Spotlight Ingredient: Brussels Sprouts

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.

Buying

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.

Storing

Keep sprouts airtight in the refrigerator, (Ziplock bags work fine) and plan to use within 2-3 days.

Cleaning

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
  1. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat,warm olive oil and add pancetta. Stir often, until pancetta begins to brown and crisp.
  2. 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.
  3. Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the pan, season sprouts with salt and pepper and taste. Sprouts should still be a little crunchy.
  4. Remove from heat, and toss sprouts with butter, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

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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:

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.
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How do you like your Brussels? Steamed, sautéed or skipped entirely?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. We just picked up brussel sprouts at the market this morning and I’ve been thinking of them ever since. This week, I’ll saute them with a little butter (dairy free for us) and bacon.

    Lat fall my daughter picked them out at the farmer’s market because she loved the way they looked on the stalk. My kids didn’t care for them the first time we tried them but I really didn’t do much other than saute in a little olive oil. After a few weeks, we tried them again with margarine and some a pinch of salt – much better. A success! Now, they love them as much as I do.

    Kids, like adults, have their own lil’ tastebuds and we just need to find the right preparation to convince them to try something new. Now I’m working on eggplant!
    Gina’s last post: Better Halloween Candy

  2. Oh my… I love Brussels sprouts. Like more than a human being should like a cruciferous vegetable. My quick way is to just chop them in half, toss with coconut oil or lard (yep, lard), and coarse sea salt and roast them at 425 until nice and crunchy. They’re also great in stir fries that start with bacon and sliced onions and end with a poached egg on top. I also like a recipe in Super Natural Cooking that involves pan-frying them until crispy and topping with parmesan.

    Oh… and I made the pumpkin cheesecake this weekend with stevia instead of sugar and ground almonds as the crust. It was amazing. Since we avoid sugars and too many grains we rarely get dessert, but with company coming I wanted something special. With hand-whipped cream spiked with cinnamon and stevia it was such a treat and loved by all. Thank you!
    Shannon’s last post: On My Heart- The Business of Blogging

  3. I agree with you – the brussels sprout is completely overrated. I think people remember boiled or steamed brussels sprouts and completely write them off without trying different cooking methods. There is so many more ways to cook this lovely veg!

  4. I’ve never had them before. However I almost bought some this weekend to cook with last night’s dinner. I ended up choosing swiss chard (which I’ve also never tried before). Those recipes do make me want to try them though!

  5. Love brussel sprouts the old fashioned way. Boiled till just done with a pat of butter and a dusting of fresh grated nutmeg. Yummmmo! I might give the first recipe a try this week though.

  6. I love brussel sprouts. One of my favorite veggie sides!
    Maria’s last post: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

  7. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) says:

    Apparently I need to try these suckers fresh in order to truly appreciate them ;-). I grew up with the frozen-microwaved sort of brussel sprouts that would make any kid scringe. I’ll be scouting the market for these jewels in the next few weeks.
    Steph (The Cheapskate Cook)’s last post: Leftover Rescues- Easy Fried Rice

  8. Well, my 8yo lives by the motto “It’s better with bacon”, so that’s what I use to entice him to eat brussle sprouts. We eat many a pancetta or bacon infused sprout in the fall and it works great for the kids. I, personally, could go with any of the above recipes though….they all sound so tasty.

  9. YUMMY! The pictures look so good- got to buy some Brussel sprouts
    priest’s wife’s last post: Bill Clinton is Right

  10. Did you use a food processor to shred your brussels? Love B sprouts – thank you for the yummy recipe.
    Courtney’s last post: a holiday with less

  11. We love Brussels sprouts and these tips and recipes look great!

  12. I love brussels sprouts, but haven’t had much luck in getting the rest of the Flecks on board. Thanks for the new recipes – I’ll let you know what they think :-)
    Kara @Simple Kids’s last post: Inspiring Finds- Four Fun and Simple Pumpkin Themed Crafts

  13. Although I haven’t tried the Orangette recipe above (my sister had a bad experience with it), Orangette’s brussels sprout pasta with pine nuts has been a major favorite in my household for years:

    http://orangette.blogspot.com/2007/11/refilled-and-refueled.html

    Okay, so the kids kind of try to eat the pasta without consuming any of the green stuff, but I try to make that a little more challenging by using spinach pasta. My husband and I love it, at least. We just had it on Friday with the b. sprouts we brought home from the CSA!

