COOKING IN THE CAVE: Forget steaming/hating Brussels sprouts—try roasting/loving them instead

My mom wouldn’t let me have three things when I was young: video games, a parrot and…Brussels sprouts.

In retrospect, I can see why she forbade the Xbox and the macaw.

But her refusal to serve me Brussels sprouts because of her own distaste for them has me confused and frustrated.

I’ve been living a relatively sproutless life for 17 years. So I have been missing out big time, as they’re currently my favorite vegetable.

My most recent Octagon print article was about Jordan Younger, ‘09, and her highly successful vegan blog, The Blonde Vegan.

I used one of her roasted Brussels sprouts recipes a few weeks ago, and that started my craze.

And I’ve been trying some other new recipes that have changed even my mom’s mind.

Just as kale is in vogue, Brussels sprouts are popping up on menus everywhere.

Once they were the stereotypical icky vegetable. Now people rave about them. Perhaps it’s because steaming was the method of choice in the past.

I’ve had steamed, unseasoned Brussels sprouts—they’re awful.

But times have changed. Forget steaming!

According to Cooking Light magazine, sprouts have anti-cancerous and DNA-rebuilding properties in addition to their high iron, fiber and vitamins C, A and K content.

The popular preparation is with chopped bacon or “lardons.” But I think that’s cheating and often unnecessary (and unhealthy).

There are equally delicious non-bacon recipes out there that don’t spoil the health benefits the way bacon does.

The key to delicious sprouts is to sauté or roast them with other ingredients. No steaming—that’s what gives sprouts a bad rap.

The sprouts caramelize in the oven or over the stove, which adds great flavor and richness.

Yes, they’re a bit bitter. So when making sprouts, use the bitterness as an advantage by pairing them with something sweet, like apples and yellow onion. Dried cranberries and toasted almonds make another winning combo.

Add some soy sauce for an Asian-style stir fry, or use grated Pecorino Romano for an Italian spin.

Although I’m sure Jordan Younger has countless recipes for Brussels sprouts, she sent me one that I like for its simplicity.

She roasts them with salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. In the oven the balsamic becomes sweet and sticky. For this recipe, a squeeze of lemon is in order, too.

If steamed Brussels sprouts from your childhood still haunt you, then by all means add some bacon or pancetta to ease into the Brussels craze.

But don’t let your youthful misconceptions keep you from the joys of my favorite vegetable. If I can get my mom to eat Brussels sprouts, then anyone can!

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