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Simple tricks make for perfect Brussels sprouts

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 9:52 a.m. CST
Caption
(AP photo)
Quick sauteed Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts and lemon

Brussels sprouts can generate some pretty strong opinions. As with cilantro or goat cheese, you either love them or hate them.

The little stinkers are the smallest of the crucifers and, when prepared incorrectly, can develop a scary aroma and deadly taste.

In fairness, it’s hard to cook Brussels sprouts to their best advantage because they are so densely constructed. By the time the heat gets to the core, there’s a good chance that the outside has been overcooked.

It used to be that I had no better idea about what to do with them than anyone else. I just followed the procedure I learned in cooking school – trim them, use a knife to score the bottom in a crisscross pattern 1/4 inch deep (so they cook more evenly), and boil or steam them until done. The results were not exactly inspiring.

It wasn’t until the Two Hot Tamales showed me a better way that I fell in love. The Tamales – chefs Sue Fenniger and Mary Sue Milliken, the co-hosts of their own show on the Food Network once upon a time – sliced the sprouts very thin, then quickly sauteed them. And I do mean quickly – 3 to 5 minutes in the pan and they’re good to go.

Even more impressive than the process is the result – the surprising deliciousness of these shredded sauteed Brussels sprouts. You don’t need a lot of fat to cook them in, and the little guys pair up nicely with all sorts of toasted nuts. I’ve opted for walnuts in this recipe, but swap in your favorite. And a tart little spritz of lemon provides the finishing touch.

Quick Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts and Lemon

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 6

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the walnuts in a pie plate and toast them in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are fragrant and are a shade darker.

Trim the Brussels sprouts and discard any damaged outside leaves. Use a food processor fitted with the thin slicing blade to shred the sprouts.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the sprouts and lemon zest, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. The pan will seem very crowded in the beginning, but the Brussels sprouts will shrink down quickly. Season with salt and pepper, 1 to 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and the walnuts. Serve right away.

Nutrition information per serving: 150 calories; 100 calories from fat (67 percent of total calories); 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 5 g protein; 190 mg sodium.

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