Fall brings to market a slew of cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. I’m lucky to love them all, but that’s not always the case for others. It seems cabbage is cool in salads and slaws, broccoli rocks with cheese sauce, kale is hip among the coolest of foodies, and cauliflower is the new “mashed potato” for the lo-carb crowd, but the bold and brawny beauty of the Brussels sprout has often been overlooked. (Have you seen those gorgeous Brussels sprouts stalks?)
Brussels sprouts reach their peak between September and mid-February, so now’s the time to partake in the bounty of Brussels sprouts. If you’ve shied away from Brussels sprouts in the past, I urge you to keep an open mind and be bold. Give them another try, but bear in mind a couple of things:
- If they are over-cooked or burnt, canned, rotten or otherwise maimed, they are definitely a no-go. But when cooked right, oh my! They are really, really good!
- They can be a bit bitter (as can many cruciferous veggies), and once cooked, they do have that special off-putting “aroma” so common to the crucifer. This comes from sulforaphane, a powerful antioxidant that make these veggies among the healthiest.
Brussels sprouts are right at home in many dishes, including omelets, salads, grain dishes and side dishes. They are complemented by aromatics such as onion, ginger, herbs and garlic. When shopping, purchase small, firm, compact Brussels sprouts. They should be green, not yellow or brown. If possible, choose similar sizes for more even cooking. If you’re not using them right away, store them in a sealed plastic bag for up to four days. Here are tips and recipes to help you enjoy the best of the brawny Brussels sprouts:
- For a quick dish, 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.
- Serve simply as a side dish to proteins such as tofu, tempeh, chicken, pork chops, lamb or beef.
- Lightly steam (remember not to over-cook!), toss with favorite vinaigrette or other salad dressing.
- Roast them with potatoes and other root veggies. Try topping with toasted pecans or other nuts. Enjoy these wonderful roasted recipes: Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Chestnuts, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Crispy Bacon.
- Lightly steam or sauté and add to a leafy green salad. Make it colorful. Add dried cranberries or cherries (a seasonal favorite), or grated carrots or colorful yellow, orange or red bell peppers. Here’s a Warm Millet Salad with Brussels Sprouts, Creamed Mushrooms and Sage.
- Add to spaghetti sauce for pasta dishes.
- Brussels sprouts on a pizza? Why not? Brussels Sprout and Chicken Pizza with Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Cook grains such as millet, quinoa, brown or wild rice. Toss with steamed Brussels sprouts.
- Sauté with olive oil. Add garlic and parmesan cheese.
- Braise in vegetable or chicken stock along with garlic, onion and herbs such as thyme, dill, savory, or marjoram.
- Pair with colorful veggies like this recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Carrots and this recipe for Steamed Carrots and Brussels Sprouts with Tarragon.
- For seasonal flair, try Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Shallots.
- Add to soups, stews and chowders. Try this German-inspired Beer Braised Beef Stew with Brussels Sprouts.
Are you big on Brussels sprouts? Got a favorite recipe? Let me know!