When I was a freshman in college, one of the dining halls (Eva J’s — woot, woot!) periodically served up one of my all-time favorite vegetables, though every time I slid my tray to this veggie-filled hot spot with balls of greeny goodness overflowing from the warming dishes, I got the distinct impression that I was president of a fan club with a membership of zilch. Oh, Brussels sprouts, you poor things sure do get a bad rap.
I think Brussels sprouts are one of those veggies that people love to hate, and my guess is that’s largely because they’re so unfamiliar. Sure, a lot of tiny kiddos can say they don’t like Brussels sprouts, but how many of them have had them readily available on more than a handful of occasions? How many grown-ups, for that matter, have had enough veggie exposure to make such a polarizing, anti-Brussels-sprouts proclamation?
I say all this partly from personal experience. I was never one of those kids who stuck up their noses at green, leafy vegetables or good-for-you kind of cooking (unless it was pork. Or hamburgers. Or steak. Ick.), but I went 24 and half years without cooking with fresh Brussels sprouts. And when I decided to try this recipe and headed to the grocery store with fresh sprouts on the mind, I found them in a tiny bin in the corner of the produce department. Clearly they aren’t big sellers.
But once you go through the motions of finding the fresh guys, they’re super easy to work with. And for those who think of chewy, bitter blobs any time Brussels sprouts are mentioned, keep in mind that it’s all about the preparation. And a few quick tricks (i.e. maple syrup and carmelization) can make a big difference.
This recipe is another New York Times discovery, this time from Chloe Coscarelli, a vegan chef and winner of Cupcake Wars on Food Network. We stuck pretty close to Coscarelli’s original recipe, though we substituted almonds for hazelnuts (because I prefer not to coordinate my eye color and nut choice. Bahaha! Just kidding; I’m just not a fan of hazelnuts).
Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Almonds
• 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1/2 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped (optional, or you could go the ol’ hazelnut route if you prefer)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Give Brussels sprouts a good rinse. Remove outer leaves with yellow or brown spots, and cut off stems. Then cut in half.
In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper. Then spread Brussels sprouts on a large baking sheet (with raised edges), lined with foil (helps with cleanup in a major way). Place in oven.
After 15 minutes, toss Brussels sprouts with spoon or spatula to even out browning. After another 15 minutes, stir in maple syrup. Then roast for another 15 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are tender (45 minutes total roasting time).
Toss Brussels sprouts with toasted almonds (to toast almonds, spread almonds evenly on an ungreased baking sheet, place in a 350-degree oven, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almonds are a light golden hue). Bon appétit!
So what do you think? Are you willing to give Brussels sprouts the old college try? Or were you already a fan? If so, how do you like them prepared? Do you have any other favorite foods that often get a bad rap but deserve a second chance? Give us the dish!