Roasted brussel sprouts with almonds, walnuts and garlic

We all have preconceived notions about certain foods, most of which stem from our childhood, and can sometimes stunt our knowledge as throughout our entire lives, we cling to these stereotypes and never even taste them, automatically proclaiming not to like them without ever giving them a chance. Case in point: brussel sprouts.

I grew up with the cliché of brussel sprouts being the disgusting vegetable, the one the really mean parents forced their kids to eat in the name of a balanced diet. I didn’t even know what one was supposed to taste like, I just knew that something that bad probably had no business being on my plate. I also previously believed this of mushrooms, onions, zucchini… and the list goes on. So, it wasn’t until about a week ago, when I spied some fresh and, dare I say appetizing little sprouts at my supermarket that I decided to give them a go.

I picked a simple recipe. I knew from what I’d read that they went well with nuts. I also knew garlic and shallots would be involved. My third criterion was that they be roasted, because, let’s face it, blanched or vapor-cooked vegetables, while higher in nutrition count, are sometimes lacking in flavor. After reading up on the bitter little guys, I settled on the following; the result was amazing. Less bitter than endive, yet full of flavor, enhanced by the lemon juice and pairing incredibly well with the pomegranate sauce that I happened to be serving along side them.

The moral of the story is: give food a chance. While you may not have enjoyed certain things as a youngster, your tastes have likely changed. Perhaps you’ve even had the food in question recently and hated it. Don’t forget that it’s all in the preparation. Different ingredients, a different cooking method, a fresher product; all of this can drastically change what you’re eating. And if, like me, you’ve just plain never tried it… Take the plunge!

Roasted brussel sprouts with almonds and walnuts
Inspired by Baby brussel sprouts with buttered pecans, from Gourmet 2006

Ingredients:

1 lb brussel sprouts, cut in half or in fourths, depending on the size
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T lemon juice
3 T olive oil
2-3 shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 C sliced almonds
1/3 C walnuts, crushed slightly
Salt and pepper

This recipe is fast and easy: just toss everything together in a bowl, place on a foil-lined cookie sheet and let it roast for about 30-35 minutes, or until the sprouts are tender. Just make sure that the mixture is evenly spread on your baking sheet for even roasting. Give the sprouts a quick stir about halfway through the cooking time. Pairs well with a sweet sauce, to cut the bitterness of the sprouts.

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