  14. My favorite vegetable–love the sound of that recipe, Aimee!
    Jamie~Simple Homeschool’s last post: Mozart for Kids- Introducing Classical Music to Young Children

  15. I love Brussels Sprouts. I had a friend tell me once “What woman that hasn’t given birth willing eats Brussels sprouts”. This woman does.

    My parents fed them to me when I was younger covered in melted Velveeta cheese, and that’s how I continue to eat them. But now that I have new these new ideas (that are more healthy) I will have to give them a try. It just happens that I will be picking the ones I grew this weekend!
    Kaytee’s last post: Scenery from Valcour Island

  16. I love what you’ve done with these brussels sprouts!
    alice’s last post: Bacon Mac &amp Cheese with Wisconsin Gruyère

  17. I agree – brussels sprouts are amazing. That recipe with the candied pecans sounds too good to be true. Would be a great Thanksgiving side dish. The slaw you made is one of my favorite ways to prepare B sprouts. Thanks for all the inspiration! xo

  18. I have really fallen in love with sprouts lately. I don’t love them in their original spheres, but I cut the ends off and peel them apart so I have a bunch of teensy leaves. Then I fry them that way (similar to the hash). They carmelize so perfectly, and smell so wonderful! I use them mostly tossed in with pasta. But I’m so inspired by some of these other recipes. I might have to bring the cream braised version to Thanksgiving dinner with my husband’s family.
    Nikki Moore’s last post: my own culinary invention- autumn soup

  19. Hi! Great recipes!
    My grandmother taught me to carve a little cross in the hard back end of the sprout. That way the heat gets in all the way and even the bigger ones get nice and soft while boiling.It turns out everyone in the Netherlands does it that way, so maybe it’s a good tip for you as well!

    Here we usually don’t eat the sprout until we the weather turns cold enough to achieve a little frost in the ground, because that will cause the sprouts to sweeten. That’s usually around the beginning of november.
    I never thought about slicing up the sprouts, but that’s sounds like a great idea, so I will try it (in a couple of weeks ;) )

  20. Mmm those Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Parmesan look delicious! Must make tonight. Love your site!

  21. I love Brussels sprouts in any form, but roasting them (olive oil & sea salt) has had the most success with my family. My favorite local tapas place makes a warm salad with apricots, apples, grapes, sprouts and Serrano ham that is just amazing.
    colleen @ foodietots’s last post: How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Pureé

  22. I lovelovelove using brussels sprouts like this. I make a salad with bacon, apples, onion, and shredded brussels sprouts every fall, and it is always a hit with family and friends. Yum!

  23. Oh my! I love brussels sprouts and this recipe is begging for my attention :)

  24. Ooooooh these recipes look so yummy! We are a huge Brussel Sprout family so I am going to give these a try!
    Paula@Simply Sandwich’s last post: Unchartered Territory

  25. I’ve never had brussels sprouts. I saw a package of them in the store last week and almost bought them. I didn’t because I didn’t know what to do with them! I guess I need to go back and get them after all. Thanks!
    Rachel’s last post: Friday Photo–Play Ball!

  26. Perfect post for me- just bought some and needed some inspiration! Thanks.

  27. I really enjoy eating brussel sprouts, not only because of their unique flavor, but also because they are very nutritious – a superfood!

    Thanks for the recipe ideas!

    Charlot :-)
    Charlot’s last post: Dec 7- Visit Waterfall Villas For A Great Raw Food Retreat!

  28. Brussels sprouts are a new favorite of mine and they are a major hit at my office. I am going to have to try this recipe because I have been looking for new ways to prepare them. They also seem to be a hit for the Thanksgiving dinner table, they were suggested in a couple different preparations on this Thanksgiving feast list > http://www.skinnyscoop.com/list/SkinnyScoop_Staff/the-thanksgiving-feast-whats-your-must-have-dish

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