You are what you eat, right? It’s no wonder that children have such an aversion to things like broccoli, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. Why would anyone want to be something green that smells weird, reminiscent of sweaty socks? And, of course, once you turn your nose up, it would be blasphemous to change your mind and give it a try, right? Or so kids think.
The child in me hated Brussels sprouts. Or at least, thought she did since, let’s be honest, I don’t think I ever tried them, but most kids seemed to be staunchly opposed to eating them. Thankfully I was able to overcome the childish stance and eat one, and since then my tastes have matured. Brussels sprouts are (officially) a welcome feature of my plate.
For such a small and unassuming vegetable (especially one that needs a hechsher to be eaten, since many are infested and must either be checked intensely or purchased frozen), these took a long time for me to master. They either weren’t crispy enough to bring out that unbeatable roasted caramelized taste, or I ended up burning them to the point that no one could even suffer through eating them out of sheer politeness. The house would fill with the odor of roasting greens, until I was 30 seconds too late, and suddenly the air carried the acrid scent of burning.
*Insert years of chopping and tossing these babies in olive oil and a variety of spices here.*
Scores of Brussels sprouts, hours of my time and many trials (and tribulations?) later, I’ve finally figured out the way to enhance the sweet flavor of Brussels sprouts, so that even the people who think they’re gross find themselves taking seconds. One cruciferous vegetable conquered, only several leafy greens to go! (I’m looking at you, kale.)
You may think that there’s no reason for any of this. After all, we’re not rabbits. We can eat plenty of non-vegetable foods. So why should we try to force ourselves to swallow what just reminds us of medicine? Hmm, let’s think… Call me biased, but I would have to insist that this recipe will banish all associations with grape-flavored medicine for good. Besides, the health benefits are undeniable.
Advocating health maintenance is far from just a matter of focusing on your diet, though. When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are countless ways advocated all over the internet, from intensely tracking food intake to only drinking juice to doing a 10-minute workout every morning. These are not true methods, they are traps that only serve to make you crazed and fall farther and harder than you ever thought you could. It’s all about balance and finding the middle ground that works best for you, some combination of activity and healthy food.
So while Brussels sprouts are among the top 20 most nutritionally dense foods, with high levels of protein, fiber, vitamin C and folic acid (it helps form and maintain DNA), I hope that you incorporate these into your diet for the simple and unadulterated pleasure of eating them.
Especially when you get fancy and drizzle them with a balsamic reduction. Oh, be still my beating heart!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Balsamic Reduction
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35-45 minutes
For Brussels sprouts:
1 pound brussels sprouts (defrosted for half an hour if frozen), and halved
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with olive oil and spices until evenly coated.
Lay out in one layer on baking sheet. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until browned at the edges.*
For balsamic reduction:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
While Brussels sprouts are still in the oven, heat balsamic vinegar in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to simmer.**
Lower flame to simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes. The balsamic will begin to reduce and thicken. When it is sticky enough to coat the back of a spoon, it’s ready.
Drizzle over Brussels sprouts and serve immediately.***
*Actual baking time will depend on how burned/crispy you like your vegetables.
**Make sure to put the stove fan on, or open a window, as the smell of vinegar is extremely strong.
***If preparing in advance, then gently reheat the reduction with a tiny bit of water added before serving.
By Sara Linder
Sara Linder, a Jewish Link contributor, is a sophomore studying marketing and English at the University of Maryland, College Park. She enjoys spending time in the kitchen, photography and writing for her food blog, along with keeping up with her studies.