I was a finicky child. I would get stuck in a food rut, and wouldn’t budge for all the money in the world. My mother still rolls her eyes over the fact that I ate American cheese and mustard sandwiches for an entire school year, and I went for years only eating plain instant oatmeal, thick enough to stand a spoon.
In college I started working in restaurants, and either through the exposure to different food preparation, or due to a growing palate, I learned to like a wider variety of foods. Steamed vegetables were a revelation, after years of boiled Midwestern veggies, and grilled anything was a million times better than that same thing, pan-fried. After college, I lived for a year in Japan – no simple task for a picky eater. I grew bolder, though, and tried a wider array of unusual foods, expanding my tastes until today – frankly, I’ll try just about anything!
Some vegetables are fairly notorious – brussels sprouts, for example. In college, a friend deemed them “Nature’s toxic little balls of hell.” My mother had boiled them in my childhood, and their noxious odor would drive me out of the kitchen. But brussels sprouts have been maligned and mistreated! Cooked properly, they’re delicious – crunchy, flavorful and incredibly healthy. Several years ago a friend brought brussels sprouts to a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, and to be polite I tried them… and went back for seconds. It didn’t hurt that she’d roasted them with bacon. But these sprouts were nothing like the stinky, mushy mess from my childhood – and since then, I’ve tried various ways of cooking them, and haven’t ended up with a dud, yet.
Here’s a recipe adapted from Bon Appetit that I’ve been loving – great for a fall or Thanksgiving preparation. Enjoy!
Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup
makes about 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil – divided
1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (I used B grade)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh sage
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the sprouts, cut side down, in a single layer in the skillet, cooking for about 4 minutes or until golden brown. When the first batch is done, transfer to a bowl – add the second tablespoon of oil and cook the remaining sprouts. Careful – the second batch may cause splatters of oil.
When the second batch has cooked, add the first batch back into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, 3-4 minutes longer. Transfer all sprouts to a large bowl.