I'm convinced that if brussels sprouts were called baby cabbages, they'd have a wider fan base. But as it stands, most Americans, haunted by childhood threats to finish their mushy, pale green sprouts before dessert, declare they can't stand the cute little minis. And that's a shame. When properly cooked, fresh brussels sprouts have a divinely delicate flavor.
My favorite preparation is roasted; while I've got the oven cranked up on high, I throw in some broccoli for those who absolutely won't be swayed, and fruits and nuts, too. The combination sounds outrageous, but trust me: It's a roasted sensation and good for you, too. This recipe gets an A-plus on the nutritional scale. Even though half the calories come from fat, it's the best kind of fat for you -- from the olive oil and walnuts.
As a cool weather crop, brussels sprouts are almost out of season, so get fresh ones while you can. Look for small, compact, bright green heads. Keep them in the refrigerator when you get home, but cook them within a day or two for the best results.
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Roasted Sprout Medley
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1 pound fresh brussels sprouts
2 cups small broccoli florets
2 cups quartered apples, cored but not peeled
2 cups red seedless grapes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup apple cider or no-sugar-added apple juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Note)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Wash the sprouts, removing any yellowed leaves, and cut in half. Add the sprouts, broccoli, apples, and grapes to the prepared pan. (You can keep them separate, if desired.)
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until sprouts are tender and beginning to caramelize.
Add apple cider, balsamic vinegar, and toasted walnuts; toss and scrape bottom of pan for caramelized bits and serve.
Note: You can add the walnuts during the last 3 minutes of roasting to toast them in the same pan (walnuts will burn if added before then), or toast separately and sprinkle over the top before serving.
Yield: 10 servings
Approximate values per serving: 124 calories (50 percent from fat), 7 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 3.5 g dietary fiber, 135 mg sodium