Giving the unpopular one a chance

Make a list of the vegetables you hated as a child. For me, that list included… (take a deep breath) mushroom, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, tomato, spinach, spanish onion and brussel sprouts.

Now cross off that list the vegetables you’ve learnt to love. The only ones I don’t love are cucumber and spanish onion. And considering that two years ago I still wouldn’t eat them, the fact that I enjoy both now in some dishes is a fairly big step.

How do your lists compare? I bet brussel sprouts remained on the list.

Brussel sprouts are the stereotypical most-despised vegetable. I get why – our parents and grandparents usually boiled those poor mini-cabbages until they were soggy, bitter, and smelled of sulphur. Then they were served with a ‘meat and three’ meal. What joy.

My years of reading the Stonesoup have taught me many important things about cooking and food. Two of which are relevant to this post. First, if there’s a vegetable you thought you hated, give it a chance – slice it thinly, saute and salt to taste. This has won me over to zucchini, mushrooms, and yes, brussel sprouts. Second, soy sauce is a magic ingredient. A teaspoon or a tablespoon in a dish adds savoury, slightly salty, ‘umami‘ flavour. Often you can’t detect the soy sauce at all, but the overall flavour has been lifted well beyond ordinary.

So here we have it, please try it, even if you thought you hated sprouts. If nothing else, they’re bloody good for you.

To complete dinner, I baked a medium-sized sweet potato and halved it between us, adding a little lime chutney. Ash made the comment that the chutney was nice, but overpowered anything it was paired with. Rightly so. Chutney and sweet potato is delicious. But this meal is about delicate, simple flavours. Next time we’ll save the chutney to balance the equally prominent flavours of a curry. Salt would have been enough for the potato.

Seared sprouts with garlic (serves 2 or 4 as a side dish)


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 500g brussel sprouts (ok, I might be lying, I didn’t weigh them. Eyeball enough for two dinners if you’re not sure), halved and the bottoms slightly trimmed.
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 a bag of baby spinach (two big handfuls or so)


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and sprouts and saute for a minute. Cover for two minutes.
  2. Add the soy sauce and spinach and quickly stir through. Cover for another 2 minutes.
  3. The sprouts should be bright green, browned in parts and the spinach wilted.
  4. Serve.

One thought on “Giving the unpopular one a chance

  1. Pingback: Not Another Thanksgiving Feast: Chickpea-Stuffed Choko | Cat's Kitchen

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