Brussels Sprouts… Friend or Foe?

Vintage Brussels Sprouts

When I was a child, I loathed brussels sprouts.  I thought they looked cute, but they smelled disgusting.  I remember on the rare occasions I was coerced into having them, I was not impressed.  Usually the bribe here was a slice of chocolate cake or an ice cream sandwich.  However, as an adult, my tastes have changed.  So has the general opinion of brussels sprouts.  Many restaurants in Los Angeles have reinvented the way this Brassica vegetable is prepared in new, contemporary ways – such as wrapping them in bacon or prosciutto, grilling them in foil over an open flame, or tossing them into a salad whole.  Cleo, the restaurant in the Redbury Hotel, deflowers the brussel by shedding all of the leaves, and baking them like potato chips – making a very savory snack.  At a recent dinner party, I decided to sample a single brussel from a platter.  They had been baked in the oven, and smelled wonderful.   The taste was sensational and sultry.  I wondered exactly how one can make these at home, so online I went in search of a great brussels sprout recipe.

My findings took me to an incredible blog called Fannetastic Food.  Run by a dynamic, eclectic woman named Anne, her blogpost about brussels indicated that one has to cut off the nasty stalk of the sprout to avoid that sick, bitter taste many of us have experienced.  One can visit her brussels article here:    Using her recipe and article as a base, I created my own recipe for Baked Brussels Sprouts, which I’ve made quite often recently, and they always turn out delicious.

Gently wash all of the brussels sprouts. Then cut off the stalk of ill repute (above), and dispose of said stalks in the garbage.  Then, cut each brussel in half.  Some of the leaves may fall off – gather them together for later.  After the cutting is complete, take the random loose leaves and brussel halves and put them in a plastic bag.  A zip lock bag works well for this, or one can use a plastic grocery bag.  Drizzle some olive oil in the bag, and add imitation bacon bits, sea salt, lemon pepper, garlic powder, and a little chili powder to the mix.   (Feel free to play with the spices; I always do).  Then, move and shake the brussel mixture, until the olive oil and spice are covering each brussel part.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 – 425 degrees.   Oven temperatures vary, and I’ve tried both temperatures in mine, and each work equally well.  Next, take a cookie sheet and cover it with foil.  Grease the foil any way you would like.  I use a non-stick cooking spray, or olive oil.  Place the brussel halves and leaves upon the cookie sheet.  Bake the brussels uncovered for about 15 – 20 minutes , or until you feel they are done.  Play with it, and judge accordingly.  Below is an example of what my finished product typically looks like.

The Brussels Sprout earned its name from Brussels, Belgium, as they were one of the chief vegetables produced there in the sixteenth century.  The were introduced to the English and French in the nineteenth century, coming to the United States shortly thereafter in Louisiana.  By 1939, brussels were being grown in the central valley of California, where they are still primarily grown today for American consumers.  From a feng shui standpoint, the brussels sprout is a wonderful example of the wood element, being that it is derived directly from a plant, and for its calming green hues.  The shape of the brussel is more metallic.  Circles and spheres are metal in their elemental origin, and are considered very welcoming to people.  I think brussels are also very attractive – almost like pygmy cabbages.  They are also rich in Vitamins K, A, C , fiber and sulforaphane, and are excellent at lowering cholesterol.  For my next experiment in brussels cuisine, I’m going to try a brussels sprouts soup…which I think I will make later in the week.