Miniature Lettuce and Brussel Sprouts, Not The Same Thing

When I was 8 I went to a dinner party with my Grandfather at the home of the man whom he had just lost the mayoral race to in a town in California. I only vaguely understood the nuances of the situation, but because I was in a dress, not easy to do, and in my fancy shoes that clicked, I understood that this was one of those ‘good behavior’ times, which in my case largely meant keeping my mouth shut.  I believe that I may have been the only person in the vicinity that was younger than grandparent age. After an exhausting session of answering boring adult questions like: “Where do you live?”,”What do you want to be when you up?” and “Do you like Disneyland?” to which I resisted the smart ass response of: “No, I’m the only small human in the state of California that hates a good time,” we finally sat down to dinner and I was delighted to discover tiny lettuce heads nestled together on my plate. This miniaturized food was new to me and I happily popped one into my mouth. I expected the sweet clean burst of lettuce juicy coolness to race across my tongue but what I got was a flavor bomb of rotten cabbage, urine and mold in the form of an overcooked what I now know was a brussel sprout. After I spit it out across the table almost hitting the man who had defeated my grandfather I tried very hard but unsuccessfully to not burst into tears. I acutely remember my outraged sense of betrayal.

I shunned the brussel sprout for several years, until I met a man for whom this was his favorite vegetable. As evidence that I will do just about anything to encourage people to make fabulous food choices I decided to give the brussel sprout another try and I’m glad that I did. I now have them in my house nearly constantly during the season. I shred them into chicken soups. I roast them into slightly brown perfection, like Tiny Urban Kitchen and White on Rice Couple , who add balsamic to their roasted sprouts. Lots of people love Brussel Sprout Au Gratin, which honestly is not my favorite way of eating them, but La Bella Cook has a great recipe that uses Gruyere cheese, bacon and walnuts.  My absolute favorite way to eat the now forgiven brussel sprout is to peel them and sauté the leaves making a simple warm salad. Peeling them is a little time-consuming, but well worth the results.

Warm Brussel Sprout Salad

20-25 large brussels sprouts

4 tablespoons good sweet cream salted butter

1 ½ teaspoons ground pepper.

Clean your sprouts by pulling off the few outside leaves that will be tough to the touch, these will not soften when you cook them. I recommend cutting off the bottoms and taking the leaves off that way. When you can no longer easily take the leaves off, you should be at the core which is a very pale yellow/light green color. You can either discard the core of use them in a vegetable soup. Once the leaves are peeled. Wash them and let them dry. The leaves will keep in the fridge in a plastic bag for a few days.

Brown the butter in a large pan over a medium high heat  Once the butter is brown add all of the brussels sprout leaves, sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons pepper and using a spatula quickly coat the leaves in the butter cooking them in the pan until done, about 3 minutes. Some of the leaves will crisp up, these are my favorite ones. Put in bowl and serve warm. You can taste and add salt if you wish, but I find that the salt from the butter is enough for me.


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