; Supermarket Serenade: What is the secret to loving Brussels sprouts?

Monday, November 10, 2008

What is the secret to loving Brussels sprouts?

I wanted to love Brussels sprouts.


As my container of Brussels sprouts rolled up the conveyor belt at the supermarket the cashier excitedly shared how much she loves Brussels sprouts; she loves them so much that she has them growing up the walkway to her house since that's the only area that gets sun. She continued by sharing her favorite recipe for a Brussels sprouts casserole complete with cream and multiple cheeses. I was excited.

I had never tried Brussels sprouts and I really didn't want my kids to grow up and say they've never tried Brussels sprouts either. While I'm a big fan of pretty much anything with cream and multiple cheeses, I wanted to prepare my Brussels sprouts in a less fussy (less fattening) way-they're supposed to be good for you, right? So I turned to a simple recipe from The Barefoot Contessa herself-Ina Garten, for roasted Brussels sprouts. OK so she's not necessarily known for her low fat foods, but she always has reliable recipes for sure.

I prepared them two ways-first true to the recipe and second with the addition of fresh cranberries and pepitas. So?
Yeah, no. The cartoons of my youth were right; Brussels sprouts are not yummy. I did like them a little bit raw. My 12 year old daughter and I chopped up one of the sprouts just after tossing with the oil, salt and pepper and both thought...this is good. But once out of the oven-not so much. I did however love the roasted cranberries and pepitas.
What did I do wrong? Come on Brussels sprouts lovers...what's the secret to loving them? Is it that they must be slathered with cream and cheese or is it that people just force them down like a big, bad pill knowing that they're eating something good for them? Share your secrets. I need to know.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35-40 minutes until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt and serve immediately.

My variation: Mix in 1 cup fresh cranberries and 1/4 cup roasted, salted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) and roast as directed.


The cranberry variation...well at least the cranberries and pepitas were yummy:


30 comments:

Sara said...

I actually made something really similar a few weeks back - cut brussels sprouts in half, roasted them and then tossed them with butter, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds after they came out of the oven. They were delicious!

Mary said...

I have a theory --- you know how they've discovered that there's a genetic component that causes people to like or not like cilantro? I think Brussel sprouts fall into that category. My husband loves them --- me not so much (actually not at all). At least the pomegranates saved the day.

Veronica said...

Sara, I like the sound of pomegranate with them...love pomegranate (but again I would proabably just eat the pomegranate and walnuts).

Mary, ahhh the brussel sprout gene-yeah I don't think I have it! I do have the chocolate gene though.

Brandy said...

Actually, there is a chemical found in brussel sprouts that some people can taste and some people can't. If you can taste it, it is really bitter. That is why so many people don't like brussel sprouts, they are tasters of the chemical. I wish I knew what the name of the chemical was... but now you know why you don't like them!

Emily said...

Oh your killing me! It depends on the day for me . . as to whether or not I like brussell sprouts! Sometimes they sound soooo good and then i make an incredible recipe with them and ugh . . . I can't eat they. Other days I love them with parmesan cheese or ketchup (gross I know . . . a friend got me eating them like that). I really wanted to make them for Thanksgiving last year and everyone voted me down! If you find a recipe you like let me know . . . good luck!

Allie said...

I like them as long as I'm not cooking them, for some strange reason if I cook them they're nasty. Go figure!

Karen said...

There pretty much isn't anything I *won't* eat - I like it all! But years ago I tried Brussels Sprouts and hated them. 20+ years I tried them again and love, love, love them now! It might be (as a few people mentioned) like the "anti-cilantro gene". You either love it or hate it. My opinion... give the sprouts another try sometime down the road... you might like them!

Birdie said...

I am in the love brussel spouts camp. I like them pan roasted with a little butter and garlic. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and I'm in heaven. (I know, I'm a little odd)

mesmerize138 said...

There's a very specific recipe I use for making brussels sprouts. Everybody I know who's been a skeptic about them has had to admit that they're delicious after trying this recipe.

Trust me, it's worth it ...

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/goldencrusted-brussels-sprouts-recipe.html

Candy said...

I think I love them for the same reason that I loved that "naughty motorcycle riding boy" when I was 16, I'm not supposed to! Maybe they are some sort of weird rebellion for me...Love the music today!

Veronica said...

OK memmerize138...I'm game I'll give it a go!

Candy you bad rebellious brussel sprout lovin' motorcyle ridin girl!! What music are you hearing? I don't have music on my page! (I don't think!)

Maria said...

Sorry you are not a fan! I just love them..but my husband hates them so I never make them!

Almost Vegetarian said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. As for your question ... I think there are two keys to delicious brussels sprouts. First, you have to get the best ones you can find (actually, this is true for any ingredient!). For me, this means the super fresh ones at the farmer's market instead of the old and wooden one's at my supermarket.

