple of years that I have come to appreciate them.

Anonymous said...

I so agree with you - no clue why brussel sprouts (or any vegetable for that matter) have a bad wrap. I'm sure more kids would eat their veggies if everyone didn't assume they would hate them. Though can't remember eating much brussels as a kid - lots of green beans and cabbage though! :)

muddywaters said...

We've started allowing our daughter to plan one meal a week. She can have anything as long as it doesn't involve chicken nuggets or french fries. Two weeks ago she wanted roasted turkey, rice, and brussel sprouts. We simply steamed them, but I prefer them roasted. YUMMY!

A few weeks ago, I saw a picture of a brussel sprout stalk. The plants look like an alien life form. It freaked me out a bit.

Krysta said...

it's funny... my kids love the little green balls of death and when they tell their friends that, everyone is shocked. i think it's one of those things that either they have never had them prepared right or they just copy what everyone else says and i agree that ain't right!

Aggie said...

I love brussel sprouts...roasted is the best! I am thinking I need to make them shredded next time, adding parmesan sounds delicious too!!

Devon said...

I always laugh when people turn their nose up at Brussel Sprouts. Maybe they have had boiled to death ones?Or soggy made from frozen? I didn't grow up eating them and now eat them practically every day in season. Yum....