Brussels sprouts, like dogs, are not just for Christmas. I find just one outing a year to be nowhere near enough - far more so, in fact, than I do with turkey, which I feel I would eat more often if it were all that wonderful.
There are many sceptics out there, but I believe they simply haven’t met the right sprout yet. The fact that I grow them means I get to start picking when they’re still young, sweet and nutty following a bit of frost.
The main thing is to ignore tradition and cook them lightly, rather than boiling them to a sulphurous mush. Try them with combinations of bacon, blue cheese, cream and chestnuts or with soy, ginger and chilli before writing them off. They flash-fry, sauté and roast well too, pairing particularly well with nut oils and bacon fat (the flavour combination in this super-quick Brussels recipe is particularly magnificent).
They also make fantastic leftovers. I committed heresy this Burn’s Night by serving sprouts alongside the neeps and tatties because they – and haggis – make such fine bubble and squeak the next day. Come to think of it, I have haggis more than once a year as well.
The plant itself is a handsome brassica, standing tall and straight. Sprouts are produced the length of the stem in a helical arrangement, each tightly folded bud resembling a perfect cabbage in miniature. It is crowned by a whorl of leaves that form a loose head. These tops make excellent winter or spring greens – it’s not uncommon for a food crop to have secondary edible parts. These rarely make into the shops but as a home grower you have the opportunity to make use of every possible bit.
If plants are not staked and earthed up they can rock in the wind and their sprouts may end up blown (loose-leaved), but even then they are perfectly edible. By being canny with varieties and sowing times, the true enthusiast can harvest sprouts from September till March, though that’s probably a bridge too far.
As far as a recipe for using up a glut of sprouts goes, however, I’m reminded of a Zen cookbook I once read. Published in California around 1970, the recipes were remarkably laid-back and unprescriptive, even for that time and place. Half-remembered sample text: ‘chop the beans or not; it doesn’t really matter. Add salt or not; it’s up to you’. Quantities were largely as absent as definite instructions.
If you like your recipes like mathematical formulae, you’ll find the following one equally woolly and irritating but in my defence, the random nature of allotment produce often means that learning to busk it in the kitchen is essential. Appropriately enough, this month’s focus is on soups, and this is how I usually use up the last sprouts, along with their tops.
Brussels sprout and chestnut soup
Brown an onion in butter. Add two or three big handfuls of sliced sprouts and chopped tops. Fry for a bit if you like or simply add stock (vegetable or chicken) straight away. Boil till soft but not to death. Add a couple of heaped dessert spoons of chestnut purée and then liquidise. At this point I like to drop in all the tiny immature sprouts from the top of the stem for a bit of texture (sproûtons, if you will). Simmer for a couple more minutes and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a generous swirl of double cream, drop in some chopped chestnuts (the cooked, vacuum-packed sort) and garnish with finely chopped parsley.
If you don’t have cream, chunks of blue cheese are nice, and if you fancy a meatier version, start by frying smoked lardons, setting them aside to add at the end, and frying everything up in bacon fat rather than butter.
How to Shave Brussels Sprouts
Learn how to shave Brussels sprouts using just a chef&rsquos knife and cutting board! This post includes tips for making perfectly shredded Brussels sprouts without a mandoline or food processor, recommended equipment, and a step-by-step video.
This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my affiliate disclosure.
Shredded Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite ingredients to add to salads in the fall and winter. They&rsquore so delicious and nutritious, and did you know you can make them right in your own kitchen?
Sure, a lot of stores sell shaved Brussels sprouts in the produce section, but it&rsquos usually cheaper to make them yourself. AND it&rsquos SO easy to do so! You don&rsquot even need a mandoline or food processor. These tools can be helpful if you have them, but a trusty chef&rsquos knife and a cutting board work just as well.
Here&rsquos how to shave Brussels sprouts with a knife at home. Be sure to check out the video (<45 seconds) in the recipe card, too!
Brussels sprouts should be firm and appear fresh, with a vivid green color. Avoid sprouts that look yellow, dull, or wilted. While available year round, the peak growing season is fall through early spring.
Keep sprouts in the vegetable crisper drawer in the refrigerator until ready to use. They should stay fresh up to five days if raw and up to three days once cooked. They can be frozen for up to a year—but before freezing, they should be blanched for three to five minutes. Once cool, they can be sealed in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag and stored in the freezer.
How to Cook Brussels Sprouts
When it comes to cooking methods, you have plenty of options.
Our fave? Roasting . Some quality time in the oven lightly caramelizes the sprouts, bringing out their natural sweetness while at the same time making the outer leaves pleasingly crispy. They're also easy to make&ndash&ndashjust use this oven-roasted Brussels sprouts recipe to bake them to perfection.
Want tasty sprouts in just a few minutes? Steaming or boiling is the way to go. Steaming takes just 6 to 8 minutes, while boiled Brussels sprouts will be ready to eat in just 5 minutes. Seasonings and mix-ins added after cooking help infuse your sprouts with more flavor.
