Make a side dish they’ll be talkin’ ‘sprout’

When I was a kid, I knew I didn’t like Brussels sprouts. That’s not to say that I’d ever eaten the vegetable in my entire young life, but I knew I didn’t like them, because any cartoon that featured a character having to eat them basically equated the action with torture.

Oh, what a fool I’d been.

As an adult, I’ve only had Brussels sprouts a few times. Each time I’ve had them, I’ve liked them, but I haven’t used them in my own kitchen much.

According to an article by Christine Gallary, the sprouts get their name from their place of origin in Belgium, where people started growing them in the 16th century. That’s why Brussels has an “s” on the end of it, despite most of us pronouncing it without.

Her argument is that most people overcook Brussels sprouts, which brings out more a sulfuric flavor that’s unpleasant. The trick is to try to keep them somewhere between raw and completely mushy.

With that in mind, the recipe I tried not only achieves that nice middle ground of a cooked sprout, but there’s cheese involved, so if you’re a bit nervous to try cooking Brussels sprouts, the cheese should give you some confidence.

I got this recipe from the blog “SkinnyTaste.” Considering the amount of cheese in this, I don’t think there’s anything particularly “skinny” about it, though. I did substitute several items in the original recipe. Specifically, I used Swiss cheese for the gruyere it called for, because gruyere is definitely more of a high-priced cheese, and I decided to use garlic instead of shallots in the sauce. You can find the original recipe at www.skinnytaste.com/brussels-sprouds-gratin/.

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Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin

Ingredients

1 pound Brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil or olive oil cooking spray

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon onion powder

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

2-4 teaspoons flour

3/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon basil

1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

2 ounces grated Swiss cheese, divided

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare a small rectangular baking dish or an 8-by-8-inch baking dish by coating it with olive oil.

Add the halved Brussels sprouts, lightly coat them with a bit more oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Stir them around to coat them a little and evenly distribute them in the dish.

Bake in the lower part of the oven for 15 minutes, stir them, and then for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion powder and garlic and let cook until the garlic begins to be nicely aromatic. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for a couple of minutes (that cooks the flour-y taste out of it). Add the milk and whisk until all the bits are broken apart and the sauce thickens. Add the oregano, basil, parmesan and half of the Swiss cheese and keep stirring to melt it into a nice consistency.

When the sauce is done, pour it over top of the Brussels sprouts and then sprinkle the rest of the Swiss cheese over the top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the top is browned a little.

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I haven’t delved into my leftovers yet, so I can’t say how these reheat, but I really liked them right out of the oven. I made some simple chicken breasts to go with it, and the Brussels sprouts were really the star of the show. Even Joey, who is pretty basic in the veggies he tends to like, said he liked them.

If my younger self could see me now, she would be a bit confused how I survived my run-in with Brussels sprouts, but I also think I could probably entice her to give them a try. I’ve always been a sucker for cheese.

Lindsey Young is managing editor of The Clarion, the Kansas Publishing Ventures newspaper in Andale. She can be reached at lindseyclarion@gmail.com.