This vegetable is a member of the cabbage family and, in fact, looks like miniature heads of cabbage. The smaller spouts are more tender. Storing Brussel sprouts too long will produce a strong flavor.

Thought to have been cultivated in 16th-century Belgium, Brussel sprouts are a member of the cabbage family and resemble tiny cabbage heads that grow on a long stalk. They are similar to cabbage in taste, but they are slightly milder in flavor and denser in texture.

They are traditionally served as a side dish at Christmas dinner in Europe, Canada and the United States.

plural: Brussel sprouts

Season: August – March

How to select: Look for bright green sprouts and a tight, compact head. Yellow or wilted leaves are signs of age or mishandling. Old sprouts also have a strong, cabbage-like odor. Select sprouts that are similar in size. This will allow them to cook more evenly. Avoid sprouts that are puffy or soft. Do not wash or trim sprouts before storing them, but yellow or wilted outer leaves may be remove.

How to store: Up to 3 days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. The older they get the stronger their flavor.

How to prepare: Remove any yellow or wilted outer leaves. Trim stem ends. Be careful not to trim stems flush with the bottoms, or the outer leaves will fall off during cooking. Cut a shallow “x” in the base with a small, sharp knife. This will allow the heat to penetrate the solid core so that it cooks as quickly as the leaves.

Matches well with: almonds, apples, bacon, bread crumbs, butter, carrots, cheese, cream, eggs, garlic, grapefruit, ham, hollandaise sauce, lemon, mushrooms, mustard, nutmeg, onions, parsley, pepper, rosemary, thyme, vinegar, walnuts

Substitutions: brussel sprout = broccoli flowerets

Brussel sprouts are high in:

  • Cancer-fighting phytonutrients:  like other Cruciferous veggies, Brussel sprouts contain very concentrated amounts of phytonutrients like glucosinolates and niacin, which help protect the body against cancer.
  • Antioxidants:  Vitamins A, C, and E provide cancer prevention and boost immunity.
  • Vitamin K: Keeps blood clotting normally, protects and increases bone strength, prevents calcification of the arteries.
  • Omega 3 ALAs:  the most basic of omega 3 fatty acids, ALA helps to reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Folate:  Supports circulatory system by promoting cell growth and divistion, and the formation of red blood cells.
  • Fiber:  Improves heart health, lowering cholesterol and promoting digestive health.

Now, for some recipes and cooking tips:

First, don’t overcook your sprouts!  They will get mushy and taste like one of two things: a) totally bland or b) like bitter rotten eggs (with a nasty smell too).  Before cooking them, remove the last little bit of stem from the bottom of the sprout and slice an “X” shape to allow the entire sprout to cook evenly.

Lightly steaming, grilling, or roasting them is a great way to keep from overcooking Brussels sprouts.  Here are some of my favorite (super easy) ways to enjoy them:

  • Roasted with olive oil and white truffle oil
  • Roasted with garlic, onions, rosemary, basil or sage.  Or a combination of all of the above.
  • Grilled and sliced on top of toast with hummus or roasted veggie spread.
  • Scrambled into eggs with kale.
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