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When You Can’t Kick Your Brussels Sprouts Habit

February 29, 2012
brussels sprouts

Oven roasted Brussels sprouts

Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parsley
Total Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Meals have not been too extravagant around here lately. By lately I mean the last 15 months and by not extravagant I mean that last night we ate salad and popcorn after O went to bed.  Since O was born I’ve tried all the strategies that are supposed to make cooking with a baby attached to your boob/hip/leg easier, with mixed success.

For awhile I thought a pressure cooker was the answer. It can turn a chicken or chunk of beef or even beans into a tender, flavorful meal in less than an hour, but it’s loud. Like a train going through your kitchen, loud.  This means that when (if) the baby is napping and you actually have two free hands to handle raw chicken, you can’t get a jumpstart on dinner because it will wake the baby. If you happen to have a baby who’s sensitive to noise, cooking while they’re awake isn’t an option either because the pressure cooker will scare the daylights out of them. The way that O winces and shuts her eyes every time we make coffee already makes me think she’s going to have lifelong PTSD from the sound of the coffee grinder, so the pressure cooker was not the answer to my cooking dilemma.

Since the pressure cooker wasn’t working out, I went in the completely other direction and bought a slow cooker. I felt all wise and motherly the first morning I loaded it with rice  and veggies and a pork loin. As I went about my day it was so satisfying knowing that dinner was cooking itself while I worked and chased O around at the playground. But then we ate dinner…while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t amazing either. It seems like no matter what I put in the slow cooker and how I season it, the meal can always be described by two words: mushy food.

Storing frozen meals that I’ve cooked and can just throw in the oven to reheat isn’t realistic given my tiny, crappy freezer and how, I ask,  does one come upon an entirely child-free day to cook 10 meals to freeze anyway? We have a handful of frozen foods from Trader Joe’s that are on a semi-regular rotation, but if you eat too much food from Trader Joe’s it all ends up tasting the same, whether it’s pot stickers or bean burritos.

So, probably like most everyone else we end up winging it quite often and on many nights lately winging it involves Brussels sprouts. Why Brussels sprouts? Because I have a Brussels sprouts craving I can’t kick. This pattern of being totally in love with one food and eating it constantly is not new for me. I’ve been through it with Greek yogurt and pita chips and the giant pecan bar with the shortbread crust at Lark Bakery that I bought three times in one week before cutting myself off. I’ve had an obsession with peanut butter and marcona almonds and this insane bread that has chunks of asiago cheese baked into it.

When the craving is finally satisfied, my obsession ends and I rarely eat the food again. Or at least, I don’t eat it with the same gusto. I’ve noticed this same pattern with O. She was eating so much string cheese for awhile that I was actually a little worried. She would wake up at 5:30am and when I’d drag myself into her room she would stop crying just long enough to say, “cheeeese?” in her squeaky little voice. But then, suddenly, she lost interest. For weeks I couldn’t buy string cheese often enough and now our fridge is a graveyard of half-eaten nubs of cheese.

As for me, I’ve been on my Brussels sprouts kick for awhile now with no signs of slowing down. I really only cook them one way: bathed in olive oil, roasted in the oven and garnished with parsley and salt. While I love the tender, crisp middle and earthy, cabbagey flavor of the sprout itself, my favorite part is the paper-thin layers that peel loose and become crispy to the point of almost burnt.

Often, I boil pasta and put the Brussels sprouts on top with a generous amount of grated cheese. Sometimes I serve them with rice. When all the stars align, they’re a side dish with salmon or meat. The recipe is here, but all you need to know is this: Cut the sprouts in half or fourths. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or so, stirring only once or twice. Garnish with fresh parsley and salt. The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity. Try it once and see if you don’t fall in love, too.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. MOM permalink
    February 29, 2012 9:49 pm

    Love that you love Brussels Sprouts:) Great post!

  2. cousin permalink
    March 1, 2012 6:21 pm

    Awesome! I’m usually in a hurry (like a hunger hurry, not a time hurry) when I make these so I cheat and cut them in half, put them in a covered bowl in the microwave for a minute or so, and then finish cooking them on the stove in a pan with olive oil salt and pepper. I too have come to really like the browned leaves the best!

  3. beachmom permalink
    September 6, 2012 5:02 am

    Love brussel sprouts. Just had some while I googled them to see why I crave them so much. I understand it’s all in my head, but just the same, there’s the craving and nothing else will satisfy. Mmm mmm good article. Thanks for posting.

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