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Brush Up on Brussels Sprouts

By Alana Sugar, January 9, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar

I was born to vegetable-loving parents.

Growing up in the South, I saw everything from okra to Kentucky Wonder Beans on my plate.

Yet, I’ll never forget that Sunday dinner when my mother served me a very tiny one-inch head of cabbage.

I soon learned it was a Brussels sprout, a cousin and cultivar of wild cabbage and a pretty amazing look-alike if you ask me!

The origin of Brussels sprouts is a little sketchy but they do appear to be mentioned in the late 16th century.

They are likely native to Belgium, specifically near Brussels, and thus their name.

They spread across Europe in the early 20th century where they became a favorite in England. Even today, our British friends consume more Brussels sprouts than any other country in the world. Here in the US we grow them mostly in California and New York.

They’re at their peak from September through mid-February, so now’s the time to brush up on Brussels sprout recipes!

When shopping, look for Brussels sprouts that are small and firm with compact, green heads, no yellowing or browning. If possible, choose similar sizes for more even cooking. If not cooking right away, store in a sealed plastic bag for no more than three or four days.

For a quick meal, simply wash, dry and remove loose leaves.

Mark an X in the stem end to allow for better cooking; steam or sauté for about 10 minutes or until tender. The Brussels sprouts should be bright green and crisp-tender. If they look dull green, they have been cooked too long.

Remember: Brussels sprouts are a rich source of sulfur-containing nutrients that affect both smell and taste. Overcooking can create an off-putting odor, so watch carefully. Brussels sprouts are wonderful baked, roasted, steamed and sautéed. They’re great in soups and stews, with grains, legumes, meats and salads.

Here are some favorite ideas to help you put Brussels sprouts on your table:

Got a recipe for Brussels sprouts you really love? Let me know!

