Pest Control Week: Beneficial brassicas + Brussels sprouts frittata

If asked, many people would tell you they try to avoid pesticides in their food – by buying organic produce, growing their own food using non-chemical pest control, or eating meat that was raised on low-or-no-chemical feed. But getting ready to make the whaaaaaa face when I say you should deliberately eat some pesticides.

No, not the kind brewed up by Industrial Chemicorp, LLC. I’m talking about the natural pest-resisting compounds in brassicas, better known as the cabbage and mustard family or as cruciferous vegetables.

Cabbage, broccoli, mustard, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi and other members of the plant genus Brassicaceae are chock full of phytochemicals, notably indoles and isothiocyanates. The plants use them to ward off pests, but it turns out those compounds also help humans ward off some other insidious invaders. Research shows that the indoles and isothiocyanates in brassicas can increase DNA repair, and that people who consume more cruciferous vegetables are at lower risk of developing some cancers.

Brussels sprouts frittata

My own research, however, shows that they are not effective at warding off dachshunds (who stole several of my recently harvested Brussels sprouts right out from under my hand).

The sprouts that survived the Dog-Shaming-worthy onslaught went into a new recipe I worked up for lunch – Brussels sprouts frittata with capers, parsley and parmesan cheese. With a splash of balsamic vinegar on top, it has a taste that is savory, nutty, slightly sweet and a smidge bitter all at once.

The frittata recipe follows, but you should also take a tour through the other beneficial brassicas with this week’s worth of recipes from around Teh Interwebs:

  • Brussels sprout and shallot hash from Epicurious (here)
  • Roasted kohlrabi from AllRecipes (here)
  • Roasted broccoli and garlic soup from Not Eating Out in New York (here)
  • Rigatoni with roasted cauliflower and spicy tomato sauce from Herbavoracious (here)
  • Thyme-roasted root vegetables from Eating The Week (here)
  • Sweet potato sandwich with cabbage slaw from Dorm Room Dinner/Big Girls Small Kitchen (here)
  • Roasted brussels sprouts with cranberry and barley from Cookie + Kate (here)

Brussels sprout frittata

Two servings, approx. 285 calories each

½ red onion, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup Brussels sprouts
½ cup water
4 whole eggs + 1 egg white
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbs capers
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Balsamic vinegar, to taste

Cut the stem ends off the Brussels sprouts and cut them into halves or quarters, so that you have leaves and roughly ½-inch size pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are turning translucent.

Add the Brussels sprouts and a pinch of salt; cook another 3-4 minutes, until the leaf edges are turning brown. Pour in the water and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the water has evaporated.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, mustard and parsley. Grate in some black pepper, then pour the mixture over the onions and Brussels sprouts in the skillet. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes.

Heat the broiler to high. When the frittata is done cooking on the stove, remove it from heat and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Put the pan under the broiler for 3 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cut into four wedges (two per serving). Top with a little balsamic vinegar, if you like.

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