As someone who grew up a very picky eater, until recently, I had an aversion to brussel sprouts based solely on their reputation as being a food that was more of a punishment than anything else. I don’t think I had ever actually had one, just seen kids on television and the movies groaning when their mothers brought a heaping bowl of brussel sprouts to the table. Lo and behold, when I actually tried one several years ago, turns out they’re not half bad. Plus I feel always feel virtuous for eating them.
In the short time I’ve been eating brussel sprouts, I haven’t been very adventurous with them….a little steaming, perhaps some microwaving…some salt or pepper. But they’re one of the staples at the farmer’s market this time of year, so I decided to pick some up and try to do something a little more adventurous with them this time. I’ve been mostly making side dishes these days as we are trying to work our way through a freezer full of fish filets and chicken breasts, so when I came across Peter Berley’s recipe for brussel sprouts with fennel seeds in The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, I thought I’d take a stab at it. In a cookbook full of long ingredient lists, this one was short and simple and I was drawn to his opening phrase, “Here’s an incredibly fast cooking method…” Sign me up!
Turns out, perhaps I should have read a bit further. The cooking part is super fast- maybe 5 minutes. Chopping your brussel sprouts into tiny slices is a bit more time intensive, especially for those of us who still need to work on our knife skills. As Dylan said, chopping brussel sprouts seems sort of ridiculous, like dicing a cherry tomato. I mean, why not take advantage of their cute, bite-sized natural portioning? But that said, the leaves really grab sauces and spices in a way that the whole heads can’t. So if you’re willing to do a little bit of prep work to slice them up, this is a quick and tasty veggie, with fennel and cider vinegar to give an unexpected kick.
Brussel sprouts with fennel seed (serves 4)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 lb brussel sprouts, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp water
1 tsp coarse sea salt cider vinegar and black pepper to taste
1. Warm the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds and toast for 1 minute.
2. Add the brussel sprouts, water, and salt. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat. After 5 minutes, uncover and toss with cider vinegar and pepper to taste. Serve hot.