As I got older, I realized that a life-long deep love for boiled Brussels sprouts is a rarity. When I met Jeff, I found out that he hated Brussels sprouts; in fact, he would shudder at the mention of them. While at first I thought, “to each their own”, once we started living together, I began to miss incorporating Brussels sprouts into my meals. I therefore embarked on a mission: to bring Jeff over to the Brussels-sprouts-loving side. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I was determined to get him not only to tolerate them, but to enjoy them.
I started questioning Jeff on his history with Brussels sprouts, and found out that he had only ever tried them once, also at a Ponderosa buffet; unfortunately, his experience was not as positive as mine. Apparently, this one taste of Brussels sprouts was enough to traumatize him for life. However, I had also noticed over the years that Jeff is more picky about texture, rather than taste, when it comes to food, and figured that perhaps he visited the Ponderosa on a particularly over-boiled, mushy sprouts kind of day. So, I decided that, in order to erase the memory of these unfortunate sprouts from his mind, I would find a whole new way to cook them for him. “OK,” Jeff said, a little uneasy, “but please don’t be too disappointed when I don’t like them.” Ooh, a challenge.
Like I said before, I was so happy with the simplest preparation of Brussels sprouts, that I wasn’t even aware that they could be cooked more than one way. I decided to try roasting them; I had no idea how they would turn out, but I figured that a little caramelization could do no harm. I cut them in half, seasoned them with lots of salt and black pepper, let them roast almost to the point of burning them on the outside, topped them with Parmesan, and broiled them until the cheese melted. When I set a small serving of my reinvented Brussels in front of Jeff, he gave them a bit of a skeptical look; but, since he had promised to be open to my favourite childhood vegetable, he put on a brave smile and dug in.
The rest is history, really. Roasting resulted in Brussels sprouts that were nice and crispy on the outside, but so soft and tender on the inside. He truly loved the sprouts, practically inhaling them all in a matter of minutes, and gushing about them for days. I was proud of him for trying them, and proud of myself for recruiting a former hater to greener, sproutier pastures.
Roasted Brussels sprouts are now a regular side dish at our place. It gives me such satisfaction to see Jeff picking out a basket of sprouts at the market, all on his own. Every time we eat them, he thanks me for reintroducing him to them, because otherwise, he says, he never would have known what he was missing. A life without Brussels sprouts? I shudder at the mention of it!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts: The Recipe
Amanda’s notes: Like the roasted chickpeas, I prefer my Brussels Sprouts salted like fries. They are also delicious when roasted with a chopped onion.
Bunch of fresh Brussels sprouts
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Parmesan or Asiago cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 450C.
Trim the ends of the Brussels sprouts. Remove any dry and yellow leaves on the outside.
Cut sprouts in half. Arrange on a cookie sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with lots of salt and pepper, and toss sprouts with hands to coat.
Roast sprouts until very browned (or blackened, if you like) on the outside (about 30-40 minutes for large sprouts). Turn sprouts halfway through.
Preheat broiler. Top sprouts with grated cheese.
Broil until cheese melts. Serve immediately.