For some reason Brussels sprouts is a vegetable capable of releasing passion. Like this:
I love Brussels sprouts!
I hate Brussels sprouts!
Very rarely do you hear, “Brussels sprouts? Meh. I could take them or leave them.”
It’s sad really, because in the much-loved, much-hated division we are all overlooking an important point: Brussels sprouts are cute.
It took me a long, long time to learn to love Brussels sprouts. I wasn’t buying the cute thing. I wasn’t fooled, those were mini cabbages – an entire bitter cabbage with every mouthful. This attitude persisted far into my adulthood.
But then I had Brussels sprouts tossed in olive oil and seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper and roasted until their delicate edges showed a hint of brown. The roasting had drawn out their inner sweetness (who knew?) and banished memories of the soggy, boiled Brussels sprouts, the only kind I had ever met.
Admitting that I eat Brussels sprouts makes me feel sophisticated, as in I can eat my veggies and like it.
And now I spend some effort trying to win over the I hate Brussels sprouts! crowd.
At a potluck party the other weekend, someone arrived with Brussels sprouts roasted with grapes. These were good but I suddenly wanted to try my own version with figs. I think I was divinely inspired because I’ve never even bought a dried fig (I’m not counting Fig Newtons).
The following weekend was Warm-Up Thanksgiving at Jenna’s house so I confidently signed up to bring Brussels sprouts on a shared Google doc.
I think it was less than three hours later that I received a post on my Facebook wall: “really kendra? brussel sprouts?!”
Game on! I was going to win over this nay-sayer.
After some research, I decided to make a kind of sauce dressing of figs and maple syrup and pour it over Brussels sprouts roasted with walnuts seasoned with Parmesan cheese.
I had a friend with me when I made the trip to the store to buy my Brussels sprouts. I held up a 1 lb. bag and asked, “Do you think this will be enough?”
There were about 40 people expected at the party.
Without missing a beat he said, “That’s plenty.”
Suppressing my faltering confidence I proceeded with my plan and presented my sweet, cute Brussels sprouts at the party. There was only one problem. Word of the Brussels sprouts challenge had spread and everyone wanted in on the judging. They were gone within minutes.
The winning verdict: We all love Brussels sprouts!
Roasted Brussels sprouts with walnuts and figs
This recipe easily doubles. Take care not to overwhelm the sprouts with too much of the sauce.
Serves 6 to 8
1 lb. (4 cups) Brussles sprouts, trimmed, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried figs, diced
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
Toss halved Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper, and walnuts. Spread into baking pan and roast for about 20 minutes until tender and edges just begin to brown.
Meanwhile, combine figs and broth on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced. Add maple syrup and reduce again until mixture thickens.
Pour over roasted Brussels sprouts. Add Parmesan cheese and combine well. Serve immediately.