Brassica bites

11 December 2008

Gary Firestone and Leonard Bjeldanes recommend a serving or more of cruciferous vegetables every day to take advantage of their natural anti-cancer benefits. Firestone's favorite broccoli dish, which he eats nearly every day, is simple; steam a crown of broccoli for about 10 minutes, or until tender, squeeze a lemon over it, and enjoy.

Bjeldanes suggests substituting sliced or shredded raw cabbage for lettuce in salads,and says he likes to eat a dinner salad of salmon, tuna, or chicken over shredded cabbage with a light olive-oil-based dressing, walnuts, raisins, and dried cranberries.

Even if you think you don't like Brussels sprouts, you'll love Firestone's simple recipe (below) for caramelized sprouts, or a more elaborate recipe from Southern California gourmet cook Karen McRoberts.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

1 lb. Brussels sprouts
2 pinches of sugar
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbs. olive oil

Cut Brussels sprouts in half and steam until nearly done. Sauté shallots in olive oil until softened, add sugar and sprouts, and cook until the sprouts are brown and caramelized.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Prosciutto & Lemon Bread Crumbs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

For the Brussels sprouts:

2 lbs. small Brussels sprouts, trimmed
4 Tbs. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper until well-coated. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast 20-25 minutes, checking and rolling them around after 15 minutes. They should be well-browned on all sides.

For the crispy prosciutto bits:

1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto
2 Tbs. olive oil

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, heat olive oil in a small sauté pan. Cut thinly sliced prosciutto into short strips, separate, and drop into hot oil. Fry as though it were bacon and cook until browned. Drain on paper towels. Prosciutto will crisp as it cools.

For lemon bread-crumb topping:

2 slices fresh bread, pulsed in food processor to coarse crumbs
2 Tbs. melted butter or olive oil
Zest of one lemon

Mix the bread crumbs with the melted butter; toss to evenly coat. Spread on a baking sheet in one layer, and bake 5-7 minutes at 375 degrees until light golden-brown. As soon as the crumbs come out of the oven, toss with the lemon zest until evenly mixed. May be made in advance; cool and store in an airtight container.

To serve: Roll the Brussels sprouts (warm or room temperature) in the toasted bread crumbs, then top with crispy prosciutto bits. Alternatively, serve all three components separately for each guest to compose individually.

Note: Prosciutto is very salty, so no need to add additional salt.