A quick, easy way to cook the misunderstood, maligned vegetable
By Scott Douglas
I really like Brussels sprouts. Maybe your urge to call me a loser will lessen if I tell you I haven't always liked what the French call "little cabbages." The Brussels sprouts I had growing up were boiled and bland, the epitome of vegetable-as-castor-oil. But I've learned in middle age that things that once seemed great can now be repulsive (handfuls of fried chicken skin), and vice versa (hats off to coffee). So when I started seeing stalks of Brussels sprouts at the farmers market, I figured they were due another try.
In addition to an open mind, the key to enjoying Brussels sprouts is simple preparation that brings out the essence of their flavour. Pan searing them as per the recipe below is a quick, easy way to do so. Brussels sprouts prepared this way make a great side dish that goes well with pretty much anything.
A note on the sprouts: If you have access to a good farmers market, you should be able to find Brussels sprouts sold on the stalk. If so, get them – they usually taste fresher. To remove the sprouts from the stalk, grab near the base of each sprout and give it a quick turn.
PAN-SEARED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
What you'll need:
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1-2 teaspoons caraway seed (optional)
How to make it:
1. Prepare the sprouts for searing by cutting off the stem and then slicing each one in half length-wise.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in as wide of a pan as you have. Place each sprout half flat side down in the pan. (Because this can take a while, I usually start placing them in the pan as soon as I've started heating the oil.)
3. If you want, sprinkle in the caraway seed, which adds a nice hint of rye flavour to the finished dish.
4. Sprinkle salt over the sprout half globes as they start to cook.
5. Using a spatula, press the sprouts into the heated oil. Lower the heat to medium and mostly cover the pan for a couple of minutes.
6. Remove the lid, then again use the spatula to press the sprouts.
7. After another minute or so, start checking the flat part of the sprouts. If most of them have a golden, seared tinge, they're done. Use the spatula to transfer the sprouts to a serving dish.
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