Battling Brussel Sprouts, a duel to remember

or it ain't easy being green

I know I may be pushing my luck with this one, but you survived (and dare I say enjoyed?) my last venture into the world of shamed vegetables when I took on cauliflower (sort of) in my Cauliflower and Potato Soup entry back in February.  So stick with me here, ok?  If you are a Brussel Sprout lover already I don't need to tell you the goodness that resides in these mystical little green balls, but for the skeptics out there (myself once included) I realize it may take some persuading.  Together let's break the bonds of unjustly stereotyping these little, somewhat leafy, greens of Summer's bounty and give them a chance to prove themselves.

It took over a year of cautiously eyeing these little babies at the Farmers' Market before I was brave enough to bring some home, not on the stalk though - I'm not quite that brave - just a little basket full of them.  My husband insisted they were good, but I had my doubts.  So I heavily researched the topic and found not only a myriad of ways to cook them but also a subculture of support for their consumption.  With their enthusiasm back me up, I caved and gave it a shot.  It takes a little time to get them to the desirable state in which they are pictured below, but as they are growing on me the effort is worth it for the result, plus it get easier as you go.  Just take a deep breath, you can do this, here we go!

Brussel sprouts
Italian bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and pepper

1. First, we prep the greens.  Rinse out the brussel sprouts to remove any lingering dirt and debris. Now for the knife work, on each sprout:
Option 1 - slice off a small part of the base stem if it is long, if not you can skip, then slice an X about 1/4 inch deep into the base.  Remove any discolored outer leaves.
Option 2 - slice off a small part of the base stem if it is long, if not you can skip, then slice each sprout in half (from the base to to the crown).  Remove any discolored outer leaves.

2. Boil in a covered pot for about ten minutes, or until tender since it will take less time if already cut in half, then strain.  If left whole, slice in half as directed above at this time.

3. Toss the sprouts in a baking dish.  Dot with bits of butter, the amount you use will depend on the quantity of sprouts and will also increase exponentially with your degree of hesitation in trying brussel sprouts in general just don't go overboard or they'll be swimming in it, and nobody wants a soggy sprout.

4. On half of the dish, season with pepper and maybe even a squirt of lemon juice if you are feeling bold.  On the other side, the "baby step" side that I personally enjoy, top evenly with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Lightly season the whole dish with kosher salt.

5. You can either broil them on high for a few minutes or bake in the oven on 400 F for about 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and browning slightly on top.

Personally, I still shy away from the frozen variety, but these fresh little green bundles of flavor now have a place on our table any time they want to stop by.  And while I did not mind the leftovers reheated for lunch the next day, with the breadcrumb and Parmesan topping of course, my coworkers did since it filled the lunch room with a distinctly cabbage-like smell.  So, in general, I recommend consuming in a single sitting or enjoying the leftovers in the safety of your own kitchen, away from their disapproving stares.  

Now I know brussel sprouts are not the most popular vegetable in the garden, but why not give the fresh ones a shot at your dinner table some time?  They even got all dressed up for the occasion.  The results may surprise you.  Enjoy!

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