The babysitter was organizing and putting away my latest purchases from the farmer’s market this past weekend. I love that she’s a neat freak.
“What is this?” she asked, peering suspiciously into a plastic bag on the counter.
“No, thank you,” she said, as she wrinkled her nose.
“Have you ever had them?” I asked her.
“Good, then you’ll be having them this week with us.” Sometimes it feels like I have three kids, instead of two, but there is always room for one more.
Truth be told, I haven’t had brussels sprouts myself since I was a kid and my mom was doing all the cooking. I reacted then just as the babysitter did, wrinkling my nose in disgust. I’m pretty sure my mom was the only one of us eating them back then.
I can’t even explain why I bought them this weekend. For some reason, they just spoke to me. I wanted to give them another chance. Just like with the kids … just because I didn’t like something back then doesn’t mean that I won’t like something now. Tastes change. They get more developed. Or more narrowed. They evolve. You get more open to new things. More willing to try. And this time, it was brussels sprouts.
The planets must have aligned just right, because since I bought them on Sunday, I came across three recipes for them. without even looking, each one looking better than the one before. Tonight, Nick saw me cutting them up on the cutting board, and asked what they were. I got pretty much the same reaction as I did from the babysitter. “But you just have to try one. If you don’t like it, that’s ok. But then you’ll know you don’t like it, instead of maybe missing out on something you might love.” He nodded, though rolled his eyes along with it.
Do you think that serving brussels sprouts and steamed broccoli alongside macaroni and cheese lessens the guilt? I’m pretty sure it does, because with all that green on the platter, I wasn’t feeling any guilt at all.
I told Nick that when I was his age, I didn’t like them either, and I decided to try them again. Tonight. With him. He watched as I took a bite. Hey. They’re not half bad! Maybe it was the garlic. Or the butter. I’m pretty sure adding garlic and butter to most things makes them much more palatable. Well, probably not to liver (blech!), but quite a few things are definitely improved with butter and garlic.
“Hey, I like them!” he exclaimed after the first bite he took. He had carefully peeled off a leaf and tried it with great trepidation.
“See? And if you take a bite of macaroni with the brussels sprouts, you might like it even more.”
He tried that and managed to eat one whole brussels sprout. Along with the V8 juice he drank, I can live with that.
Madeline? Had several. She’s pretty easygoing though. So far, potatoes are the only thing she absolutely refuses to eat. And for the babysitter, she gets her first bite at lunch tomorrow. Lucky thing.
Brussels sprouts. Who knew? Try ’em. They just may surprise you too.
Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens, November 2009
2 lb. Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp. rice oil or olive oil
7 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 bunch fresh thyme (about 10 sprigs)
1 large sprig fresh rosemary, halved
2 tsp. fennel seeds
1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt or 1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sherry or white wine vinegar
1. In a large saucepan cook Brussels sprouts, uncovered, in enough lightly salted boiling water to cover for 3 minutes; drain well. Pat dry with paper towels.
2. Place a very large heavy skillet or sauté pan over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add oil and garlic; cook and stir 2 minutes. Add half the butter. Increase heat to medium-high; carefully arrange half the sprouts, cut-sides down, in the hot skillet. Top with half the thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds, and salt. Cook, uncovered, 3 to 4 minutes or until the sprouts are well-browned. Remove sprouts from pan. Repeat with remaining butter, sprouts, thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds, and salt.
3. Return all sprouts to skillet along with sherry. Quickly toss to distribute flavors. Makes 8 (1/2-cup) servings plus leftovers.
4. Make Ahead: Step 1 may be done 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate the well-drained Brussels sprouts.