Whoever said “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” was mistaken. Despite believing for years that the only vegetable I truly loathe is Brussels sprouts, I have discovered that it – like that old saying – just isn’t true.
First, let me state that I’ve employed many methods of trying to make the mushy green spheres of bitter dreadfulness palatable (using various recipes for roasting or boiling them) but, when it came time to eat them, they still tasted terrible. I concluded that I simply didn’t like them.
Repeated unpleasant experiences with Brussels sprouts reinforced my view, but I remained puzzled because I like other brassica, just not Brussels sprouts. And, shockingly, so many people (and not necessarily folks I’d call “gastronomically adventurous”) raved about how much they enjoyed the sprouty nightmares…was I missing a key element of the process? It was a mystery that needed solving.
Being an open-minded sort about food, I decided to give it yet another try. Mr. fMf found what sounded like a great base recipe and it provided a tip that we hadn’t tried before: remove the outer leaves before cooking. We made substantial changes to that recipe – find our recipe here.
So I began by removing those dark outer leaves, taking off any that seemed loose or damaged. We then tossed the sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper; spread them on a baking tray; and liberally dressed them in grated Parmesan. Then they went into the air fryer oven.
While cooking, they smelled amazing. I wondered: could it be? Could this be the recipe that would change my perspective on Brussels sprouts??
In short, yes. The sprouts came out delicious, and I was floored. I had spent years convinced that they were disgusting, and that fans either pretended to enjoy them (possibly while secretly laughing at the suckers who choked the monstrosities down) or had some affliction or genetic quirk (or perhaps I was the anomaly?) that made the little nasties taste good to them. Ultimately – despite my suspicions – it really wasn’t a conspiracy at all.
Turns out, a properly seasoned and cooked Brussels sprout is a combination of salty (from the fresh Parmesan cheese and sea salt) and sweet (from caramelization), with just a hint of brassica bitterness and aromatic black pepper.The cooking process caused these ingredients to meld into a well-balanced finished dish. The exterior of the sprouts was dark and crispy after roasting, but the interior was soft and slightly sweet. I seriously can’t stop eating them.
This experience reminded me that it’s never too late for something new to completely upend what you thought you knew, in a very good way. Keeping an open mind, being willing to try something multiple times (with tweaks), being curious – all are important and may even be life-changing. Simply peeling off old outer leaves can sometimes reveal an unexpected treasure. Keep learning and growing…and eat your Brussels sprouts in good health.