As a kid, I would ask Mom or Dad for a sip of their coffee, and my face would scrunch up at the bitter taste, prompting me to ask, “How can you drink that?” They would tell me I would like it when I grew up. And I did, and do. A lot. But there were other things they told me I would like when I grew up and I didn’t. Really didn’t. Like mushrooms. And olives. It wasn’t until my 30s I stopped shivering at the thought of mushrooms, and eventually ended up embracing their earthy goodness, especially portabellas. It was even later that my palate “matured” to the point where olives are always in my fridge and at times I crave them, particularly Spanish Manzanilla stuffed with pimentos!
But Brussels sprouts didn’t pan out that way. Hated them as a kid; hated them as an adult. And still hated them as a middle-aged adult. Until I had my sister-in-law’s Brussels sprouts. She opened up a whole new Brussels sprouty world to me. Jeannie is a fantastic cook and a master of presentation. Everything she makes is as beautiful as it is delicious. And she often makes a second, vegetarian version of her dishes just for me, even though I’m the only vegetarian at the holiday table. Gravy, stuffing, salad, and on that historic day, Brussels sprouts. One version with bacon, and one with veggie bacon. I wanted to say, “No thank you, I don’t care for them.” But since she went to the trouble of making a vegetarian bowl just for me, how could I not take a little bite? And then other bite, and another—then I found myself asking for seconds! How could it be? That’s when I learned, cooked the right way, Brussels sprouts are divine! Thank you, dear sister-in-law!
I’ve since made Brussels sprouts a number of times, a number of ways, and now look forward to them appearing at the farmers’ market. Last weekend I spotted a beautiful tray, along with the biggest bunch of kale I have ever seen. For this dish, they’re incorporated along with some okra, remaining after making a batch of veggie gumbo, (recipe coming in a future post) into this really delicious meal (add a poached egg on top of each cup when they come out of the oven and you have brunch). I hope, if you’re like I was not so very long ago, you give Brussels sprouts another try—I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Brussels Sprout, Kale, and Okra Tortilla Cups with White Bean Purée
White Bean Purée
1 15oz can of cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained, liquid reserved
1 small potato, cooked (microwaved is fine—peel after cooked), peeled and diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive or grapeseed oil
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 cup sliced okra
1 ½ cup Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
6 kale leaves, tough stems removed, then chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 corn or whole wheat flour tortillas
Sriracha or other hot sauce
Chopped fresh tomato
In blender or food processor, blend beans, potato, garlic, oil, vinegar, parsley, lime juice, crushed red pepper, and salt & pepper. Blend until smooth. If too thick, add some reserved bean liquid, a tablespoon at a time, until smooth and creamy, but not runny. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Set out a 6-cup jumbo muffin or popover pan.
To make the vegetable mixture, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat, add oil. When oil is hot, add shallots and cook a couple minutes, stirring once or twice. Add okra and Brussels sprouts, and flatten to a single layer. Cook, stirring a couple times to ensure even browning, 5-7 minutes until nicely browned. Add kale, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, and salt & pepper, and cook until kale softens, about 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Brush a tortilla lightly with olive or grapeseed oil (you may want to warm tortillas briefly in microwave before brushing with oil to make them more pliable). Fit into muffin cup, overlapping sides to form cup. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Spoon 2 tablespoons white bean puree in each tortilla cup. Spoon Brussels sprout-kale-okra mixture on top, distributing it evenly among all six cups. Bake 20-25 minutes, until tortillas are crisp. Remove cups from muffin pan and plate with some remaining white bean puree and a drizzle of sriracha. Top with tomato and avocado. Makes 6 tortilla cups.