My New Favorite Vegetable

There was a time not long ago when hearing the words “Brussels sprouts” and “yummy” in the same breath could throw me into paroxysms of uncontrollable mirth — roaring belly laughs and knee-slapping guffaws were sure to ensue.  Indeed, the thought that these little miniature cabbagy-looking things from the Brassica family of vegetables could be tasty was the very height of risibility… except when I think back to the torture inflicted on me as a child with these nefarious green bulbs of doom.  It wasn’t funny back then, I tell you.

Ah, how things change as we mature.  I long ago ceased to look upon Brussels sprouts with dread the way I did in my youth, but neither had I developed any kind of a fondness for them because most cooking methods could not overcome (and often accentuated) the inherit bitterness that lurks in this plant, waiting to savage the unsuspecting palate (okay, maybe a tiny bit of hyperbole there — old prejudices die hard).  Nevertheless, culinary school instilled in me a new sense of adventure and a willingness to lay aside old biases and discover afresh the possibilities of ingredients I had once disdained.

Which brings me to today’s post.

One of my favorite magical ingredients in the kitchen — my “cheats” if you will — is agave nectar.  It’s a potent sweetener that, unlikely honey with its very distinctive taste, is flavor-neutral.  It lends sweetness only, and thus is able to work wonders to balance harsh or bitter flavors from other ingredients.   That makes it perfect for this recipe — Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Shallots.  Here are your ingredients to make 3-4 servings:

  • 1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 tbsp. agave nectar

Start by washing the sprouts, and cut off the stems.  Split them in half length-wise, lay the pieces flat, and slice them up cross-wise to shred.  The shallot can be diced small or sliced thin, according to your preference.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium flame, then add the shredded sprouts and shallots.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, then stir in the agave nectar.  Cook about 10-15 minutes until the sprouts are tender.  You may want to reduce the heat to avoid excessive caramelization –but a little bit is good to bring out a bit more natural sweetness.  If you’re feeling adventurous, sprinkle in a little red chili flakes to give a hint of heat.

IMG_1030_edited

There you have it — the vegetable dish that has become our new favorite here at Chez Dave.  This batch was served with pan-seared pork chops and sweet cinnamon apples.  We munched it down with a big happy grin on our faces, and I know you will too when you try this recipe.  Until our next get-together:  Eat well, my friends!

 

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