During a recent weekend a group of friends were amazed by how many fresh vegetables could still be found at the Saratoga Springs Farmers’ Market. This led to a discussion of Brussels sprouts and the best ways to prepare them.
There were of course those skeptics who said, “There is no way to prepare Brussels sprouts that would make me like them,” and others who urged, “If you just had them prepared like (insert your own favorite preparation here), you would change your mind about Brussels Sprouts.”
It was a lively discussion that went “real” when someone proposed we should have a “Brussels Sprouts Night.” And so it began…Four friends would cook after a mad dash to the farmers’ market where they found pounds of fresh local Brussels sprouts, onions, cheese, bacon, herbs and garlic. Then the preparation and the tasting got going!
In the end the votes were evenly divided. Out of the dozen present, only one steadfastly refused to admit Brussels sprouts were good (even though that individual did finish off their plate, especially the preparation for meat lovers).
It seemed to come down to food personalities. Below, see if you can find “your personality.”
(Note: Ingredients marked * are available at the Saratoga Springs Farmers’ Market.)
Simple Brussels Sprouts
(Adapted from Ina Garten’s TheBarefootContessa.com)
- 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts *
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp. kosher salt or sea salt
- Several twists freshly ground black pepper
- Half a lemon to squeeze, plus lemon slices to garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off any worn parts (stem, outer leaves) from the sprouts. You want clean and green only. Cut any particularly large sprouts in half, to ensure even cooking. (Cut in half vertically, through the stem, to reveal the beautiful layers of leaves inside.)
Toss sprouts in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour sprouts on a sheet pan and roast for 35-40 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time to ensure even browning.
Sprouts are done when crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Take them out of the oven and squeeze half of lemon on them. If you like them salty sprinkle some more salt on and serve immediately. Garnish with lemon slices.
(Some of our tasters sprinkled fresh Parmesan cheese over top of these sprouts and thought it made the dish go from just all right to superb).
The Spicy One
(A family favorite, done from memory)
- 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts cut in half *
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped *
- ½ tsp. cumin seeds
- ½ tsp. Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- Juice from ½ lemon
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, cumin seeds and kosher salt; sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Toss with the Brussels sprouts and place all on a baking dish. Roast 20-25 minutes, and serve immediately
The Meat Lover
(Adapted from “Bacon Brussels Sprouts” by Emeril Lagasse, foodnetwork.com)
- ½ pound bacon *
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced *
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped *
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved *
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sugar, optional
In a large, deep skillet (with available lid), cook the bacon over medium-high heat until browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
Add the onion and garlic to the skillet; reduce the heat to medium and sauté 3-4 minutes until soft. Remove garlic and onion from the pan and set aside. Add the Brussels sprouts in batches and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown on the outside.
Crumble the bacon and sprinkle over the sprouts; then spoon on the sautéed onion and garlic mixture. Stir everything in the skillet, adding the salt and pepper to taste with a pinch of sugar (if desired).
Cover skillet with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until sprouts are just tender, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.
The Savory Type
(Adapted from “Thyme-Braised Brussels Sprouts,” EatingWell.com)
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small white onion, chopped *
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts trimmed *
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or “no-chicken” broth (Or use homemade from stewing hens, or chicken bones, from the Market. *)
- 1½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme or ½ tsp teaspoon dried
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a large skillet (with an available lid) over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring often, until the onion is browned and the Brussels sprouts are beginning to brown. This should take about 4 minutes.
Stir in broth, thyme, salt and pepper; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the Brussels sprouts are tender, 10-15 minutes.
Serve in a heated bowl so guests can serve themselves.