Sometimes, in its own unique way, life finds a way to get you to eat your vegetables.
Circumstances can sometimes compel people to make positive life changes. Maybe a broken-down car gets you to walk more, and it becomes a habit. In my case, a pair of unused stoves, a sale on fish and classic male competitiveness resulted in a mass vegetable fad that swept the nation er, city er, Facebook.
It all began with a bowl of brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts with mixed vegetables are shown with a favorite meatloaf recipe.
I had never had this particular vegetable before. I'm not adverse to veggies per se, as I am a lover of broccoli, green beans and spinach, but the sprouts had just never been in the dinner rotation. But when Michael Symon makes vegetables, you eat them. He could cook an old boot and it would taste pretty good.
When I had my bowl of brussels sprouts at his restaurant a few months back, I fell in love with those little round, green veggies. I knew this may be a fluke, and when I cooked them they may induce icky-veggie faces. But I vowed to try my hand at them sometime.
Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. My sprout intentions had been forgotten. I was with some male friends, both of whom are amateur foodies with bare cupboards. It's better to appreciate a good meal as long as you don't have to appreciate the dishes afterward, I know, but being able to prepare a nice meal for yourself is a good quality, and helps your foodie cred.
1 pound brussels sprouts
2-3 redskin potatoes
1 cup baby carrots
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off the brown ends of the brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Slice potatoes into wedges. Toss vegetables in a bowl with the olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour them on a cookie sheet, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes until sprouts are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Turn them halfway through. Serve with a sprinkle of salt and / or dipping sauce for the sprouts such as balsamic vinaigrette or hollandaise.
I presented a sort of "Iron Chef" challenge to my one friend, giving him an ingredient - brussels sprouts - and seeing if he could fashion a home-cooked meal around that. At last, we would see if Symon's bowl of brussels magic could be recreated.
When one friend was put to work on creating his dinner menu, the other, of course, had to join in as well. This being Lent, plenty of good fish was on sale. He went and got some nice filets, and some nice asparagus to go with it. That's another veggie that only recently made it into my rotation. I got to try some of the results, and they were fantastic. It only made me more excited to see how the sprouts would turn out.
"Iron Chef" night arrived, and I went to witness the results. My friend did a great job, with brussels sprouts mixed with baby carrots and red potatoes, bacon-wrapped dates and mini-meatloaves making up the menu. Fresh berries and yogurt were for dessert.
Of course, whenever you cook a nice meal, you have to take pictures and put them on Facebook. Other friends saw the nicely roasted sprouts, and feedback was good. The cooking prowess of two boys whose stoves served mostly as a place to shoo their cats off of was pretty impressive.
I finally tried my hand at the sprouts. They were delicious. I knew this was basically idiot-proof, but you can burn down a kitchen all sorts of ways, so I kept a close eye on them as they browned.
I ate them with balsamic vinaigrette for dipping. It was a smidge less magic than Michael Symon's, but hey, that's why he's on TV.
I paired them with meatloaf like my friend did, only because I make really good meatloaf and always like an excuse to do so. It goes with everything.
This is not a recipe that is complicated, precise or even marginally difficult. I liked more the idea of the veggies being contagious, for whatever reason, and how they got all of us to eat a little better. Maybe eating vegetables will be the next big fad. Hopefully they stay in the rotation.