When I was thinking about which vegetable to highlight, as we are leaving the winter season, I thought of the sorely-misunderstood and poorly cooked Brussels sprouts. They are one of my family’s absolute favorite foods – I’m on the third batch in as many weeks - but most folks treat them badly and I wouldn’t like them cooked that way, either!
Brussels sprouts are in the same cruciferous vegetable family as some of the other vegetables I’ve written about: turnip, rutabaga, & kohlrabi. As well as other, more commonly-eaten vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. While a Brussels sprout bud has the many layers like cabbage does, Brussels sprouts buds grow on a stalk and cabbage is a large head that has its own root.
You will usually find Brussels sprouts year-round in the grocery store, but they are most abundant in the winter months - think of those large, fresh stalks you can find during the holidays. Those stalks are cheaper, due to less labor to harvest, and they stay fresher longer. Brussels sprouts, in their present form, were cultivated in Belgium, which is where their name originated from. Brussels is the capital of Belgium, so remember the capital “B” and the “s” in the name when you talk about these delicious vegetables!
What do Brussels sprouts taste like?
How do you cook Brussels sprouts?
Most folks boil them, sliced in half or whole. Because the buds are round (or half-rounds), some sections are over-cooked and other parts are raw. Consider trying a different cooking method next time you prepare Brussels sprouts!
If you do boil or steam your Brussels sprouts, it is vital that you cook them until just bright green. They will continue to cook from residual heat. It’s also important that you slice them the same size so they will cook at the same rate.
You can also roast them to bring out their sweet, nutty flavor. Coat them with oil, salt, and pepper first. Click here for more detailed preparation options.
How nutritious are Brussels sprouts?
Brussels sprouts are low in calories and are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They are also a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin A, folate, manganese and vitamin B6 (1). Studies show that cruciferous vegetables play a key role in cancer-fighting (eaten raw; 2), among other health claims. Click here to read more about their “super food” capabilities.
Below is my family’s favorite recipe. For many years, we ate the Brussels sprouts thinly sliced, by hand or by food processor. Recently, I accidentally chose the wrong slicing disc for the food processor and ended up shredding them like cheese! We are totally in love with this new texture and how quickly they cook. Note: Amounts don’t need to be exact, so use these amounts as a loose guideline. I hope you will give Brussels sprouts another chance.
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cranberries
*Trader Joe’s has an affordable bacon option of “ends and pieces.” Use as much or as little or none of this as you’d like.
This is an original recipe. Click here for a similar recipe, with different cooking methods and slightly different ingredients.
Click here for another delicious-looking recipe. I’m anxious to try it! Leave a comment below if you try it to let me know what you think!
~Nancy Miller, MS, RDN
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!