Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hate Brussels Sprouts? Think again!

My mother was a fairly simple cook. She was raised on a farm, as was my dad, in the central valley of California. During the depression. As they grew up, mostly they ate meatless meals with an occasional chicken dinner on Sundays, at noontime, from one of the young roosters in the chicken pen. So when I was growing up my mother followed her mother's tradition - we had simple meals too - a small portion of meat (mostly beef), a vegetable, a salad maybe, and some kind of carb (Minute Rice was a new product - my mother thought it was marvelous, so we had it often).

My recollection of brussels sprouts from my youth is not a particularly good one. Overcooked baby cabbages don't ring any culinary bells for me. And that's most often how my mother cooked them. They were freshly cooked. But with nothing to embellish them except some salt and pepper, they had nothing to make them appetizing. My dad and mom both loved them, though. Fixed just that way. Often. Blah. Yuck.

But I did and do like cabbage in many guises. I just didn't think I liked brussels sprouts. So many years later I decided to buy some fresh brussels sprouts - sold on the stalk - and found a recipe in Sunset Magazine. It may have been the recipe that inspired me to try it again. Lo and behold? I liked them. And I do prepare them in the fall and winter months, steamed, still with some bite to them, with a little butter, salt and pepper. Very good. I must admit.

Our kids didn't think they liked brussels sprouts either, until I made this version below. The recipe takes the lowly sprout to a higher level. You steam or boil them until barely done, then toss with a dressing and let them marinate for a few hours. It's the tart, piquant bacon dressing that makes them taste so darned good. I believe what I've printed below is the recipe from Sunset from years ago. I don't add but a couple of slices (not 6) of bacon to this, and they are still very good. This makes a great side dish - it could qualify as a salad, I suppose. One of the good things about this is you can make it the day ahead too. They're good hot or cold, but I prefer them cold or room temperature. Maybe this will motivate you to try it too.

Marinated Brussels Sprouts
Recipe: Adapted from an old recipe in Sunset Magazine
Serving Size : 6
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1/3 cup vegetable oil -- or olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar -- or lemon juice
2 tablespoons green onions -- thinly sliced
6 slices bacon -- fried crisp, crumbled
1/4 cup red bell pepper -- minced
salt and pepper
1. Trim stems and tear away discolored or torn leaves from brussels sprouts. Cut a small X into the stem of the sprout - about 1/4 inch or less deep. Bring a large quantity of water to a boil and add sprouts, return to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for about 7 minutes until just tender when pierced with a sharp knife or fork.
2. Drain well and place into bowl. Add oil and vinegar, then add onion, bacon, red pepper, salt and pepper to taste. May be served hot, if desired. Otherwise, place in covered container and refrigerate for several hours, stirring a couple of times so all of the sprouts are tossed with the dressing.
NOTES : This is best if allowed to marinate for a few hours or overnight. This is something that can be made ahead and keeps well for several days.
Per Serving: 191 Calories; 16g Fat (69.1% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 127mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 3 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
To view a printable recipe, click on title at top. (photos from foodtv.ca and greengiantfresh.com)

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