Sunday, April 3, 2011

Seared Brussels sprouts: sweetening the bad taste

When you're so close to someone, you start to associate certain things with that person. While I see my boyfriend everywhere, Brussels sprouts represent the item that is quintessentially him. It was the first thing he ever cooked for me. As his favorite vegetable, I always try to incorporate them into a meal - side dish, pizza topping, I'm sure eventually I'll get around to sorbet :)

Recently, my boyfriend left me. Over the last three years, we nourished and inspired each other, and he is intimately connected to some of my most inventive culinary creations. I will miss him dearly for that and many, many other reasons.

Just a week before he left, I proudly brought home what the farmer claimed were the last sprouts of the season. Now those sprouts sit in my fridge as a source of torment. Why do you mock me, you bitter brassica?

But life goes on. And as such, I've decided to sweeten the bad taste by showing my favorite way to cook Brussels sprouts, which uses steam and caramelization to literally sweeten the often bitter taste of sprouts.


  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts

  • 2 T olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

  • 1 T butter

  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Step One

Clean and check all the Brussels sprouts. They can keep for a while in your fridge as a storage vegetable, you simply have to discard leaves that have started to turn colors. Trim off the bottoms. If they're large, cut them in half.

Step Two

Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil over high heat till a drop of water can dance across the top. Add the sprouts and immediately cover with a lid. Cook for a minute and shake vigorously. Lift the lid and sprinkle on some salt. Cook for another minute, shake and turn off the heat. This process will sear the sprouts and also help them expel water as steam.

Step Three

Let the sprouts sit there, cooking in their own steam for about 15 minutes. This is a crucial step in bringing down the bitterness. The steam will quickly break down the bitter agents in the sprouts. This is a great time to prep and cook the rest of the meal.

Step Four

Take the lid off the pan, sprinkle the garlic on the sprouts and re-cover. Allow the garlic to steam for 5 minutes.

Step Five

Turn the flame on to high again. Cook for a few minutes and shake. At this point, you're trying to bring the sprouts temperature back up to super hot while slightly caramelizing both the sprouts and the garlic. This adds subtle sweetness to the dish. Cook for a few more minutes. Take the lid off the pan and add the lemon juice and butter. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Serve as is or with some Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Effort: Easy
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 side dish servings

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I just cooked brussels today for the first time. They taste so bitter that I can't eat :(