Category: Food & Recipes, Produce




Patrick B. says ...
I get the Roasted Brussel Sprouts @ 'Whole Noms' (aka Whole Foods) all the time. It is like eating butter with a nutty quality. The more blackened the leaves (from roasting), the better...absolutely delicious!
01/09/2012 10:11:14 AM CST
Jennifer says ...
Brussels sprouts are my favorite! Love this recipe for a Roasted Brussels Sprouts pizza - http://www.spotlightonhealthyliving.com/roasted-brussels-sprouts-pizza. It is gluten-free, vegan and a great way to sneak in more vegetables :)
01/09/2012 10:34:11 AM CST
christine says ...
why is it that when I boiled brussel sprout,it taste bitter.
01/09/2012 6:30:08 PM CST
Lorraine Gordon says ...
I just learned of this recipe a couple of weeks ago, and have made it several times already. The Brussels sprouts are thinly sliced, then sauteed on high heat for a couple of minutes only, in butter to which a minced clove of garlic and a handful of pine nuts have been added. Smells and tastes wonderful.
01/09/2012 8:07:49 PM CST
Mary says ...
I just boil Brussel sprouts whole, but cut an X at the stem end. I love fresh Brussel sprouts....frozen ones are just horrible.
01/09/2012 8:18:40 PM CST
Michelle Geiger says ...
I love Brussels Sprouts!! I found a fantastic recipe for a full meal using these wonders! Try this!! Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Total Time 45 minutes Yield Serves 4 Ingredients: 6 ounces bacon (about 7 slices), cut into 3/4-inch pieces Up to 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 large garlic cloves, minced 4 large shallots, cut into thin rounds 1 1/4 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (quartered if large) 1 1/4 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper 12 ounces rigatoni pasta 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves, about 20 leaves Directions: Heat a dry large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon; cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Add enough oil to bacon fat in skillet to total 2 tablespoons. Add garlic, shallots, and sprouts; cook, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Add stock; season with salt and pepper. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed and sprouts are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid; return pasta to pot. Stir in sprouts mixture, reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid, and cheese. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil; add sage and bacon. Toss until combined. Serve with more cheese.
01/11/2012 7:04:20 AM CST
Amily says ...
I love brussels sprouts so many vitamins in it, thank you for your article
01/14/2012 3:45:05 AM CST
Jackie says ...
I just LOVE Brussels sprouts. I eat them as a snack, with my fingers. Instead of popcorn, I watch movies while munching on Brussels sprouts!
01/14/2012 9:54:35 AM CST
Wendy Tuttle says ...
Absolutely LOVE Brussels Sprouts. When my girls were younger they nicknamed them to martian heads. LOL A favorite in my house: cut in half (bottom to top) blanch briefly (Blanching is an easy technique that many cooks use to keep vegetables crisp and tender. By boiling vegetables briefly, chilling them in ice water, then reheating them slowly, blanching preserves texture, color and flavor.) saute in olive oil with fresh minced garlic, and * pepper herbs. *Pepper Herbs Recipe Combine black peppercorn, rose petals, calendula, lavender, and cornflower in a Mortar & Pestle ENJOY
01/14/2012 4:01:21 PM CST
jc says ...
I am trying to find cabbage sprouts in So. CA, more specifically LA. They are one of my top ten vegetables. HELP!!!
01/15/2012 4:36:10 PM CST
jc says ...
I'm willing to grow my own if necessary. HELP!
01/15/2012 4:40:53 PM CST
Dave Beaulieu says ...
I hurts me that my wife hates these little guys, because I love brussel sprouts. Cooked with bacon as you describe above is one of my goto recipes. I put together this quick video to instruct how to clean and prep them, you may find it useful: http://www.noreciperequired.com/technique/how-clean-brussel-sprouts
01/16/2012 11:30:35 AM CST
Jennifer says ...
Just found this last week and I can't wait to make it again! Brussels Sprout Curry 1 bag of Brussels sprouts, ends cut off and sliced in half 1.5 cups of coconut milk 2 tb garam masala (or substitute with curry powder and ginger) 1 tb chili powder 1/2 cup of sliced almonds salt and pepper 2 cups of cooked brown rice 1. Saute your Brussels sprouts in olive oil for 1-2 minutes on high heat. 2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the milk, garam masala, chili powder, salt and pepper 3. When you start to hear the leaves popping, add the milk. Let cook for 8 minutes on medium low heat. 4. Mix in the sliced almonds, and serve over steamed rice.
01/17/2012 10:01:25 AM CST
Beth says ...
I ADORE brussels sprouts! I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't like them - but yet, even some of my vegetariand friends don't. My favorite recipe for them is to slice them in half and sautee them in olive oil, along with sweet onions, garlic, and sun dried tomatoes. YUMMY! :)
01/17/2012 10:53:44 AM CST
janejohnson says ...
@JC Mmm sounds tasty. Since each store does things a little differently, I encourage you to reach out to your community Whole Foods Market directly to see if they've got cabbage sprouts available or even seeds. You can identify the contact information for your store with the link below. www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores
01/17/2012 11:27:21 AM CST
janejohnson says ...
@Christine Sounds like taste preferences to us. I love them with bacon, which is probably not everyone's preferred method of preparation. ;D
01/17/2012 12:59:56 PM CST
Jane says ...
I am a brussel sprout hater....at least I used to be until my friend made me the best RAW Brussel Sprout Salad which offers a much milder flavor and is so healthy: 1. Thinly slice several brussel sprouts - can use a mandolin but be careful of your fingers. 2. Toss with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and fresh ground pepper. 3. Shave fresh parmegiano reggiano over the top! FANTASTC!
01/17/2012 4:17:34 PM CST
Lisa says ...
Cut stem off brussels and cut in half. Place large fry pan over med - low heat. Crush or smash 4-6 cloves of garlic. When pan gets warm add olive oil to cover bottom and garlic. Remove garlic before if begins to brown and place on cutting board and chop when cooled. turn heat to medium. Place Brussels cut side down in olive oil. Place on lid and do not turn or move Brussels around. Check after 10 min or so and only turn Brussels after they have completely browned on the cut side. Add salt, pepper, chopped garlic and cook to desired tenderness. Serve as is or sprinkle with fresh nutmeg and parm cheese if desired.
01/17/2012 4:22:24 PM CST
Kelli Magan says ...
I make them with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and sliced almonds. First I cut them in half, generously sprinkle them with olive oil, squeeze fresh lemon juice on top, sea salt to taste, sprinkle with sliced almonds then throw them in the oven at 375 degrees until they are golden on top. So yummy!!
01/17/2012 5:13:54 PM CST
BEVERLY liepold says ...
Whole Foods brussel sprouts in the prepared food section are the BEST, i eat them right out of the container before getting home, bought them for my family in FLORIDA AND THEY TOO COULD NOT STOP eating them,(use to buy them in NJ), NOW whole foods you are half hour away from me in FLA. BUT YOU ARE WORTH THE DRIVE.
01/17/2012 7:46:14 PM CST
PeaSoup says ...
I adore Brussels Sprouts and have several ways I enjoy them. Sliced and fried with onion, cumin and parsley or lemon, garlic and chilli - either way is fantastic. I also use them in coleslaws in which they are tremendous! Yay for the humble sprout:)
01/29/2012 1:06:57 PM CST