So apparently I am in the minority when I say that brussels sprouts are in my top 5 of all time favorite vegetables. In fact I could make an entire meal of them, or just vegetables alone. It seems that people have either a love or hate relationship with their veggies. As a kid, I couldn’t stand them…I down right despised almost every kind there is. However after a brief stint in a relationship with a vegetarian I learned to have a new appreciation for the more colorful part of the plate.
For me, the change occurred once I started eating fresh veggies. As a kid I grew up on the frozen kind, reheated in the microwave then tossed with a tablespoon of butter. They had the texture of rubber and didn’t taste much better. When I had my first apartment I experimented with the canned variety and the sodium levels made them inedible for me. Then somewhere along the way I became more and more interested in food, cooking shows were suddenly all I watched and I was increasingly intrigued by the different types of vegetables they used as well as the ways they prepared them. So I started experimenting, and I discovered that the things I loathed as a child were more times then not, the star of the plate. Spaghetti squash, eggplants, roasted peppers…things I never dreamed of eating as a child were now items I couldn’t get enough of.
The main complaint I hear about brussels sprouts is that they are bitter. And seeing as though they are little mini cabbages there is little you can do to get rid of that all together. But I challenge you, if you cook them in a little bacon fat with some garlic, salt and pepper and finish them off with some fresh lemon juice you just might learn to love these little guys. No promises though, I have been able to turn the boy onto many a vegetable these guys still didn’t make the cut. But no worries, it just means I got to eat the entire bowl!
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Garlic
Serves 3 - 4
25 fresh brussels sprouts (check your local produce stands)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 strips of bacon, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ grated parmesan or gruyere cheese
Wash and trim the brussels sprouts, removing the stem from the bottom and any loose leaves. Cut in half length wise and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the bacon and sauté until golden brown. Remove the bacon bits from the pan with the slotted spoon and reserve 1 tablespoon of the fat.
Lower the heat to medium and add the brussels sprouts to the pan in a single layer, cut side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover for 5 minutes. Test one of the sprouts after 5 minutes to make sure they are just tender, if not cover and cook for an additional 2 – 3 minutes.
Remove the lid and crank the heat back up to medium high. Toss in the garlic and cook until the bottoms of the sprouts are deep brown and caramelized. Toss the sprouts around to get some color on the top side as well then cut the heat. Add the lemon juice to the pan and toss to make sure everything is evenly coated. Salt and pepper to taste, then transfer to a large plate or bowl. Sprinkle with cheese and bacon bits and enjoy!
* This dish can easily be made vegetarian by omiting the bacon and cooking the sprouts in extra virgin olive oil