Brussels Sprouts by Dana Carpender

Autumn is leaf season, deer season, Halloween season, and – Brussels sprouts season! However, Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that are often invoked as evidence that vegetables in general are loathsome, nowhere near as tasty as some other categories of foods. I, too, once disliked Brussels sprouts, yet I have come not only to like them, but to love them, and so has my formerly Brussels-sprout-phobic husband.

Since Brussels sprouts are moderately low carb and highly nutritious, like all of the cabbage family, this is a fine turn of events. A half a cup of Brussels sprouts contains 7 grams of carbohydrate with 2 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 5 grams. They also have 2 grams of protein – not a lot, but pretty good for a green vegetable. They’re a good source of potassium, with 247 mgs, and of vitamin A, with 561 International Units. They have respectable amounts of vitamin C and folate, too. Plus current research suggests vegetables in the cabbage group offer protection against some forms of cancer. Some bonus!

I didn’t even try Brussels sprouts until I was grown up; they weren’t anything my mom served when I was a kid. When I did finally try them, I expected to like them. I figured that I liked cabbage, and Brussels sprouts were just “Barbie cabbages.” I don’t know if I got a bad batch, or cooked them wrong (if I recall correctly I steamed them and served them with butter and salt,) but they were disappointingly bitter. I didn’t try Brussels sprouts again for years.

Then we went to visit our dear friends John and Judy Horwitz. They were preparing dinner when we got there, and asked, “Do you like Brussels sprouts?” “Not really…” we replied. “You will!” they said, cheerily. And to our great surprise, they were right. We scarfed down Brussels sprouts, and were sorry when they were gone!

How were they cooked? Just heat an inch or so of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed kettle or skillet, add a couple of pounds of fresh Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed, and – in the words of the Horwitzes – “burn the heck out of them.” Yep, fry them till they’re dark brown all over. At the last moment, stir in 4 or 5 crushed cloves of garlic. Lift them out with a slotted spoon, drain well, salt lightly, and prepare to be amazed! Every time I’ve served these at dinner parties, they draw raves – especially from people who were sure they didn’t like Brussels sprouts! This is enough for 6-8 people. Since the oil adds no carbs, you can go with the count above.

Another great thing to do with these little bitty cabbages is to run them through the slicing blade of your food processor. The result seems like a whole new vegetable. I like to saute this “Brussels chiffonade” in butter, which yields a particularly sweet and nutty result. Season in various ways – here’s my favorite. My husband took a bite of these, pointed to his plate, and said, “You could make these again!” Really wonderful. This would make a great holiday side dish!

Orange Pecan Sprouts

    • 1 pound Brussels sprouts (0.5 kg)
    • 1/3 cup chopped pecans (75 ml, 40 g)
    • 3 tablespoons butter (50 ml)
    • 3 tablespoons orange juice (50 ml)
    • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (5 ml)

Trim the stems of your Brussels sprouts, and remove any wilted outer leaves. Then run them through the slicing blade of your food processor.

In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, start sauteing the pecans in the butter. After about 2 minutes, add the sliced Brussels sprouts, and saute the two together, stirring every few minutes, until the sprouts soften and start to have a few brown spots. While they’re sauteing, you can grate your orange zest, then squeeze your orange juice. (You could use bottled orange juice, but since you need the zest, too, fresh just makes sense.) When the sprouts are tender and flecked with brown, stir in the juice and zest, cook for just another minute, and serve.

4 servings, each with 12 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 7 grams per serving. 4 grams of protein.

Recipe reprinted from 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes with permission of Fair Winds Press.

© 2010 by Dana Carpender. Used by permission of the author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.

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