If you’re my friend, or if you follow this blog (or stalk me on social media) you KNOW I hate Brussels Sprouts.
Like hate them.
Like if I had my way it would be illegal to grow them, sell them, serve them at restaurants. You get the idea.
And I can hear your voice as I type this.
“Have you tried them with bacon?! Have you tried them glazed in a reduced balsamic?! Have you tried them roasted with salt and a little EVOO?! Have you [insert a million other suggests I’ve heard you guys tell me here].
Ya’ll I’m not kidding. I detest those veiny green balls of disgusting. I don’t like the texture, the flavor, nor do I like that bulbous feeling against my tongue. Hear me when I shout from the rooftops that I HATE BRUSSELS SPROUTS!
And aside from their overall foulness, I DO have an emotional reason for detesting these beasts.
Way back in once upon a time time I attended a very strict private school. It was 1980-something and I was just a wee 1st or 2nd grader sitting in the cafeteria of this school preparing to eat whatever they had plopped onto my tray that day (we had no choices back then kids; so consider yourself lucky!)
Now something you might not know about me is that I was a complete goody two-shoes growing up. I mean I was terrified, TERRIFIED of doing something wrong. So because of that, I was very shy, and VERY quiet. And what made my fears even WORSE is that fact that this school was lead by a mean, old, crotchety, rottenly rude “principal” named Father B (I’m sure he’s dead and giving Jesus a hard time right about now, but we’ll keep his identity private… in case his family is tuning in).
Father B was STRICT, and I mean STRICT. And back then, hitting kids was still a thing in the schools (specifically whacking them across the hands with rulers and crap!). So when Father B patrolled the lunchroom each day, kids were silent, and they cleaned their plates- no questions (or arguments!)… or else. Recess was right after lunch so if there were any children not following the lunchroom rules that day, they would not be able to go outside and play, and they would most likely have to deal with the big “B”.
Well years later I can clearly see THE lunch that turned my world upside down on that fateful day. There was a grilled cheese sandwich, a bowl of clam chowder (right? no allergies back then!) a pile of steamed, bulbous, wretchedly veiny Brussels sprouts, applesauce cake, a carton of white milk and my retainer wrapped up in a napkin in the corner of the tray. I devoured my grilled cheese, slurped my chowder, inhaled my cake, and washed it all down with the milk. I was thoroughly full at that point, but KNEW I had to so something about the 4 sprouts staring me down from their little boxed section of the plastic lunchroom tray. I had never, and I mean NEVER seen anything so foul in my entire life, but figured that these little green balls from hell weren’t going to prevent me from sliding down the slide today. So I took one and popped the entire thing in my mouth. I bit down and felt the hard, leafy, bulbous texture collapse in between my teeth, and rapidly spit it out onto the table; just as Father B walked by.
The half-chewed green sprout looked as though it had been run over by a truck. I carefully picked it up with two fingers and laid it in the corner of my tray next to my wrapped up retainer. And at that moment, I heard three little words that I will never, ever forget. Three little words that to this day replay in my head anytime I make eye contact with those little green sons of bitches.
Clean. Your. Plate.
I sat there staring up at Father B as he stared back through his thick rimmed black glasses and sheepishly informed him that I didn’t like them, only to have him utter those three horrific words once again, along with a threat that if I didn’t comply, I would not be joining the rest of my class at recess…and possibly even worse.
Now I wish I could say that I embedded a little exaggeration into this tale, but you’ve got to believe me when I say that all of this actually happened, including the fact that I sat and stared at those 3 + 1 half chewed sprouts through recess, reading, math and science lessons that day. And when Father B finally came back to the lunchroom to see me sitting there staring at those same sprouts (now even more limp and cold), he shot me a disgusted and disappointing look, told me to clean off my tray, and sent me back to class for dismissal. I had won the battle that day against both Father B and the sprouts, but to this day, I am still battling the war against those nasty things.
And although I’m now 35, I cannot shake those same feelings from that horrific day from my childhood. I was convinced that Father B knew the devil himself and got those green balls straight from the booth of a farmer’s market in hell. I really, REALLY want to like them. They’re packed with goodness, and it seems as though the rest of the world is on board, and some even go so far as calling them “delicious!” So now as an adult, with a different palette than the one I had 25+ years ago, I have attempted to prepare these things based on all of the suggestions I’ve read about and heard about in recent years, but have managed to unsuccessfully cook these creatures in a way that will A. please my taste-buds and B. wash me of the trauma Father B created in my head.
As I was shopping at Trader Joe’s, I came across a bag in the produce section.
I had been craving a slaw I made based last week while cooking at the Ronald McDonald House, and had already planned to purchase the broccoli slaw to make it, when this caught my eye. Kale? Love it. Broccoli? Yum. Cabbage? Eh, they’re alright when put in a slaw. Brussels Sprouts? Evil beasts, get back! *Whip* Hisssssss!
But I bought the bag. And made the slaw. And you know what? It was delicious. Sure the sprouts were technically hidden and covered with lots of things that I love, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction. I ate something with Brussels Sprouts and LIKED it. Baby steps.
Cruciferous slaw with shrimp and quinoa
1 bag of Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch slaw
12-15 cooked shrimp (peeled with no tails)
1/2 cup nuts (I used walnuts)
1/4 cup craisins
3/4 cup this dressing (make extra in case you like your slaw with more dressing)
*You can purchase coconut aminos at Whole Foods, or sub soy sauce
1 cup cooked quinoa
Combine all ingredients and serve warm or cold!