Monday, September 6, 2010
July has been declared “brussels sprouts awareness month” by the New Zealand Gardener magazine after the nation voted and the poor wee brussels came out on top (or should that be bottom?) by a mile as New Zealand’s most hated vegetable! Not only did Kiwi’s say they hated them, they loathed them so much that nearly 30% of the total least-liked votes were for these baby Brassicas!!!!
We adore the dear wee brussels in our house. Well, all of us except Kye. He doesn’t eat many cooked veges though (prefers raw) so I don’t think it’s anything personal against brussels sprouts. I think people either seem to love them or hate them. And I’d be so confident as to bet you that most of the people who say they hate them, haven’t even tried them since being forced to at a young age. Back in the day mums used to think cooking brussels sprouts meant boiling them to death in a little pot (like my mum did - love you mum) till they were mushy, water-logged and slightly sulphur-like in smell! You know the funny thing though? I actually used to like those mushy brussels!! (does that make me a true brussels sprout fan!!??) Though not nearly as much as I do cooked till just tender in a little olive oil or ghee.
We have tried to grow our own, twice in fact. Not quite sure what we did wrong though? The first year I think they got completely hammered by those damn white butterflies and their army of little green caterpillars, they didn’t stand a chance. The second year (last year) we tried again, but I think our soil was all out, as we got nice bushy plants but only teeny sprouts (like the little one on the right in the photo above). Too much nitrogen (sheep poo!) I think? So this year we’ve had a break from trying to grow them…..and are just buying them. When buying, look for compact little sprouts. If they show any sign of yellowing on the outer leaves, put back and walk away!
I’ve used chestnuts here, and I know you’re all going to say “but Emma, I don’t have any chestnuts and they are out of season!!!??” Yes I know, and for that I am truly sorry. You can either see if they are available vacuum packed in your area or just simply leave them out and just cook the brussels by themselves. We used to cook a side-dish similar to this at a catering company I once worked at in Sydney, it’s so simple….but oh so tasty. I can’t say I’ve ever paid money for chestnuts, so I’m not even sure how they are sold here in NZ out of season? We have a tree here in Raglan that we collect them from and this year, my lovely Si cooked a pot of them, peeled them (it took hours!) and then I froze them, claiming I would use them to make some yummy cake or tart I had once seen somewhere...I forget now what it was, so I used them with the brussels instead.
This recipes starting point was from one in Heidi’s cookbook “Super natural cooking”. Her way of lightly sauteing them in olive oil is a delicious way to cook these much underrated vegetable. The original recipe is finished with a little cheese grated over them (Parmesan would be nice) but as we don’t do lactose so well, I've left out the cheese and replaced it with some ghee/clarified butter (which is lactose free) added some garlic and the chestnuts.
So go on, give the little guys a chance. You may surprise yourself. If my four-year old daughter can love them, I’m sure you can too...and don’t worry I’m still working on Kye.
Golden Brussels with chestnuts and garlic recipe
Choose small, tight sprouts. To prepare, pull of any outer leaves that look a bit shabby. Trim ends off a little. Slice in half vertically from the stem to top. I use Ghee as it’s lactose free, but feel free to use butter if that’s ok for you. Like I said above, if you can’t get your hands on chestnuts, don’t worry, leave them out…the Brussels are the star anyway! Serves 4 as a side.
- 12 small brussels sprouts, sliced in half vertically
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 Tbsp ghee, clarified butter or regular butter
- 1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
- 1 cup of cooked, peeled chestnuts
Test to see if they are tender by poking with a knife, or cutting into one. If they are not quite tender, cover and cook a further few mins. Turn down the temperature if they are browning too much. Once tender, remove lid and add Ghee, garlic, a few grinds of pepper and the chestnuts. Cook a few mins until the garlic is tender, and the brussels are nice and golden. Serve straight away.
Adapted from a recipe in “Super Natural Cooking” by Heidi Swanson.
We had the brussels for dinner last night……and these leeks I pulled from our garden this afternoon. I used them to made a simple leek and potato soup for dinner.
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