By Beverly Barbour
You too can love brussels sprouts
It is true! It is hard to find anyone who claims brussels sprouts as their favorite vegetable and yet they are on almost every Christmas dinner menu. Cabbage lovers can enjoy the cute little round balls by simply boiling, broiling, or nuking them until tender and serving with nothing other than salt, pepper and butter.
Sprouts are good for you. They are full of vitamins A and C and are reported to help prevent peptic ulcers and possibly stomach cancer.
They are also inexpensive. Plus they are cute and even cuter if you buy them on the stalk. Seeing them on the stalk might interest the young who otherwise balk at chewing and swallowing vegetables.
If you have trouble selling this vegetable at your table try any one, or all, of the recipes below. They have made sprouts lovers out of the most diehard haters of cabbage and its cousins, including my hard-core sprouts hating spouse.
Sprouts with Bacon and Grapes
This combination creates an amazing triad of flavors and it is pretty to look upon. A friend made them for Thanksgiving and they were a big hit--believe it or not. Later another friend mentioned this same recipe and raved about it. First you separate the leaves from each sprout. This takes a bit of time but it can be done ahead. Give the job to one of the kids or to someone who is watching TV or listening to the radio. It's a no-brainer task. Makes 8 servings.
2 pounds brussels sprouts
Rinse the sprouts, trim stem ends and then separate into individual leaves. When you get to the light green, compact center stop. You should have about 8 packed cups of leaves to set aside. Thinly cut bacon crosswise into strips about 3/8-inch wide. Place them in a large skillet and cook until crisp; remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Pour out the bacon drippings or save for future use. Wipe any burned bits out of the pan. Add oil and garlic to the pan and stir while cooking. The garlic will start turning brown while developing a deep, nutty flavor. Return the drained bacon to the pan and then add the brussels sprout leaves. Cook, stirring until the leaves start to wilt, about 7 minutes or a little longer (depends upon size of pan). Take handfuls of grapes, hold them over the pan and lightly crush them, then drop them into the pan. Stir to combine well and season with salt and pepper. Keep in mind that the dish will continue to cook down, so be careful not to over-season. Serve warm.
Simple San Francisco Brussels Sprouts Salad
Lois Goodwill's Thanksgiving salad had everyone asking for the recipe, after they had figured out just what they were eating. She says any that any leftover is just as good the next day. She makes it a day ahead, covers it well and stores in the refrigerator. Take it from the fridge about an hour before serving. Try to choose larger sprouts for this one. You can add any fresh or dried herbs that you have on hand, if you wish. Makes 4 servings (easy to double or triple for a crowd).
1 pound brussels sprouts
Cut hard end off of each sprout. Chop quite fine. Chop the nuts and add to the sprouts. Combine 1/3 part lemon juice to 2/3 part olive oil (the ratio would be 2 tablespoons lemon juice to 6 tablespoons oil), or just make it to suit yourself. Add salt and pepper and shake together to combine well before pouring over salad. Toss salad and serve topped with the shaved cheese.
Traveling Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Colorful Carrots
This is great to take to a potluck. Separate the leaves a day ahead, seal in a plastic food bag and chill. You can saute the vegetables separately and carry them to the party. Combine there in a frying pan and cook until the leaves are slightly wilted, 10 to 14 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
2 pounds brussels sprouts
Rinse, drain and core the brussels sprouts. Separate leaves, discarding any that are bruised or discolored. In a frying pan over high heat, stir carrots, celery, onion and bacon until vegetables are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add 2/3 cup water or chicken stock and stir to release any browned bits in pan. Add the brussels sprouts leaves and stir now and then until slightly wilted, about 10 to 14 minutes. Season to taste and serve.
Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Butter
Any unused mustard butter may be stored, covered, in the refrigerator or rolled into a cylinder then frozen, until needed to perk up any vegetable that needs to have some extra appeal. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
Place butter in bowl, mince garlic or press and add to butter, add 2 tablespoons of the mustard, the scallions and parsley; mix well and then toss with salt and pepper. Set aside. Trim root ends of sprouts and remove loose leaves. Cut sprouts in half and then crosswise into fine shreds (do NOT use a food processor). Melt 1/2 cup of the mustard butter in a large skillet. Saute the sprouts about 5 minutes, until tender. Lower heat and stir in caraway seeds, more mustard butter, salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.
Let's get munching!