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Your Guide to Cooking and Eating Brussels Sprouts

Lentine Alexis
by Lentine Alexis
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Your Guide to Cooking and Eating Brussels Sprouts

High in fiber, vitamins and minerals and rich in antioxidants, adding these tiny cabbages to your diet reduces cancer risk, decreases inflammation and improves blood sugar control. If you’re striving to fit more green vegetables into your diet, salads aren’t the only answer — enter, Brussels sprouts! Here’s how to make them delicious:

BUYING BRUSSELS SPROUTS

When hunting for the best Brussels sprouts, look for bright green (or deep purple) heads that are firm and heavy for their size. Sometimes you’ll find sprouts still attached to the stalks, other times they’re bagged by the pound. Both are excellent. The leaves of the little heads should be tightly packed and not yellowing (a sign of age), and you want to avoid any black spots which could indicate fungus picked up in transit from the farm to your grocery store. Typically, small Brussels sprouts are sweeter than larger ones, and sprouts grow very well in cooler weather which means they’re in season during the fall and winter months. For the freshest, healthiest sprouts, purchase during times of the year when you feel like roasting. (Because sprouts are delicious that way!)

PREPPING AND COOKING BRUSSELS SPROUTS

There are myriad ways to enjoy these delicate, versatile little green veggies. Whether you’re going to eat them raw, or cook them, be sure to clean and trim them first. You’ll want to wash them in a colander and then trim the base of the stalk. From there, you can cut them in half, which is the most common, or separate the leaves, grate them or cut them into quarters for quicker cooking. Cooked Brussels sprouts are typically easier to digest for most people, but sprouts are also delicious in raw salads. Regardless of how you decide to prepare your Brussels sprouts, you’re in for a treat with these tips, tricks and dishes!

Steam: If you want to enjoy the simple flavor of your Brussels sprouts without added oil, steaming is the way to go. But, over-steamed Brussels sprouts are the product of our worst sprout nightmares (Think: soggy, flavorless little lumps). Delicately steamed sprouts are flavorful, delicious and still packed with nutrients. Steam Brussels sprouts just until they’re tender to the bite (the tip of a knife should pierce them easily, but doing so shouldn’t make the sprout fall apart), but still a lovely shade of green and with a bit of resistance when you bite into them. There are three ways to achieve this kind of steamed Brussels sprout nirvana:

  • In a pan: Bring a scant 1/2-inch salted water to boil in a large frying pan or saute pan. Add the Brussels sprouts, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, cooking until the sprouts are tender to the bite and the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes (depending on how crisp you like your cooked sprouts).
  • In a steamer basket: Bring about an inch of water to a boil in the bottom of a pot. Fit your steamer basket in the pot and place trimmed and cleaned Brussels sprouts in the steamer basket. Cover and steam until tender to the bite, about 5 minutes.
  • In the microwave: Put cleaned and trimmed Brussels sprouts in a large bowl with a scant tablespoon or so of water on the bottom, cover the Brussels sprouts with a microwave-safe lid or plate, and cook on high for 1 minute. Test for doneness and repeat at 30-second intervals until the Brussels sprouts are steamed to your liking.

Roast: Roasted Brussels sprouts are one of winter’s great edible delights, with crispy leaves and tender, flavor-packed little heads all in the same bite. Roasting is one of the most rewarding ways to enjoy Brussels in my opinion. To roast a pound of Brussels sprouts: Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Cut off the stems and any brown ends, mix trimmed Brussels sprouts in a bowl with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and toss with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread on a sheet pan and roast for 35–40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to ensure even browning. Season with more salt and pepper if you wish, then serve immediately.

Sauté: If you’re short on time, sautéing your Brussels sprouts is a great way to quickly maximize their flavor. To sauté a pound of Brussels sprouts: Warm a deep skillet over medium-high heat, then add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add halved Brussels sprouts to the oil, shaking the skillet so that as many as possible land cut side down. Now, don’t touch! Disturbing the skillet at this point would prevent the sprouts from caramelizing and we want that brown color! Cook until they have a nice sear on one side, 5–8 minutes. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, give them a stir and continue to cook until they’re nicely browned all over and just tender on the inside, another 5–8 minutes. Just before removing from the heat, add a flavor booster to the pan, like chopped garlic, sliced onion, thyme sprigs or dried chilies, tossing to coat and cooking only a minute or two. Finish with a squeeze lemon juice, a splash of vinegar or a handful of pickled onions or shallots. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Raw: Brussels sprouts can be enjoyed raw! They’re the most delicate addition to a chopped salad so slice very thinly with a knife or mandolin. Dress your salad with lemon juice and salt, then massage with your hands to wilt the leaves. Enjoy!

And still, there’s more! Once your Brussels sprouts are prepared, there are worlds of ways you could enjoy them in your meals. Here are a few favorites:

  • Serve them warm as a favorite side dish or with other cooked winter veggies.
  • Make them a main event by enjoying roasted or sauteéd Brussels sprouts with white beans, Parmesan cheese and crusty bread or pasta.
  • Spoon them into your favorite grain bowl.
  • Slurp roasted Brussels sprouts in your favorite noodle bowl.
  • Enjoy them in a raw salad!

BRUSSELS SPROUT + KALE SALAD WITH APPLE

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup (65g) almonds
  • 1/4 cup (59ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil
  • 2 small bunches Tuscan kale, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
  • 3/4 pound (75g) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (225g) aged Gouda, grated on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 ounces by weight)
  • 1 crisp apple, such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp, cored and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon togarashi spice mix (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F (180ºC). Place almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast 8–10 minutes, tossing once or twice, until fragrant. Spread out and let cool, then coarsely chop. Set aside.
Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, mustard, shallot, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl, then whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream. Set aside.

Mix together kale and Brussels sprouts in a large mixing bowl. Add about 3/4 of the dressing, and use your hands to massage dressing into the greens. Taste and add more dressing as needed (you may not need all of it). Reserve any leftover dressing for another use.

Add cheese and apple; toss together to combine, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with nuts and serve!

Make-ahead tips: The dressing can be prepared three days in advance; cover and chill. Nuts can be toasted and chopped 1 day ahead; cover and keep at room temperature. Kale and Brussels sprouts can be sliced 1 day ahead placed in an airtight container and chilled. Salad can be tossed together 30 minutes ahead of time and kept at room temperature.

Serves: 8 | Serving Size: 1 cup

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 255; Total Fat: 20g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Monounsaturated Fat: 12g; Cholesterol: 6mg; Sodium: 305mg; Carbohydrate: 14g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 7g

About the Author

Lentine Alexis
Lentine Alexis
Lentine is a curious, classically trained chef and former pro athlete. She uses her bicycle, raw life and travel experiences and organic ingredients to inspire athletes and everyone to explore, connect and expand their human experiences through food. She previously worked as a Chef/Recipe Developer/Content Creator and Culinary Director at Skratch Labs – a sports nutrition company dedicated to making real food alternatives to modern “energy foods.” Today, she writes, cooks, speaks and shares ideas for nourishing sport and life with whole, simple, delicious foods.

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