When I was a kid, my dad LOVED Brussels sprouts. I DID NOT!
I hated them so much that I wouldn’t even TRY them again until about 4 years ago. (I’m 43 now)
I was somewhere between 6 and 8 years old when this horrible, traumatizing story took place.
We lived in North Carolina and I can still very clearly remember sitting at that table in the dining room for a VERY LONG TIME all by myself. It was just me and my dinner plate with 4 GIANT, STINKY BRUSSELS SPROUTS on it. I think this was the only time I was ever made to sit at the table to finish my vegetables. It was a very traumatizing experience.
I was at the head of the table in the formal dining room. The dining room had the table, china cabinets to the right and a wall length stereo cabinet to the left.Some of you may think “stereo cabinet”? come on, it was the 70′s. We had one. Turn table in the middle section and I’m pretty sure it also housed an 8-track player. 🙂 Latticed doors with red velvety fabric. Lots of albums and 8-tracks behind the doors. The dining room opened up into the formal living room complete with gold velvety sofa that was only used when we had company or for Christmas.
On this night, that room was being used to torture a poor sweet little girl with big, mean, ugly BRUSSELS SPOUTS.
See….. sweet and innocent…..
1st Grade Picture.
I was there all alone while the rest of the family was in the family room watching TV. I sat at the table very quietly. (this may shock some but I can go days without speaking)
Every now and then I’d pick up a Brussels sprout, get up from my chair all quiet and sneaky and drop it behind the stereo cabinet. I’d then go sit back down and pout about having to be there. (I was a very good pouter). This went on until I only had 1 Brussels sprout left on the plate.
I was finally excused from the table and NEVER mentioned my Brussels sprout deception to anyone.
A year or two later my dad got orders and we were on our way to Texas. (Military kid) I still remember the complete panic that came over me when we started packing.
The movers were coming and I knew they were going to find the Brussels sprouts and I was going to get a spanking. I was so upset and worried but still didn’t say a word. I kept walking into that room to check out what was going on but no sign of the sprouts.
The Brussels spouts were never found and I didn’t get in trouble but I do remember being very confused about how they weren’t there anymore. (I was a kid, just laugh and let it go).
I kept this horrible secret for many, many years. I finally told my mom about it a few years ago. (I can keep a secret forever) and she laughed so hard she was crying and I thought she was going to pee her pants. Funny thing was that as a grown woman I was still scared to tell.
Even now as I’m sitting here thinking about it and I’m laughing BUT I’m still not telling DAD!
Move forward to 2010, I was living in Walnut Creek, California and had spent the morning at the farmers market. They had lots and lots of Brussels sprouts and I decided to try them. My thought was “I like cabbage and they’re really just little, more bitter cabbages so what the heck”. I tried them and LOVED THEM. I think I ate them every day for a week and again at least weekly after that for a while. I even cooked them for my parents once and they loved them (but we did no speak of the incident) I still eat them often and have experimented with different ways to cook them.
This is one of my quick and easy favorites. It’s a great side dish but also really good as a lighter main dish. When I do this, I make a lot so that I can eat this dish with dinner but also have some for lunch the next day (and sometimes for dinner the following night)
Keeps for a few days, reheats easily and is pretty yummy.
Super Easy Brussels Sprouts with Orecchiette, Hazelnuts, Bacon and Parmesan:1 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts.
1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked orecchiette (al dente) 1/2 cup hazelnuts 1/4 cup parmesan (I prefer shaved to finely grated) 1 stick butter (unsalted) Salt and pepper to taste Chicken or vegetable brothFirst brown the butter. Reserve 2 tbsp. butter and put the rest in a pan on medium heat until bubbly and browning. Keep in mind that brown butter and burned butter is a difference of seconds not minutes. (I have burned A LOT of butter) pour into a cool dish to stop the cooking and set aside.Cut stem section off Brussels sprouts, cut in half and discard the unhappy-looking loose leaves.Add 1 tbsp. butter to pan over medium heat and add shelled hazelnuts. Toast lightly (about 3 minutes). Be carful not to burn. Set aside to cool then give a coarse chop.
Use kitchen shears to cut up raw bacon and add to pan. Cook until desired crispiness and set on paper towels to drain fully.
Add remaining tbsp. butter to pan. Once melted, add Brussels sprouts. Using a wooden spoon, stir to prevent sticking but let them caramelize a bit. Add a splash of stock to deglaze pan if desired. (added about 1/4 cup while cooking) Stir occasionally until they begin to soften (five to seven minutes). Salt and pepper to taste.
Add pasta, hazelnuts, bacon and then brown butter. Be careful when adding the butter. A little goes a long way. You may only want 1/2 of it. It’s easier to add than remove so add a little, stir, taste, add more, etc. Top with parmesan and fresh pepper.