Recently, we decided to take on the 52 New Foods Challenge, which is a way to try new foods, cook together with the family, and have fun while doing so. Created by Crunch a Color’s Jennifer Tyler Lee, the new book, The 52 New Foods Challenge, is about getting the whole family involved and interested in the cooking process and experimenting with different foods.
Last week, we went for a familiar favorite – sweet potato – but paired it with eggs for a different, but delicious meal – Sweet Potato and Spinach Frittata. After all, food doesn’t have to be a stranger to you for it to be considered “new.” Enjoying foods you already know about in different ways is also a fantastic way to eat more of it!
So this week, we are sticking with another favorite of ours – brussels sprouts. We have featured this vegetable as a side in many of our meal plans, and we can’t get enough of them. But there’s no denying that it’s just not a vegetable that everyone loves. Kids or adults, it doesn’t matter. Brussels are not one of the “cool kids.”
It’s quite understandable, since these sprouts have a bitter taste. And no matter how many different recipes we have for making this veggie, we can’t make everyone love them. However, we can always offer new ways of enjoying them. Who knows? Maybe one of our recipes will work for you!
We think that the best way to enjoy brussels sprouts is to roast them. Roasting caramelizes the sugars found in foods, making them sweeter and tastier. This works perfectly for bitter veggies, since it makes them not as bitter.
They’re good as-is when roasted, but since we’ve been working on our How to Maximize Flavor series, we decided to punch up the flavor even more by applying some of our flavoring tips and tricks.
First, we referenced the Flavor Star to see what flavors would balance out the bitterness of brussels. By adding salty / umami, sweet, and sour flavors, we would be able to even out the bitterness for a more enjoyable taste.
Next, we consulted our sauce tips to make this dish stand out. Instead of a finishing sauce, we made a marinade that combined some flavor-balancers – soy sauce for some salty / umami goodness, brown sugar to sweeten up the veggies, and some rice vinegar for a bit of sourness. A simple, great, go-to Asian marinade that is perfect for any dish you wish to have an Asian flair!
Last, but definitely not least, we referenced our Infographic Guide to Flavoring with Fresh Herbs, and tossed the brussels with fresh cilantro. Smart move, because herbs really brighten up a dish and add another flavor dimension altogether!
For the finishing touch, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to add a bit more acidity to this dish and really bring out each flavor component. Crushed peanuts add a nice crunchy texture to this dish, but it’s completely optional.
We just can’t stop popping these Asian-Style Roasted Brussels Sprouts in our mouths, and we think it’s a great way to enjoy this fall / winter vegetable for the 52 New Foods Challenge. It’s okay if this dish ends up not being for you; it’s always great to try it to see if you like it! After all, this challenge is not about being perfect. It’s all about improving what you eat, exploring new and healthy foods, and enjoying the whole process.
And if that means we get to eat more delicious veggie dishes like this one here, then we sure are enjoying this challenge!
Try these other ways of enjoying brussels and let us know which one’s your favorite:
For More Smarts:
Make a little bit more Asian Marinade to marinate tenderized chicken breasts. Cook in a skillet and enjoy with these Asian-Style Roasted Brussels Sprouts for a complete meal. [See it on our menu plan.]
Prep work can fly by once you get the hang of chopping veggies and herbs efficiently. Here’s how:
We love this method of roasting vegetables at high heat – steaming first and then roasting to caramelized, crispy, and tender:
Use an inexpensive and handy whisk to combine your marinade.
- Onions – 1/2, sliced
- Brussels sprouts – 1 lb, trimmed and halved
- Cilantro – 1/4 bunch, chopped
- Lemon – 1/2, juice of
- Peanuts – 1/4 cup, crushed [optional]
- Asian Marinade
- Garlic – 1 cloves, minced or crushed
- Soy sauce – 2 tbsp
- Rice vinegar – 2 tbsp
- Toasted sesame oil – 1 tsp
- Brown sugar – 1 tbsp
- Cooking oil – 1/4 cup
- Onions / Brussels sprouts / Cilantro – Prep as directed. (Can be done up to 4 days ahead)
- Make Asian marinade – Mince or crush garlic. Whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, brown sugar, and cooking oil. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Prep veggies for roasting – Spread onions and brussels sprouts out onto a sheet pan in one layer. Cover tightly with foil.
- Heat oven to 500 degrees. Steam brussels sprouts for ~8 minutes.
- Uncover sheet pan and toss with half of the Asian marinade and roast for 10 to 14 minutes, until outer leaves are golden and crisp. When brussels sprouts are done roasting, toss with remainder of the Asian marinade, lemon juice, and cilantro fresh out of the oven.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with peanuts.