Brussels sprouts

Brussels Sprouts: Robust Flavor For Meatless Days

Usually by March, along with impending snowstorms, I am done with Brussels sprouts. They are one of the few green vegetables that are around all winter. While I was trying to not eat meat during Lent, I re-discovered their robust taste. All it took was to cut the tightly interwoven leafy capsules a little differently, and the flavor unfolded in a surprising new way.

Boiling Brussels sprouts releases their sulfur compounds, not always creating an enticing aroma in the kitchen. Roasting the vegetables brings out the flavor, but it can take up to 50 minutes for the leafy heart to soften. When the sprouts are sliced on the bias, just as you would cut an onion, both of the above issues are addressed. Peeling back the outermost leaf and then slicing through the sprouts eliminates having to discard each of the brown or yellowing leaves; they simply fall away and can be picked out. With a quick misting of oil and a flash under the broiler, the sliced Brussels sprouts become a mixture of charred leaves and a softened core with a crunchy, sweet taste.

Rich in vitamin C and K, the grilled sprouts can be combined with hardy mushrooms to add heft to a meatless meal.

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Brussels Sprouts And Mushrooms

Brussels sprouts – 1 lb

Oyster Mushrooms – ½ lb

Garlic cloves – 5-6, peeled and sliced

Dried red chili – 2-3

Olive Oil – 1 tbsp, plus misting

Salt and Pepper – to taste

Preheat the broiler

  • Chop the mushrooms roughly and keep aside.
  • Peel the first outer layer of the sprouts. Cut the sprouts thinly on the diagonal. Discard any outer leaf that looks old or brown.
  • Put the sliced sprouts on an aluminum foil. Mist them with olive oil, mixing them so that all the sprouts get coated with oil.
  • Add salt and pepper and mix.
  • Broil for five minutes, turning them frequently. Some of the individual leaves will char, but this adds a smoky flavor.
  • While the sprouts are under the broiler, heat oil in the pan.
  • Add garlic cloves and cook until they are lightly browned.
  • Add the dried red chilies and cook until they stop sizzling, a few seconds.
  • Add the mushroom and cook until soft.
  • Add the cooked Brussels sprout to the mushroom mixture. Mix and season according to taste.
  • Serve with grilled salmon or vegetable lasagna.

Underappreciated Winter Vegetables

A recent Downton Abbey episode mentions vichyssoise, a leek and potato soup that is served cold and was made famous in 1917 by a French chef at New York’s Ritz-Carlton. Beetroots, leeks and Brussels sprouts, it seems, have shed their boring image and resurfaced as healthy and easy-to-prepare vegetables. Thank goodness for that!  I have roasted beets and broiled Brussels sprouts for the past few months – easy ways to incorporate vegetables as part of the main meal or as a side dish.

Beets: Cut the leafy stalks to about 3-inches above the root and discard or use the stalks to make vegetable stock. Rinse the root and remove any grit attached to it. Place the beet on aluminum foil. Roast or bake at 350°F for one to two hours depending on the size of the beets. The beet is cooked when a fork goes through it easily. Peel the skin off. Roasted beets can be eaten on their own, with goat cheese, or can serve as a nutritious pop of color in a green salad.

Brussels sprouts: Remove one or two of the outer layers. Using a paring knife, slice the sprouts thinly. Mix with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the sprouts on an aluminum foil and broil on high for 2-4 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully flip over the sliced sprouts. Put them back in the oven to broil for another minute or two. Some of the leaves will be crispier than others, which adds a nice crunch when they are tossed and mixed together.

Leeks: A. stated that I omitted to mention the easy way to clean leeks. At Thanksgiving, her aunt had shown us how to do so – with a far easier way than what I had been doing for years! Leeks often have mud and grit, acquired during their growth, embedded between the outer dark-green leaves.

  • After trimming the roots near the white base, remove any outer leaves that are damaged or tough.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut a slit through the interwoven leaves as shown in the video. Hold the leek under the faucet and let the water run through the slit, slightly fanning the leaves out so the dirt washes away.

Leeks are members of the onion family, but instead of the growing into a tight bulb like the onion, the leek bulb grows into a long, elongated shaft of interwoven leaves. The usable part above the roots is the white base, the inner light-green leaves, and the outer, dark-green ones.

Leeks can replace onion or garlic in a stir-fry dish or omelet. Alternatively, pair with sliced potatoes, Swiss cheese, cream, and chopped chives and bake for 45 minutes at 350°F.