Hate Brussels Sprouts? So Did I

by | Oct 27, 2008

Kids and adults alike are often united in their hatred of Brussels sprouts. When I was young, Brussels sprouts were at the very top of my gross foods list, just barely inching out slimy spinach and chalky lima beans. Yuck!

It was not until I got to college that I learned spinach is not really slimy. Turns out it is actually a leaf and surprisingly delicious! I didn’t realize I had been eating frozen spinach my entire life. What a relief!

Over time I learned that many foods I never liked were not as bad as I thought. I grew to appreciate fennel, avocado, cilantro and even beets, but I never could develop a taste for Brussels sprouts.

A few years ago when I started getting serious about vegetables and health, I made a decision to conquer my last few food aversions. Eggplant was something I always struggled with, but I learned that a few kitchen tricks could turn it into a delicious meal. This past summer I was finally able to embrace cucumbers.

After all this, overcoming my aversion to Brussels sprouts is my proudest accomplishment.

I have found that for most foods I do not enjoy, ordering them at an expensive San Francisco restaurant is a great place to start. These people can seriously cook. And if anyone can make something taste good, it is the brilliant chefs of San Francisco.

Absinthe Brasserie was where I first tried Brussels sprouts that I didn’t just like, I loved. So warm, savory and delicious, I finally knew what Brussels sprouts could be.

It was this experience that convinced me it was possible to find a way to cook Brussels sprouts so that I like them. I spent all last winter trying different cooking techniques until I finally got it right.

The secrets?

  1. Bacon – Is there anything bacon doesn’t make better?
  2. Nuts – Walnuts or hazelnuts add a crunchy texture and earthy flavor.
  3. Butter – I don’t cook with butter often, but sometimes it is just worth it.
  4. Blanching – Cutting the sprouts in half and boiling them for 5 minutes removes their bitter flavor.
  5. Fresh herbs – I prefer oregano or marjoram on this dish.
  6. Red wine vinegar – Acid is a great counter to bitterness; it serves Brussels sprouts well.

These tricks and variations of them have convinced me and nearly all of my friends that Brussels sprouts are truly an autumn delicacy.

For those of you questioning the health value of bacon and butter, my answer is this: get over it.

Small amounts of saturated fat will not kill you or even make you fat. Besides, if it gets you to eat your Brussels sprouts it is worth it. I feel confident in saying this dish is infinitely more healthy than anything you can get at Subway.

Don’t be scared, give it a try!

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Do you hate Brussels sprouts? Why?

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8 Responses to “Hate Brussels Sprouts? So Did I”

  1. Anonymous says:

    It seems like from a very young age Americans(both real and non-real) are trained to hate brussel sprouts. My question though, is are they an elitist comestible, or does J.McCain eat his brussel sprouts

  2. Michelle says:

    There’s a recipe in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking that turned me around on brussel sprouts. I like the idea of blanching though, bc sometimes they are dry and awful in the middle if not cooked through.

    Agreed that a little bad fat can be worth it for the healthy rewards of something like brussel sprouts! I splurge by using ghee sometimes when cooking…makes EVERYTHING delicious.

  3. Jed Wolpaw says:

    Used to hate ‘em,
    but now must admit,
    Had some of Darya’s,
    Dem be the shit,
    She tossed in some bacon,
    Some other such mess,
    Changed a life long aversion,
    Who would have guessed?

    Seriously.

  4. julie says:

    This recipe sounds awesome. It’s starting to be the season, I will pick some up at Alemany Saturday, make this. I’m over the bacon and butter, yum! If it enables me to eat my brussel sprouts, all the better. Collards and kale and broccoli and cabbage I can eat alone, or steamed with lemon, but not sprouts.

  5. Darya Pino says:

    anon:

    Arugula is technically a part of the same family, so it is doubtful McCain eats them. That might explain all the cancer.

    —–

    michelle:

    Thanks! Ghee is a great idea.

    Honestly, halving the sprouts is the most important part. Before that I could make them good, but not great.

    —–

    jed:

    Thanks for the poem! I’m so touched I could inspire poetry!!

    —–

    julie:

    Good luck!! I hope you enjoy it :)

  6. Michael Wong says:

    hi, any interest in exchanging blog roll links with a PR5 blog? if yes, leave your blog url as a comment at:
    http://bigmoneylist.blogspot.com
    i’ll link to you first, then when you have time, link back. :)

  7. Brenda says:

    I am one of those adventuraous creatures who has been pretty much omnivorous since childhood BUT i could not eat brussell sprouts. It didn’t help that my introduction to them was on an airline tray. However, here is my turn around dish – I wont call it a recipe. Warning: it also includes saturated fat but is SO worth it. A friend made it at my house for Thanksgiving and I’ve loved it ever since.
    1. braise the sprouts in full cream
    2. mix a bit of melted butter (couple of TBSP?) with a bit of dijon (TBsp?) and some chopped tarragon, S & P
    3. Mix it all up, serve and enjoy.

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