Is it unusual to fixate on the shape of a particular food rather than its taste? A case in point for me is Brussels sprouts, because they remind me of miniature cabbage. And for something that looks like a tiny cabbage, the taste is quite potent, even for someone who enjoys raw kale and cabbage, which are in the same family.
Like kale, Brussels sprouts have anti-cancerous qualities because they contain sulforaphane. What is interesting about this chemical is that, similar to a chemical released by onions that makes you cry, it is not released until the cells are damaged (which can be caused by cutting or chewing). As a result, to get the maximum benefit of these vegetables, they should be chopped. Another interesting thing, which you may have noticed about the name of the chemical, is that it contains sulfur, and sulfur-containing compounds can be quite stinky, hence the potent taste and smell of these vegetables. (Thanks to Tony for explaining these nuances to me.)
Studies have been done which found boiling Brussels sprouts made them lose much of their anti-cancerous quality, but not steaming or stir-frying them (nothing has been said with regard to roasting). I found that steaming Brussels sprouts left them still quite strong in their cabbage-ness in terms of taste. I prefer to roast them for several reasons. They retain their firmness on the outside while becoming quite soft in the center, providing a contrasting texture. The flavor of the seasonings is absorbed more readily and together with the char resulting from the roast makes them filling enough for a meal.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Thyme and Garlic
You will need:
1 lb Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Remove any wilted or browned top leaves from the Brussels sprouts, and slice each in half, length-wise. Place in a bowl and toss with olive oil, crushed garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper. Then place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Roast Brussels sprouts until browned and tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a bowl, toss with lemon juice and reseason with salt if needed. Serve and enjoy.