I’ve had a tortured relationship with brussel sprouts for a while. In my efforts to like all things plant-based, or at least tolerate them, two beautiful green vegetables have stood in my way time and time again: kale and brussel sprouts. Kale is a work in progress. I’m convinced that, at some point, I will get kicked out of park slope if I don’t start eating and loving kale, at which time I’ll do what I have to in order to make it work (or, move). Brussel sprouts are different. They’re not quite as trendy, and people aren’t shoving them in your face and plastering them all over the menu at every ridiculous quinoa-serving cafe in the neighborhood. I really want to like these tiny adorable mini-cabbages, and I certainly don’t hate them, they’ve just never been something I’m really into, and green vegetables are otherwise kinda my thing. My friend Lindsey, however, loves brussel sprouts so much that she is known to wax poetic about stalks, sprouts, and the like. So of course, when she sent me a recipe for a brussel sprout salad that looked tasty, I saw it as both an endorsement from a brussel sprout connoisseur, and a challenge to put my own spin on it and try to make things right between the sprouts and me.
The recipe she sent me was simple enough, so I followed it pretty closely, and then got creative. I trimmed the stems and cut in half about a pound of sprouts, and sautéed them with a bag of craisins (I wanted real cranberries but my crappy local Key foods store didn’t have them so I had to get creative). I used a little olive oil, but the sprouts char quickly and suck up the oil like crazy, so I sprayed my spout/craisins (spaisins? crouts?) with a blast of cooking spray every 2 minutes or so, and let them cook for about ten minutes. Then, I added a squeeze of light maple syrup, and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar to the mix and removed it from the heat. I then mixed the sprouts mixture with a few big spoonfuls of cooked barley (start this first, by the way, as the barley takes about an hour to cook), a handful of pecans, (this is where I start to deviate from the recipe) thinly sliced pieces of 1 whole green apple, and some crumbled blue cheese, and tossed it all together.
Salad to me requires leafy greens, and dinner to me requires protein, so I scooped a spoonful of the sprout salad onto an actual green salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, and green onions, and served the salad with a few slabs of lite tofu, which I sautéed with some hoisin sauce and a splash of low sodium soy sauce, on the side. It all went together nicely, and was so filling I could barely finish half a bowl. Where do I stand on brussel sprouts, you ask? Eh, we’re getting there, and I actually ate a few. Still better than kale, and that counts for something.