Saturday, January 11, 2014

Brussels sprouts are just not funny.

I've been Googling around today, looking for something quirky to write about Brussels sprouts.  No luck.  Lots of information about their cousins (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc.), way too many boring stats about where they're grown, the usual barrage of nutritional benefits, blah, blah, blah.  They do get their name from Brussels, Belgium's capital city, because they were wildly popular there in the 16th century.  (And I do find it irritating when I see or hear the nonexistent singular form, "Brussel." Can't help it.) 

The most amusing item I found today was an NPR interview with a man who conducts and self-publishes his surveys about the things that bother him.  For example, he sat near a 4-way stop and counted how many cars came to a complete stop and how many slowed down just enough to avoid oncoming traffic.  He also conducted a survey of college students regarding their thoughts on Brussels sprouts.  The result: 54% did not like them. Most people don't and that's probably because they've only eaten overcooked sprouts that have been allowed to cross over to the dark, sulphur-y side.

Michel has a trick for making Brussels sprouts so that they turn out with a little sweetness. 
He steams them for a few minutes and then roasts them.  His recipe below calls for dried apricots, but fresh figs are also delicious when you can get them.  Have some fun using your flavored oils and vinegars. If you don't like apricots or figs, add something you like. 
And let us know the results of your Brussels sprouts survey.  

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apricots and Jalapeno

4 cups fresh Brussels sprouts
About 15 dried apricots (or fresh figs in season)
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
Olive oil
Vinegar—whatever kind you like

Preheat oven to 350.
Place dried apricots in a cup of hot water to soften for about 30 minutes. 

Bring 2 cups water to a rolling boil in double boiler with steamer insert (or whatever you use for steaming). Cut sprouts into halves and place in steamer insert over boiling water.

Cover and steam for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.

In a skillet, toast 2 tablespoons of pine nuts. (Be careful not to let them burn!)

Place rinsed Brussels sprouts in a 2-quart baking dish.
Add chopped jalapeno, toasted pine nuts, and drained apricots.
Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Stir to coat the sprouts and apricots and to hide the jalapeno from people who think they don't like it. You'll show 'em. 

Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  

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