My almost four year old vegetarian grandson Mason loves to come over and help cook just about anything. Involving children with hands on in the process of cooking makes a big difference in what they might consider eating and lets them know where their food comes from. Recently I came home with Brussels sprouts still on the stalk, which he immediately picked up and walked around with, using it as if it were a sword like he does with anything long (video game influence, I think).
When he finally put down the Brussels sword, I sent him for the step stool and we got to work cutting the sprouts off the stalk. I did most of the cutting but at his request, I held his hand with a small knife so he could try cutting some.
We left the smaller sprouts whole and I cut the larger ones in half lengthwise. His job was to wash, drain, and put them in the bowl. I had decided to experiment by blanching or par-boiling half of them in boiling water for two minutes before roasting to see if there was any difference in the final result. When the water boiled, I put half in and when the water came back to a boil, I brought the step stool over to the stove so he could watch the sprouts turn bright green in the course of their 2 minutes boil. Mason was in charge of the timer.
After the two minutes we plunged the sprouts into ice-cold water to cool down then took them out to drain. Moving the step stool back over to the island workstation, I had him toss the remaining raw sprouts in the bowl as I added a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon or so of salt. Next we spread them out on a baking pan. The same process was followed for the drained blanched sprouts.
Both pans went into a preheated 400ºF oven to roast. The blanched sprouts were tender with some caramelization starting at 10 to 15 minutes, depending on their size and maintained more of their green color. The raw sprouts took 5 to 10 minutes longer in the oven to become tender, depending on their size and maintained less color.
As they cooled we started sampling them to see which we liked the best. I liked the result more with the blanched sprouts as they retained more color and didn’t dry out as much in the oven. He loved them all, eating them like candy. When it was time for him to go home, he asked for a bag of roasted Brussels sprouts to take with him. Now that is truly loving your Brussels sprouts!