Second, slow, SLOW cooking in just a bit of butter (not much is needed) will give the sprouts time to caramelize.

Now, I make mine with chestnuts and that works for me. I happen to like cranberries and pepitas, but I would not mix them with brussel sprouts - it just does not sound like a good flavor combination to me (but the colors are so pretty, aren't they). But, then, everyone's tastebuds are different.

So here's hoping that helps.

Cheers!

Snooky doodle said...

brussel sprouts are not my favourite :)

kaitlyn sage said...

So. Years ago a friend of mine smoked brussel sprouts for me, and I was immediately in love.

You can do it in your oven easily too. All you do: buy smoking chips, put them in the bottom part of a broiling pan with a tiny bit of water, just so the chips are a little damp, not so much that there is water actually in the pan. (I usually just soak them, but you can pour about 1/3 cup of water over the chips) Then put the brussel sprouts, whole on the top rack part of the pan, cover tightly with foil and leave in a 175 to 200 degree oven for a couple of hours (check fairly frequently)

you end up with something completely delicious. and healthy too.

Peter M said...

For delicious B-R's...toss in olive oil oil, chopped bacon, onions, some garlic, salt and pepper and a some honey.

Roast in a 425F oven and if you still don't like them...then leave'em alone, never try them again!

Barbara Bakes said...

I have to admit I don't ever remember eating a brussel sprout either. Maybe I'm not missing much!

Jennifer said...

It's simple, bacon, or pancetta if you have to be fancy. Get the most fresh or fresh frozen brussel sprouts and lightly steam or roast them, then toss with bacon or pancetta. Good.

Tovie said...

I like Brussels sprouts but only one way, the frozen package of Baby Brussels Sprouts in Butter Sauce from the freezer department at the grocery store. I love these. But I've tried about six other recipes that looked good and haven't liked any of them, actually thought most were nasty. So I'm not sure what the secret is.

Now raw is an intriguing idea. Maybe tossed in some kind of salad...

Anonymous said...

I boil or steam them until they are tender, then apply butter, salt to taste and freshly grated nutmeg. Works for me, at least.

JJR said...

I like the brussels sprouts, but I think I like them in that "challenging" way. I think the most important thing is to cook them juuuust right--too raw and they'll be tough, too cooked and they get that sad farty flavor of old broccoli. I like to sautee them, cut, in lots of butter or olive oil. Then dress them with a mix of lemon juice, chopped garlic, and parsley, which is how I had them at an excellent tapas place one time. Oh, and don't forget to pull off the tough outer leaves--they are the bitterest.

I've heard they go great with maple, also, but haven't tried that.

That Girl said...

I LOVE brussels sprouts, but Thatboy grew up not being a fan. I've tried various methods, and he does not like roasted brussels sprouts, but he actually kinda likes sauteed brussels sprout. His favorite is when I sautee them with a little honey mustard.

Katherine Aucoin said...

I like brussel sprouts, I don't love them. I've never cooked them before because I know no one would eat them in my picky house. My mom used to season them with salt and pepper and cook them in a pan over the stove with a little butter and olive oil.

NIcole C said...

My mom grew up HATING brussel sprouts, but I made them with Giada DiLaurentis' recipe for them (a little pancetta, a little chicken broth, s&p) and she loved them! I made them during the day, not for any particular meal and we sat at the kitchen table and shared a big bowl of them.

I recommend Giada's recipe!

Veronica said...

Thank you for all the delicious suggestions! I like the bacon idea-bacon can make anything taste good. It would be great to be able to buy fresh Brussels sprouts at a farmer's market instead of the supermarket, but where I live at this time of year my only choice is the supermarket!

Grace said...

i'm curious as to the appeal of these vile little orbs as well. i've never liked any version i've tried, so your efforts and these comments are much appreciated. i'll not give up! :)

RecipeGirl said...

I happen to love them, but I think it's one of those things that you either really like or you really don't! Your recipe looks great. And that first picture is about the prettiest picture of a brussel sprout I've ever seen!!

sherilee said...

There is a lot to be said for cooking them just right--I like to either steam them stovetop, or roast them slowly in the oven. A little EVOO, S&P, and then finish off with a dusting of dill. It's pretty grand.

1freshstart said...

I haven't read through the comments so forgive me if this is a repeat... but I think they might have been overcooked.

I treat brussels sprouts the same way I treat asparagus... the flash cooking. The longer they cook, the more bitter and slimy they become and I just can't handle that. If you haven't been scarred to badly by the first try, maybe try them again without cooking them all the way through... you liked them raw, right? Just get the chill off and your good to go.

~Cat

PS: Cheese and brussel sprouts? Ick. They're mini cabbages! Vinegar... salt, pepper... that's all that's needed.

soph said...

The chemical that tastes bitter in brussel sprouts to people who genetically have the taste receptors is called phenylthiocarbamide. People you cannot detect this chemical don't percieve the bitterness and grossness.