Brussels sprouts have become very popular and trendy in recent years. As more and more chefs begin to pick up on the trend, the popularity of these little green power balls is only expected to increase in the coming months and years.
The Brussels sprout has long had the reputation of being one of the top five most-hated vegetables around the world, according to food surveys conducted a decade ago. That distinction of being a “vegetable villain” used to belong to spinach, broccoli and eggplant. How has this universally loathed, cabbage-like vegetable gained acceptance and favor — and even become “fashionable” in the culinary world?
Brussels sprouts, like many other bland or bitter vegetables, have only been disliked because they’ve always been cooked in the most boring, unimaginative ways. But in recent years, restaurant chefs have hit upon more creative recipes — sautéing, grilling, roasting, caramelizing and flash-frying Brussels sprouts in ways that please the taste buds of adults, as well as children, who generally hate vegetables.
These small vegetables (which resemble miniature cabbages) are also packed with vital nutrition. They’re rich in beneficial antioxidants, and contain a surprisingly high amount of protein (for a vegetable), as well as vitamins C and K, B vitamins, potassium, folate, manganese and many other nutrients. Since they are part of the cruciferous vegetable family, they have been shown to be especially important in helping to fight cancer. They’ve also been shown to help fight heart disease and support healthy digestion.
I’ve personally tried more than twenty Brussels sprouts dishes at various restaurants and — hands down — the best one I’ve experienced is the Crispy Brussels Sprouts offered at Katsuya restaurant in Glendale, California. [Katsuya also has other branches in California, Nevada, Florida, the Bahamas, Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.] Katsuya “flash fries” the sprouts’ leaves (making them crispy like chips), and then tosses them with a balsamic-soy glaze, toasted almonds and scallions. It’s a crowd-pleasing rendition of this once-maligned vegetable — one that would delight even veggie-haters.
As part of Underground Health Reporter’s Meatless Monday issue, I’m featuring a recipe that’s a copycat of Katsuya’s Crispy Brussels Sprouts dish. This recipe can be a side dish, a light lunch, or an appetizer. Whomever you serve these super crispy little sprouts to will enjoy them to the utmost — guaranteed. Although Katsuya’s version flash-fries the Brussels sprout leaves, you can get the same crispy effect with a hot oven. Hint: Spend a few minutes of extra prep time to separate the leaves of each sprout so that they’ll have a nice, toasty crunch when you take them out of the oven.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic-Soy Glaze, Almonds and Scallion
Servings: 4 (when served as a side dish/appetizer); or 2 (when served as a main salad)
1 pound Brussels sprouts (with leaves separated using a sharp knife)
6 scallions, green and white parts, sliced thinly
¼ cup raw almond slivers
3 tablespoons avocado oil
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon organic soy sauce or Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon honey
Preheat the oven to 350° F and set it on Convection, if your oven has that option.
Using a sharp paring knife, trim the stems off the Brussels sprouts and peel away the outer leaves, placing the leaves into a large bowl. Continue trimming the stems and peeling away the leaves, until you get to the core wherein the leaves no longer separate easily. .
Add the scallions and almonds to the bowl of leaves and the cores, and toss with the avocado oil to coat evenly. Spread the leaves and the cores in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with pepper.
Bake the Brussels sprouts for about 15 minutes or until browned and crisped, tossing halfway through and removing the leaves as soon as they are ready (some leaves may brown sooner than other leaves, and the cores will take the longest to brown).
While the Brussels sprouts are cooking, combine the vinegar and soy sauce in a small pan and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer over low heat until reduced to a syrupy consistency, 4 to 5 minutes (be careful not to overcook or burn). Stir in the honey.
Place the Brussels sprouts on a serving platter and drizzle with some of the balsamic-soy syrup to taste; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.