The comic columnist Dave Barry does not mince words when referring to his cruciferous childhood nemesis: “We kids feared many things in those days -- werewolves, dentists, North Koreans, Sunday school -- but they all paled in comparison to Brussels sprouts.”
Heck, I’d add liver, beets and spinach to a list of culinary horrors. Luckily, most palates grow up.
Need a big-kid reason to eat Brussels sprouts?
The vegetable’s cancer-fighting properties should persuade even the pickiest eater to open wide. One cup of the frozen green orbs has about 50 calories. They are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a fair source of iron.
Often a strong dislike for a particular food has to do with its preparation. For instance, I’ll skip liver and onions for a silky-smooth French pate, slippery canned beets for naturally sweet oven-roasted ruby reds and mushy canned spinach for a crisp, fresh salad.
It’s no secret overcooked Brussels sprouts emit a sulfurous stink. The Star’s Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts bring out the vegetable’s natural sweetness without the off-putting smell. Our testers chose frozen sprouts because they’re available year-round, but you can also use fresh whenever in season, typically August through March.
Salty bits of prosciutto, sweet dried cranberries and crunchy pecan pieces offer a snazzy garnish.
C’mon, what’s not to like?
Shopping tip: Traditional balsamic vinegar is most often made of the Trebbiano grape from Modena, Italy. Thick, sweet and syrupy, gourmet balsamic vinegar is aged in wooden barrels. Supermarket varieties are aged for a couple of months in steel tanks. Buy what fits your budget.
BALSAMIC ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Makes 4 servings
1 (16-ounce) package frozen Brussels sprouts, thawed, or equivalent amount fresh sprouts
Olive oil cooking spray
1 thin slice (scant ½ ounce) prosciutto, diced into small pieces
2 tablespoons pecan pieces
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 15-by-10-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pat Brussels sprouts completely dry and place in a single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with prosciutto. Spray generously with olive oil spray. Roast for 30 minutes.
Stir and sprinkle with pecans and cranberries. Spray again with olive oil spray and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until tender and pecans are slightly toasted.
Whisk together red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Dijon and olive oil. Place Brussels sprouts in medium bowl and drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss gently to coat.