There are some bits of produce that always seem to get a bad rap. Mostly, it's because along the highway of life experience, someone illegally dumped a bad experience in your path. Ignore these bad experiences and give these poor things a second chance:
Soggy, farty, slightly brown: The way most people remember the Brussels sprouts of their youth. Like many vegetables screwed over by nan, these beautiful vegetables have been mistreated for decades. Cooked properly, they're crunchy, nutty and take on other flavours really well. Right now, they're in season, so buy baby sprouts, and try this simple recipe:
2 handfuls of Brussels sprouts (bottoms cut off, unless they're babies)
1 tbs butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp caraway seeds
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Preheat an oven to 220 degrees centigrade.
2. In a saucepan, par boil the sprouts for 30 seconds.
3. Heat butter in an ovenproof pan. Once it starts to melt, add the caraway seeds and garlic.
4. Once the seeds start to smell aromatic, add in the sprouts and stir fry them for 2 minutes.
5. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
The result is crunchy, caramelised outsides, still green and firm on the inside. Nans are not compulsory.
Restaurant tip: Porteno does brilliant Brussels sprouts.
Also called 'Dunny fruit'...mostly because once upon a time, every suburban outhouse and backyard was covered in them, this member of the gourd family fell into the unpopular category for its bland taste and (again) for being overcooked. After a few chef discussions online recently, I reckon they're due for a comeback. Chef Neil Perry recalls his dad's recipe from childhood: Lightly boil them, saute them in heaps of butter and lots of black pepper.
Restaurant tip: Chef Hayden McFarland from Melbourne's Jaques Reymond is doing a fantastic pheasant and choko dish: Pheasant with mild curried chokos, toasted brioche, lemon and mushrooms and a tamarind sauce.
Felix's chef Lauren Murdoch suggests doing them beer battered with aioli, cooked with lots butter, garlic and parsley (and don't we all love beer battered ANYTHING with aioli?).
We really don't eat enough of this very cool podded plant. Popular in African, Indian and the Caribbean. People generally get put off because of the unfamiliar texture, which can be soft and sort of slimy when cooked, and tastes somewhere between an eggplant and asparagus. It's great in soups and stews, for its thickening properties, otherwise, like most vegetables, the less you cook it, the better.