Ask most people to name a vegetable they hate, and the answer more likely than not will be brussels sprouts.
That’s understandable — when brussels sprouts are overcooked, they turn to mush and taste like a barnyard. When undercooked, they can be bitter and tough.
But when prepared properly, brussels sprouts are addictive with the delicate sweetness of great cabbage, but with a more complex vegetable flavor.
Lately, they’ve been showing up on menus all over town prepared in a variety of ways — sautéed with bacon, roasted with olive oil, served in pasta.
Brussels sprouts grow on stalks, and look like tiny cabbages, to which they are related. The smaller the sprout, the more tender and sweet it is; avoid any that are puffy or yellowish. They keep in the refrigerator for several days. If the sprouts are large, cut them in halves or quarters and trim the tiny root end.
Brussels sprouts are delicious sliced, tossed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and herbs and roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. You can also peel off the leaves and cook them quickly with a little bacon for a warm, wilted salad. Cook them by whatever method you choose just until they are crisp-tender and bright-colored.
Brussels sprouts make an excellent accompaniment for almost any meat dish. If you are among the many brussels sprouts haters, the recipe here, from chef Art Smith, may convert you.
Carole Kotkin is manager of the Ocean Reef Club cooking school and co-author of “Mmmmiami: Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere.”