I am a vegetarian so vegetables are clearly an important part of my diet. At a recent dinner party, a group of us were discussing how our love for vegetables has evolved over the years. Had our taste buds changed? Was it because we were buying more organic vegetables now? After some debate, we realized the answer was a little bit of freshness and a dash of creativity.
When we were little, my brother and I usually dreaded the vegetable portions of our dinners, which typically included a rotation of carrots, corn, and brussels sprouts. Without fail, my brother would drop pieces of corn all over the carpet as he tossed them around his plate infuriating my father. Tasteless carrots were met with eye rolls until Dad convinced us that if we ate more carrots we would be able to see through the wall of our twin home and spy on our neighbor Lissa eating her dinner as well. And the worst of all – the brussels sprouts. Sorry mom, but they were just inedible. There isn’t much else to say.
So imagine my horror when, after a month or two of living together, Ryan requested brussels sprouts for dinner one night.(Note: he only makes requests after I relentlessly plead “What do you want for dinner?”). Now, it had probably been about 20 years since I tasted a brussels sprout and the feelings were still raw. “Really? You want me to make those?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied. “I really love brussels sprouts.” In that moment, I realized three things: 1) I have no idea how to make brussels sprouts; 2) I am going to have to eat brussels sprouts again; and 3) I need some help.
No, I didn’t call my mother. Back in those days, she cooked vegetables by opening a package or can, boiling them in a pot with 1-2 tablespoons of water, and serving. Instead, I did a little research and hit my local food stand for some fresh brussels sprouts. With a little olive oil, some garlic, and some parmesan cheese, I actually ended up with quite a tasty dish and Ryan loved it too. Since then, I’ve sautéed them and roasted them in the oven a few different ways. And mom, I don’t blame you. You did the best you could. Being the most fashionable and cool mom on the block tends to retract from one’s cooking focus.
Below are two great recipes for brussels sprouts and carrots that are easy, healthy and delicious. Both are from Mollie Katzen’s book “Get Cooking: 150 Simple Recipes to Get You Started in the Kitchen.”
Braised Brussels Sprouts in Mustard Sauce
• 1 pound of brussels sprouts
• 1 TB olive oil
• 1/3 cup minced shallots
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ cup water, divided
• ¼ cup mustard
• 2 TB brown sugar
• Freshly ground black pepper
Cut off the base of a sprout with a sharp knife. Slice a piece from side of the sprout. Place it cut side down and cut it crosswise into about 5 slices. Repeat with all sprouts. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Add olive oil to coat the skillet. Add shallots and sauté for two minutes. Stir in sprouts, salt, and 3 tablespoons of water; spread everything evenly across the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover for five minutes.
Meanwhile, combine mustard, brown sugar, and remaining water in a small bowl and stir. Once sprouts have cooked for 5 minutes, pour mustard mixture over them and stir. Remove from heat. Serve hot or warm with a little ground black pepper.
This is super easy. You cut 5 carrots into 1/4 inch slices on the diagonal. Heat a skillet on medium and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tsp. ground cumin, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Cook for 30 seconds. Add carrots and ½ tsp. minced garlic. Turn with thongs. Add ½ tsp. salt, cover, and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Serves 4.