When the first stalks of brussels sprouts appear at my local market in the fall, I greet them with the same enthusiasm as I do a basket of strawberries in the spring. I can finally bypass the staunch, yet stodgy broccoli and bring home a vibrant green vegetable that I’m excited to cook.
I’ve always loved brussels sprouts, perhaps because my father always took such delight in them whenever we ate them growing up; the British, are, after all, the top consumers of sprouts, and my dad hails from across the pond. Brussels sprout lovers are aptly labeled, lovers, and most can wax poetic over the little green sprouts all the day long.
Brussels sprouts are easy to identify because they look like little mini-cabbages, which just adds to their charm, if you ask me. These cruciferous vegetables are wonderful roasted, shaved, or on their own as a filling, flavorful side dish. They’re in season for another few months, so let’s take a look at a few ways we can enjoy them during their peak.
Look for bright green sprouts that are firm and dense. Choose sprouts of similar size so they cook evenly and go for the smaller heads (about 1 1/4 inches across) as they are usually more tender.
Keep sprouts airtight in the refrigerator, (Ziplock bags work fine) and plan to use within 2-3 days.
Rinse sprouts well under cold water (save that water for your plants!) and allow to drain briefly. With a small, sharp paring knife, trim the ends of the sprouts, and remove a layer of the outer leaves.
Now you’re ready to cook! Here is a favorite dish that highlights this autumn vegetable, plus several more suggestions to inspire you to add brussels sprouts to your menus this week.
Stir-fried Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Parmesan
- 50 g pancetta or bacon, diced
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cup brussels sprouts, roughly chopped or shredded
- 1 lemon, both zest and juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon softened butter
- 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- In a large sauté pan over medium high heat,warm olive oil and add pancetta. Stir often, until pancetta begins to brown and crisp.
- Add shredded sprouts and incorporate into the pancetta and oil, scrapping up any bit on the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until sprouts begin to wilt and turn bright green, about 7-9 minutes.
- Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the pan, season sprouts with salt and pepper and taste. Sprouts should still be a little crunchy.
- Remove from heat, and toss sprouts with butter, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
More Inspiration for Brussels Sprouts
Photo by Julie
I can’t stop gushing over Julie’s Brussels Sprouts with Maple Buttered Pecans over at The Family Kitchen. The recipe is absolutely fantastic and turns this often overlooked vegetable into a sensational side.
Julie’s Thanksgiving Dinner Do-Ahead Tip:
“You can candy the pecans and cook the sprouts in advance, then give them a quick turn in a hot pan to finish them off and warm them through while the turkey is resting. Add the nuts just before serving to keep them crunchy.”
Get the recipe: Brussels Sprouts with Maple Buttered Pecans
Two more promising pairings that I have my eye on:
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pecorino Romano and Walnuts :: Culinate
- Alsa Brussels Sprouts with Apples & Pistachios :: Big Girls, Small Kitchen
And I could not leave out these Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts from Orangette who declares:
“The cream coaxes forth the Brussels sprout’s inherent sweetness and fills the kitchen with a rich, nutty, warming aroma that could make even the toughest of men purr like kittens.”
They’re totally making it onto my next Sunday supper menu.
How do you like your Brussels? Steamed, sautéed or skipped entirely?