Comfort Food

Comfort Food

Goodbye Mushy Brussels Sprouts!

Goodbye mushy Brussels sprouts!  The Brussels sprouts of my favorite vintage period were always prepared the same way.  They were boiled until they were very soft, sometimes doused with melted butter, but more often smothered with cheese or white sauce.  My husband loved them that way, so that is the way I prepared them for decades!

The earliest recipes for the preparation of these cute tiny green cabbages date to the mid-1700s.  Boiled … that was the way to prepare them!  Thank goodness somebody came up with the idea of roasting Brussels sprouts!  It is difficult to determine just which television chef first showcased sheet pan meals or roasting vegetables in about the year 2000!   The truth is, I am way over roasted vegetables, but this is one that is best roasted!  Brussels sprouts can also be eaten raw, if they are sliced thin and are young and tender to start with. 

Although cabbage is native to the Mediterranean area and was probably cultivated 2,500 years ago, food historians believe that their little cousins, Brussels sprouts weren’t propagated until the 17th century in northern Europe.  Obviously, they are named after the City of Brussels.

According to the 1999 Oxford Companion to Food, there are references to Brussels sprouts in 13th century Brussels and in 15th century wedding feast menus from Burgundy.  In 1512, Portuguese explorers brought spices to Europe and the Dutch quickly adopted nutmeg as a perfect spice for Brussels sprouts.  In 1845, Eliza Acton published a cookbook and a recipe for Brussels sprouts.  She suggested boiling them, then melting butter and serving the sprouts on toasted bread which had been buttered on both sides … and pouring that melted butter over all of it.  Still, the vegetables were boiled and almost camouflaged with butter!

I really enjoy eating salads made with Brussels sprouts as a primary ingredient, but these combinations can always be added to your favorite mixture of salad greens.  Try this recipe!

Orange & Date Brussels Sprouts Salad

12 – 16 ounces of Brussels sprouts
3 oranges
¼ cup canola or almond oil
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
A couple dashes of salt
A couple grinds of black pepper
8 pitted dates, quartered (or more if you’d like
A handful of whole pecans

Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts.  Zest and juice one of the oranges and peel and divide the other 2 oranges into sections.  Mix the juice and zest with the oil, sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  You can put all the salad dressing ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting lid and simply shake it to mix it.

Combine the sprouts, oranges, dates and pecans and toss the salad with the dressing.  This salad is great when you first make it, but it is just as good if you make it and store it in the fridge over night.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Brown a couple strips of chopped bacon (or pancetta) in a big skillet.  Add Brussels sprouts (cut in half) to the skillet with a few raisins.  The raisins will add the little bit of sweetness that make the sprouts better.  Keep the skillet hot until the sprouts begin to brown, then turn down the temperature and continue to stir the mixture until the Brussels sprouts are crisp tender.  If you are worried that your bacon will burn, remove it before you add the sprouts to the bacon grease. You can add a little water to the skillet to speed up the cooking.  Put a lid on the skillet and the sprouts will steam a little.  Salt and pepper is all you need … and you have a fantastic side dish.

This post is part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable project.  If you want to see similar columns, just click the menu tab.  I'm also sharing it with a couple blog parties, so make sure you check out my list and visit those sites.

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