As a kid, I really hated Brussels sprouts. We didn’t eat them very often- they were usually reserved for Christmas dinner- over-steamed, lifeless, stinky- they always seemed so big, so difficult to eat, so completely gross. More recently, a cousin of mine mentioned that her adult boyfriend hates Brussels sprouts, much like I did as a kid. Well, having kids of my own, I’ve learned a couple tricks to overcome picky eating. One trick is to get creative about preparation. Steamed-to-death generally doesn’t make any vegetable appetizing, and robs them of most of their nutrients. Why not roast them? It takes almost zero effort, and transforms those humble Brussels sprouts into something completely photo-worthy.
Another trick to outsmarting a picky eater is to pair a small portion of the “gross” food with something he/she already loves. Why not do the same with grown ups? If you are trying to overcome yours or a loved one’s Brussels sprout aversion, I wholeheartedly recommend pairing them with something extra special. Roasted to golden perfection, and paired with something yummy, they become irresistible.
In this recipe, that extra something yummy is fresh figs. I am so happy I live in Europe because fresh figs are pretty easy to find in the fall when they’re in season (the season is very short unfortunately). As far as my experience goes, I’ve yet to see a fresh fig in Canada. If you can get your hands on good fresh figs, make haste, because they are, in my opinion, as close to the food of the gods as earthly food gets. They are gorgeous and just so damn SENSUAL. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: almost nothing excites me more than beautiful food (I said almost nothing, so pipe down, I know what you’re thinking!).
If you can’t find fresh figs, however, there are other options. Personally, I think nice slivers of a sweet, crunchy apple would be fantastic, as would as sliced purple grapes or pomegranate seeds. Get creative. Don’t feel that you need to follow this recipe to the letter.
- 2 cups Brussels Sprouts, washed
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 4 cups greens (mustard greens, rocket/arugula work well)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- 4 ripe purple figs
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- Good quality salt and pepper
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 180/350. Wash, dry, trim and halve your Brussels sprouts. Spread them on a baking sheet and coat thoroughly with half the olive oil, about two tbsp (I always pour the oil directly into my cupped hand and coat the veggies with my hands- I find it works best). Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, a bit of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until crispy.
- In a separate bowl, toss the greens with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice, and about a third of the fresh mint. Portion out onto four plates.
- When the Brussels Sprouts are finished, portion out about half a cup onto each bed of greens.
- Carefully slice the figs, and arrange about 3-4 slices on top of/around the Brussels sprouts.
- Sprinkle the walnuts and remaining mint on top of the salad. Give each plate an extra drizzle, about a tablespoon, of olive oil, and garnish with a bit of shaved Parmesan, if you're feeling particularly gourmande.
Regarding serving and portion size: this recipe makes about four nice sized salads that can either be a starter, followed by a light protein dish (in which case I would go easy on the nuts and cheese), or an elegant lunch or light dinner all on its own. If you want a heftier salad, just make two instead of four, which should provide a very filling main. I tried to strike a balance between fresh, warm, cozy and seasonal all at once. Let me know how you like it!