It’s the time of year for winter vegetables; parsnips, rutabagas, potatoes, turnips, carrots and of course…..brussels sprouts!
Most people make an icky face when I mention brussels sprouts. The poor little vegetable that looks like a miniature cabbage just doesn’t get enough respect. I can’t figure out why. We love them in season and gobble them up around our house. If you ask my kids, they will tell you it’s their favorite vegetable. The nutty, woodsy flavor is interesting and satisfying. Give ‘em a try sometime.
Brussels sprouts didn’t actually originate in Belgium, but were named after the capital city since the country is the epicenter of world sprout production. Hmmm….maybe one of the reasons I love the sprouts so much is because I have a bit of Belgium (Belgish?) in me.
As a kid, there was always quite a bit of bantering in our family regarding our cultural roots. We had many light hearted argumenst speculating on the preponderance of our Irish vs Belgium vs English inherited personality traits. My Dad was 100% Irish, extremely proud of it and always claimed us kids were 100% Irish too. Of course this was impossible given my Mom’s Belgium and English DNA. Rumor has it my Mom’s grandmother was a young Belgium girl hired as a cook on an English estate, later eloping to America with her English butler from the same estate, living happily ever after on the dairy farm they owned together in the midwest. So, my culinary chops were probably inherited from my Belgium side, along with my love of chocolate and brussels sprouts. (Sorry Dad)
My favorite technique for cooking sprouts is steam and sauté, which by the way is also a great technique for lots of winter vegetables. I cut the core off the end of the brussels sprouts and steam them in a sauté pan in water, olive oil and a little bit of butter. Just when the sprouts turn a bright vibrant green and are almost cooked, the water has magically evaporated and the sprouts begin to sauté in the leftover olive oil and butter. At this point it is time to salt and pepper to taste. If there happens to be a bit of water still left over when the sprouts turn bright green and are cooked to the firmness you desire, just drain the excess water off to get the sauté started. Cooking too long in the water makes for mushy sprouts….ewwww! The sauté step caramelizes the outside of the sprouts and makes them oh-so-wonderful to nibble on.
Another favorite technique is roasting. After cutting the core off the end of the sprouts, toss them in a little olive oil, salt & pepper. Spread the sprouts on a sheet pan. Roast at 400 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. Toss and serve immediately.
I frequently julienne my sprouts and quick sauté them in olive oil and butter. Delish!
I have a fab raw brussels sprouts salad that is to die for, but I will save that for another post. I can’t wait to hear about all your adventures with the sprouts. Enjoy!
1 pound Brussels Sprouts
1-2 TBSP Olive Oil
1/2 to 1 TBSP Butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
Wash the sprouts. With a sharp knife cut the core end off the sprout. Warm the olive oil and butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the sprouts and pour water over them. Cook for about ten minutes until the sprouts turn bright green and taste cooked through. If there is any remaining water in the pan, drain it off. The sprouts will now sauté in the butter and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Sauté over medium heat until caramelized, about 3-5 minutes. Serve immediately.