An End to my Cold War with Brussel Sprouts
by Margo Elfstrom
When Jill asked me to sit in for her as a guest writer this week, I was thrilled. I love my veggies and was excited by the prospect of getting to extol the benefits of one of them. Then she told me what this week’s powerfood was. My heart moved into my stomach because in my world, I seek out brussel sprouts the same way I seek having needles inserted under my fingernails.
My adversarial relationship with this little green package of leaves, started when I was about 11 and my parents needed soImeone to keep an eye on me. My Great Aunt was more than happy to take me on and overall, it was a great experience. There really were lots of ‘great’ things about her, such as her flair for putting amazing outfits together, her perfectly organized house and her kind heart. However, cooking was not one of her strengths and she believed that a good vegetable was one that was boiled within an inch of it’s life. The flavors she coaxed out of brussel sprouts were reminiscent of ammonia and soggy cabbage, so you might be able to understand why I’ve villianized this poor, mostly harmless, cruciferous veggie .
One of the reasons that I’ve avoided looking up the history or nutritional benefits until now, was that I was afraid of being convinced that I needed to actually eat them. Turns out that it was a valid fear. To know something is to take a kinder view of it and sprouts do have an interesting history and offer a lot of contributions to maintaining good health.
It was likely that it was the ancient Romans, who cultivated the forerunners of our modern version. The first written reference to brussel sprouts was in 1587 and during the 16th century they were a popular veggie in the Netherlands, eventually spreading throughout the cooler regions of Northern Europe (these little gems don’t seem to mind cooler climates). Like other members of the brassicas family (broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage), the brussel sprout is high in soluble fiber and a rich source of vitamin C. It also contains chemicals that inhibit the growth of cancer cells: 3,3′-diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and selenium. Just please don’t ask me to pronounce any of them. In order to maximize their cancer fighting properties, it’s best NOT to boil them. Sauteing them, stir frying them or steaming them for under four minutes give you the maximum benefit and no wet cabbage/ammonia flavor.
The consensus? As I was prepping, I kept popping leaves into my mouth and found that I really enjoy the raw flavor of brussel sprouts. The recipe I came up with has a German flavor to it because I do love a good cooked German slaw and having watched too many episodes of Chopped, I keep fantasizing that I’m standing in front of a mystery basket. I had a green apple in my fridge, some dijon mustard, a lonely onion and some other things. This recipe turned out to be absolutely divine, the flavors meld together beautifully. The brussel sprouts have a stronger flavor than cabbage and they absolutely shine against the other ingredients. I grilled some thinly sliced pork loin, brushed with a mustard, chopped green apple, fresh sage mix. It was a perfect meal summer meal!
Congrats Jill, you are always telling me how great brussel sprouts can be and gotta say, I’m now a convert! So when I started this post, I was not a happy camper but now, I think I’m going to cook with these little beauties a little more often.
Don’t forget to visit these links and find out what delicious creations everyone else has developed! Alyce at More Time at the Table, Ansh at Spice Roots, Jeanette at Jeanette’s Healthy Living, Martha at Simple-Nourished-Living, Mireya at My Healthy Eating Habits, Sarah at Everything But the Kitchen Sink and Casey at Bookcase Foodie. With my new found appreciation, I’m planning to try all of these recipes. Guten Appetit!
|Warm Brussel Sprout Slaw with Bacon and Green Apples|
- 3 strips of bacon (2 for the salad and 1 for garnish)
- 1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 green apple (Granny Smith work best) finely chopped
- 3/4 cup of water
- 1/4 tsp salt (more to taste)
- 2 tsp cider vinegar
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 lb of brussel sprouts, cleaned and thinly sliced into slaw
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 1/2 apple sliced into chunks as garnish (if desired)
- Fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pan and use water to deglaze the pan. Add onion and apple and allow to cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add salt, vinegar and mustard and mix into the apples and onions. Add brussel sprouts and allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes until slightly wilted, season with white pepper, lemon juice and additional salt if desired.
- Serve warm, making sure to pour remaining juices at the bottom of the pan over the salad. Garnish with bacon and chunks of raw apple.