Fresh Ideas: Brussels sprouts

I was the kid who always ate her vegetables. More specifically, I was the kid who always ate her Brussels sprouts. I know, I know, such children only exist in commercials with picnicking parents and Hidden Valley Ranch, but in truth, I’ve always loved Brussels sprouts.

They’re green, earthy and taste just right when roasted in simple ingredients like olive oil and salt and pepper, and I always find myself (then and now) peeling off the thin green leaves to see how many are underneath.

Something about this particular minicabbage was great for my childlike wonder around food, allowing me to play and explore while I ate something that was actually quite good for me.

My mother would prepare her Brussels sprouts a variety of ways — roasted in the oven or seared on the stove-top, but always with this combination of light ingredients and a helping of seasonal squash.

Whenever I eat this particular combination of squash and sprouts, I’m taken back to many of my mother’s dinnertime menus and the repeated request that I “stop playing with my food” in front of company even though she always knew I was still planning on eating it.

Brussels sprouts are rarely a staple at my dinner table these days, but I love to serve this particular dish right around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For this version of the dish, I’ve tossed the mixture with toasted pecans for a light holiday crunch, but the pecans may easily be omitted or replaced with hazelnuts or walnuts.

Roast the dish in a simple dressing of olive oil and salt and pepper for a light and elegant take on an often-neglected vegetable in the cabbage family.

Although I can’t promise your kids will dig into this dish the way I would as a child, I have high hopes that the savory combination of good, seasonal roasted vegetables will entice at least one finicky eater.

Helena Brigman is a food writer, photographer and cookbook author. She can be reached with daily recipes at or via email at