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Monday, November 19, 2012

Brussel Sprouts Roasted on the Stalk

I simply adore brussel sprouts. Intrigued by their appearance and vibrant color, these were the reasons I went ahead and got my first very bunch of brussel sprouts during my final uni year in Glasgow. The first time I had them boiled, and the first eventually led me to many more - roasted, steamed and even stir fried. These are miniature cabbage-like sprouts with a flavor so distinct yet totally indescribable. Ermmm... like a cabbage? Yea, a wee bit of that plus a wee bit of broccoli too I think. And kinda nutty with a tinge of bitter-sweetness on top of all those. So yea, they can be rather overwhelming for some and I have gathered that this is something that you either simply love or easily hate.

Strolling through the isles in Trader Joe's as as we spent our weekend hopping from one marketplace to another, hubby spotted this - the brussel sprouts stalks. Mini heads of baby cabbages spiraling artistically around the stalk, each stalk is simply too-good looking a masterpiece it's not quite possible to just walk pass without stopping by to admire it. A fascinating sight it sure was! Plus when you have a choice between these sprouts on stalk vs those loose sprouts bundled up - the stalks always win hands down because the sprouts deteriorate as soon as they are off their nutrition pillar. Not only do the stalks resemble the limited editions of these sprouts in the Brassica family, the stalks keep the sprouts' livelihood better so they generally stay fresher over a longer period of time. And as if all those are not quite sufficient to convince you into getting one, the one in Trader Joe's comes complete with a recipe recommendation - just what this post is all about! lol.

Oh and an extra note on choosing them as how a crew on site shared her tips with me - as long as the stems show no sign of browning or drying and the leaves look all fresh and vibrantly green, they generally define a good and fresh stalk. And you will want the sprouts to be about the same size so that they will all cook at the same time. Go for those medium-small ones (well this last piece of tip is my own lol), because I do find them more tender and sweeter most of the time. A last note: don't overcook them. Like all vegetables, they are best served crisp-tender.

Brussel Sprouts Roasted on the Stalk 
Adapted from Trader Joe's recipe
Serves 7-8
1 brussel sprouts stalk
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
2 handsful dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds for garnishing

1. Preheat oven at 350°F. The recipe calls for the stalk to be roasted whole. I had the stalk halved, one half with the sprouts picked, the other half left as it is. 

2. Working with one brussel sprout at a time, trim the stalk ends off removing any leaves that fall apart with it. These ends often are the culprits to the occasional unpleasant bitterness in brussel sprouts. With the other half of the stalk, trim the stalk of any unsightly parts.

3. Rinse them well in fresh water and drain. Working in two batches first with the loose sprouts then with the stalks, wrap them in cling wrap and heat in the microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Whisk maple syrup and olive oil together in a bowl. Place the stalk in the center on a roasting pan lined with aluminium foil and spread the loose sprouts in a single layer on both sides of the stalk.
5. Pour the maple syrup mixture over; season to taste with salt and black pepper. Roast for 45 minutes until tender.
6. To serve, transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds.

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