I love brussels sprouts, I cook them at least 3 times a week, but it was not always the case.
I grew up thinking brussels sprouts were gross, because they have that reputation, that no one likes them, right? My mom didn’t cook them growing up, and I had never tried them until I was maybe 23. I saw them at the store once in the frozen food section, one of those “veggie and sauce” microwave deals, wanting some variety, I bought them, and tried them, they were alright, nothing to write home about.
A few years later I got more into cooking and roasting vegetables. Roasting, the application of high dry heat, carmelizes the sugars in most vegetables vastly improving them. I decided to try roasting some sprouts, and I made a discovery. Brussel sprouts were actually very very very good.
Not only are sprouts good, they’re very good for you. They’re a cruciferous vegetable along with broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage. This family of vegetables are all extremely healthy for you. In addition to the normal vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, you find in most vegetables, there are two very special things that these do for you.
Apparently, there is a compound within these plants that helps activate the process that flushes toxins from the cells of your body. Cancer is helped by carcinogens that encourage cell mutations, you should avoid such toxins, but in addition to avoiding them you should also ensure that any that make it into your body get expelled as soon as possible. One reason why a high fiber diet helps prevent colon cancer is that, quite frankly, it keeps things moving out quickly. This is the same concept, but on the cellular level. So eating these vegetables help purge your body of toxins. This is real science folks. I know using the phrase “purge your body of toxins” is reminiscent of various snake oil concoctions throughout history, but in this case, it is real hard science, tested and proven in the laboratory. For more on that science see here.
But wait, there’s more. There is a compound in cruciferous vegetables that literally encourages cancer cells to commit suicide (apoptosis), making them invaluable for people suffering from that disease. But additionally there is a theory that we actually have cells in our body forming tumors all the time, many many small tumors, that our body naturally kills off, and we develop malignant cancer when our body fails to do this house cleaning. So if that is true, then cruciferous vegetables also help terminate these micro-tumors, preventing malignancy in the first place.
So why not make broccoli?
Because brussel sprouts taste better? (they do, seriously) However, honestly, I hate cooking broccoli. It is just so fragile. If you undercook it, it is tough, if you overcook it it is bitter, and there is a very short window between the two. Cauliflower is more forgiving, and can be roasted well and used in things like mac ‘n cheese, but it is also the least nutritious of the lot. Both broccoli and cauliflower too I think are best fresh (frozen is not nearly as flavorful in my opinion) which is of course a little more expensive and a little less practical to keep in the house. Then there is cabbage, which I like, and I add it to meatloaf, casseroles, and of course make things like coleslaw a lot in the summer, but it isn’t quite the hot vegetable side you usually want.
Brussel sprouts work great frozen, have a huge time window for cooking, and are very nutritious (possibly the most nutritious of the bunch). I’ve actually tried this recipe with fresh sprouts a number of times, and it is never as good as with frozen (I don’t know why, it just isn’t). And, despite rumors to the contrary, it is very hard to overcook a brussel sprout (in the oven anyways). To top it all off, it is easy, it takes me less than a minute of labor to prepare this dish.
So, without further ado, your directions:
How to Roast Brussel Sprouts
- Cut open a bag of frozen sprouts and empty it into a 9×9 glass baking dish so sprouts form a single layer (use a bigger dish if your bag was bigger than from my store).
- Sprinkle olive oil over, I use my little oil bottle (you know the kind made for oils that pours it slowly) and make a zig zag from one side to the other and back. Probably 2-3 tablespoons total.
- Sprinkle with about a teaspoon of kosher salt, I just grab a fat pinch, I don’t measure.
- Grind a few grinds of fresh black pepper over it.
- Shake the pan to promote even coverage, then toss it into a cold oven and set the over to 425 and your timer to 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove, and stir it. Put it in for at least another 30 minutes, but as I said it is very forgiving, and can go as long as another hour at the high end.
You can serve it as is, and I love them, but you can also dress them up with some butter or freshly grated parmigiana cheese.
They are sweet, crispy and brown on the outside, soft and savory on the inside, and a little salty.
Now I’ve seen many so called food experts warn against overcooking brussel sprouts (they must be thinking of boiling I’m sure) because they get mushy and whatnot, as if anything mushy is bad. We all like mashed potatoes don’t we? After an hour in the over the sprouts definitely no longer have the crispness of a fresh vegetable, but to those who would turn their nose up at my sprouts, I would ask them to try them first, perhaps they will echo my brother who, upon first trying them said, “The brussel sprouts are amazing.”
So I eat these at least three times a week, and I recommend you do too. They’re easy, they’re cheap, you can buy a lot and store them in your basement freezer, they taste amazing, and they’re incredibly healthy for you. In the future one day should you meet a Vulcan and should they tell you to “Live long and prosper.” You can answer that you will, because you eat brussel sprouts.