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.
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:
- Serve as a side dish to your choice of protein such as chicken, pork chops, tofu or tempeh.
- Steam and toss with favorite vinaigrette or other salad dressing.
- Add to soups and stews. Here is a German-inspired Beer Braised Beef Stew with Brussels Sprouts.
- Roast for a wonderful, sweet flavor!
- Here are recipes for Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Crispy Bacon, and Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Chestnuts.
- Add to spaghetti sauce.
- Steam with colorful vegetables like this delicious Steamed Carrots and Brussels Sprouts with Tarragon.
- Roast them with sliced potatoes.
- Steam or sauté and add to a salad. Delicious with peppers and orange sections! Try this Warm Millet Salad with Brussels Sprouts, Creamed Mushrooms and Sage.
- Toss with pasta, rice, quinoa or millet.
- Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Shallots is a perfect festive side dish.
- Steam and toss with olive oil and parmesan cheese.
- Braise them in vegetable stock along with garlic and onions.
Got a recipe for Brussels sprouts you really love? Let me know!