Note: "Brussels sprouts are ugly and they smell bad." A strong statement from Times Food Editor Russ Parsons, one you wouldn't expect to find with a top recipe. But that happens only when they're overcooked, as he pointed out in this recipe published in February. When Brussels sprouts are given a little respect, they're darned good. Parsons made a "he-man out of a scorned vegetable." That alone deserves notice, but the recipe stands on its own.

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 15 minutes

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 strips bacon

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Salt

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

* Trim Brussels sprouts, removing any outer leaves that are too dark or are damaged. Trim dried-out base of sprouts and cut an "X" 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in each.

* Steam sprouts over rapidly boiling water just until tender, about 5 minutes, no longer than 7 minutes. Cool and cut into lengthwise quarters. Set aside.

* While sprouts steam, cut bacon into thin strips. Cook in skillet over medium-low heat until crisp. Raise heat to high and add red wine vinegar. Cook until vinegar loses raw smell, about 3 minutes.

* Reduce heat and add sprouts. Heat through, season to taste with salt and 1 to 2 tablespoons additional red wine vinegar if necessary. Add pine nuts, stir and serve.

6 servings. Each serving: 120 calories; 138 mg sodium; 3 mg cholesterol; 5 grams fat; 16 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 2.34 grams fiber.