How to survive and even enjoy cruciferous vegetable night
If you watch The Big Bang Theory on CBS, then you know what happened when Sheldon tried and failed to make Thursday his “cruciferous vegetable night”. For everyone else, the short (and less comical) version is he ate Brussels sprouts. And let’s just say he paid for it.
So let me offer Sheldon a little friendly advice from a food scientist to a nuclear one. The theory we need to focus on is the how to cook Brussels sprouts. It’s not just in the eating. Size matters.
The quickest and easiest way to cook Brussels sprouts
Shred them, I’m implying. Then cook them in a little avocado oil, unsalted butter or pastured lard until they are tender. Brussels sprouts may bring on the nasty looks, but when cooked with care and garnished with bacon they enter crowd-pleaser territory. Many grocers carry packaged shredded Brussels sprouts, saving you the hassle of chopping.
Cheat sheet for cooking Brussels sprouts
Slice thin. If you start with whole sprouts, allow 4-6 per person. Use a sharp knife to remove the root, and then slice the sprouts as thin as possible.
Medium heat. Sauté the sprout shreds over medium heat, stirring occasionally. If your sprouts begin to brown, turn the heat down.
Start small. If cruciferous vegetables are not a regular part of your diet, ease into eating them in large quantities. Otherwise, regardless of proper cooking, you could end up in Sheldon’s boat, if you know what I mean.
My chef’s trick for sautéing Brussels sprouts
In any professional kitchen, water is a line cook’s best friend. Splashing a small amount in the pan speeds up the cooking process.
How to quick steam Brussels sprouts (or any vegetable)
After about five minutes in the pan, splash in a small amount of water. It quick steams the vegetables, helping them soften faster. No need to measure, just splash in a little water and turn the heat up slightly to help it simmer off. Once the water is reduced, turn the heat back down.
Why this technique works
What this does is allow the not-so-friendly fibers and sugars in the sprouts to breakdown quicker. The smaller the pieces of sprout, the faster this can happen.
Easy ideas for Brussels sprouts mix-ins
For added vitamin C – because who doesn’t need more – try mixing in a little diced red pepper. Or for sweetness a couple pinches of dried cranberries. Bacon never hurt a sprout either!
The result is a savory and satisfying vegetable dish with a subtle earthy crunch, peppery spunk and juicy pop from the warm fruit. And one that’s loaded with calcium, vitamin A and that cleansing, but now much friendlier, fiber.
So unlike Sheldon Cooper, we should never feel the need to shun sprouts for fear of digestive repercussions. And that, my food loving friends, is what I like to call a Bazinga!Print
A delicious, quick and easy way to eat Brussels sprouts! Mixing in dried cranberries gives this simple side dish a tart pop of sweetness.
- 1 bag/about 12 ounces fresh whole or shaved Brussels sprouts
- avocado oil, for the pan
- pastured butter, unsalted, for finishing
- salt and black pepper
- few pinches of dried cranberries
- bacon or pancetta, chopped small
- sliced or candied nuts
- small diced red bell pepper
- If adding bacon or pancetta, fry over medium heat in large skillet until brown and cooked through, but still tender (not crispy). Remove bits from pan.
- Sauté shredded Brussels sprouts in bacon fat with a good sprinkling of salt, stirring somewhat frequently. Cook until shreds are tender to the bite, but not soft.
- If garnishing with bell pepper, add halfway through cooking sprouts. If adding dried cranberries or other dried fruit, add to pan and cook a few minutes more.
- Season to your liking with salt and pepper, and a couple pats of unsalted butter.
- Garnish with crispy bacon pieces.