Growing up I was exposed to, and learned to love, almost every kind of vegetable, but I often caught wind of food woes from my childhood friends. Mostly the complaints had to do with being forced to eat vegetables -- and in many cases, the culprits were Brussels sprouts. When overcooked, Brussels sprouts become mushy and sulfurous-tasting. When cooked well, however, they can be downright delightful.
Brussels sprouts grow like little buds along long stalks. Usually they are picked off the stalks when harvested, but if you're lucky, you can sometimes find them at farmers markets still attached to the stalks. They are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fiber. Not only that, but they contain phytochemicals such as sulforaphane that are believed to have powerful anti-cancer properties.
Continue reading to learn how to choose and store this seasonal vegetable, as well as ideas and recipes for how to prepare them.
Look for Brussels sprouts that are firm and compact. The ends should be clean and fresh looking. Generally speaking, the smaller the Brussels sprout, the sweeter it will be. Brussels sprouts that are larger than one inch in diameter tend to have that strong and pungent cabbage flavor that is often negatively associated with Brussels sprouts.
Store Brussels sprouts in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer in your refrigerator. Do not wash them until you are ready to use them, as moisture will hasten spoilage.
Raw: Fresh, in-season Brussels sprouts can make a surprisingly delicious raw salad. Try grating them finely using your food processor, and then toss them with toasted hazelnuts, Pecorino cheese and a little lemon juice and olive oil. Click here for the full salad recipe.
Roasted: To create a simple and no-fret Brussels sprout side, halve them, toss them in a little olive oil and roast for 20 minutes at 425 degrees F. Or, for a slightly spruced up version, try this recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts with rosemary and red onions.
Braised: Sauté whole Brussels sprouts and sliced shallots in olive oil until they just start to caramelize on the outside. Add in just enough vegetable or chicken stock to go halfway up the sprouts and braise, covered, about 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in a little butter and fresh herbs.
Sautéed: Sautéing over high heat is one of the best ways to bring out the natural sweetness and nuttiness of Brussels sprouts. For perfectly sautéed Brussels sprouts, parboil them in salted boiling water for just a couple of minutes. Halve them and let them dry before charring them in canola oil over high heat. Or try this recipe for sautéed Brussels sprouts in balsamic reduction:
Serves 4 as a side
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