In Season: Brussels Sprouts
Pick up a bunch of these little green beauties on your next trip to the market. Not sure how to cook them? We’ve got simple recipes to get you started, plus some fun facts for Brussels sprout connoisseurs.
Thought to have been cultivated in 16th century Belgium, Brussels sprouts are part of the cabbage family and actually look like mini heads of cabbage. Many rows of sprouts grow on a single two to three foot long stalk. The sprouts are usually ½ to 1 ½-inches in diameter. Smaller sprouts are more tender than larger ones. They have a strong nutty or earthy flavor and can be slightly bitter. Their peak season is from late August through March.
One half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has 28 calories, 2 grams of fiber and is an excellent source of vitamins A and K. They're also packed with numerous other nutrients like vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese and thiamin. Brussels sprouts are also part of the cruciferous vegetable family (AKA cabbage family) which has been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer.
You'll need to clean the sprouts thoroughly to remove the soil that can cling to them. To do so, remove a few outer layers of the sprouts and wash under running water. You can also soak them in vinegar or lemon for about 15 minutes. To cook, cut a shallow “X” on the stem end then boil, steam or roast. They can also be sautéed, but be sure to quarter or shred them first so they cook all the way through.
Brussels sprouts taste delicious cooked with a touch of salt, pepper and olive oil. They also blend nicely with rich meats (like duck or ham), vinaigrettes or Dijon mustard. Serve as a side dish or sauté and add to a salad.
Shopping Tip: Brussels sprouts are sold with the spouts still attached to the stalks or plucked off and ready to be cooked. Choose small, firm sprouts that are tightly closed. Look for bright green color without any yellow or brown spots. Avoid those with tears to the leaves. If sprouts are attached to the stalk, pluck them off and trim any lingering stem before cooking. Store unwashed sprouts off the stalk in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three days.