Alternatively, go for a slightly richer side dish by sautéing your Brussels sprouts. It's easy: just add halved sprouts, a pat of butter (or a drizzle of olive oil) and your fave seasonings to a skillet, then cook until the sprouts start to brown.
Whichever cooking method you choose, don't overcook your Brussels sprouts. Doing so will zap their natural sweetness, making them unpleasantly mushy and giving them that pungent scent that might remind you of the less-than-gourmet sprouts you ate in childhood. They should be tender enough to eat but still maintain some crispness.
Alternatively, you can serve your sprouts raw. Use a food processor to create shaved Brussels sprouts, which are perfect as the base for a crunchy, flavorful salad &ndash like this shaved Brussels sprouts salad with cranberries and walnuts &ndash or add them to your favorite grain bowls or wraps for extra crunch.
How To Cut Brussels Sprouts in 3 Easy Ways
Learn how to cut Brussels sprouts, and you&rsquoll be equipped to try so many delicious recipes starring the crunchy green veggie. From Brussels sprouts with bacon to sliced sprouts on pizza, or even raw, lemony Brussels sprouts salads, there&rsquos so much you can do with this little cabbage. So let&rsquos get started, shall we?
How to prepare Brussels sprouts
While there&rsquos no right way to prep Brussels sprouts, there are three methods that we use most often for our favorite holiday side dish or easy weeknight meal: Halved, sliced or cut for blanching. For any of these preparations, first trim the sprout by slicing off the stem end and discarding any tough or discolored outer leaves.
To halve Brussels sprouts, cut the trimmed sprout in half lengthwise.
To slice Brussels sprouts, keep the sprout whole, then thinly slice crosswise.
For blanching, cut an "X" in the bottom of the trimmed sprout before adding to simmering water. This helps the sprout cook more evenly, allowing the center to cook at the same rate as the outer layers.
How to cook Brussels sprouts
Halved Brussels sprouts are best tossed with oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes. Be sure to arrange the cut sides of the sprouts down on the baking sheet so they get extra golden brown and crispy. Then, just toss the cooked sprouts with your favorite add-ins (we love Brussels sprouts with pepitas and figs!) for a healthy, hearty side.
Try sliced Brussels sprouts scattered on top of pizza before baking, sautéed and stirred into pasta, or simply enjoyed raw with your favorite vinaigrette. And for those "X" marked sprouts? Add them to a pot of well-salted, simmering water and cook for 7-10 minutes, until just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain the sprouts and toss them with any seasonings you like, such as lemon juice or vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
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Most helpful critical review
Word of advice do NOT omit those small leaves . . . they turn into deliciousness in your mouth. I cut only the big Brussels sprouts in half, but next time ----I will cut them all in half. I tossed them and the fallen leaves into a bowl with liberal oil, liberal sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and placed the halves face down on my cookie sheet. As it’s cooking the small leaves will turn dark and roast first ---don’t be alarmed . . . those will be wonderful. I took them out of the oven when they were done and tasted a small leaf first. That’s why I’m writing this. The concept of roasting is so simple, it’s not really a recipe, but the taste that this vegetable yields . . . it’s at the top of the list of any vegetable I’ve ever had. We’re carb-free/low carb so I served this with a shoulder roast ----one of the best meals hands down since I can remember. Hope this review has helped someone out there decide to try it. Remember ---half all of them face down and toss in those fallen leaves . . . you won’t regret it. Read More
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Or you can make a breakfast hash with shaved Brussels sprouts and half the amount of potatoes. "Their texture will go with the potatoes perfectly, and you'll be getting extra vitamin C and fiber," Michalczyk says.
You can use Brussels sprouts in tacos in place of shredded lettuce. "Or toss with roasted veggies and any type of grain for a seasonal side dish that helps you to get more veggies at any get-together or holiday party," she says.
You can even use sprouts as toppings for pizza. "Brussels sprouts pair really well with cheese and bread, so make them the star of pizza night," says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD. They can also be blended into dips, soups, and smoothies. "Instead of throwing a handful of kale or spinach into a smoothie, try raw shredded Brussels sprouts. If you combine them with sweet fruit, like banana or mango, you won't even know they are in there," says Rizzo.
Interested in playing around with this fun veggie? Here are 12 Brussels sprouts recipes to get you started.
Balsamic Vinegar Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Balsamic vinegar plays up the sweetness of roasted, slightly caramelized Brussels sprouts in this guaranteed crowd-pleaser. This vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free recipe tones down the sprouts' characteristic bitterness. Make a big batch of balsamic vinegar roasted Brussels sprouts for a dinner party or Thanksgiving and watch your guests clean their plates.
How to Shred Brussels Sprouts
Shaved Brussels are a great base for a salad, stir-fry or any veggie side. And they&rsquore so versatile: You can eat them raw just like kale and lettuce or cook them in any way, from roasting to baking to sautéing. Because they&rsquore thinner than halved sprouts, they get soft and evenly flavored when cooked or dressed without their tough cores. The easiest way to shred Brussels (besides buying them pre-shaved, of course) is in a food processor with a slicing or shredding attachment. But that doesn&rsquot mean you&rsquore out of luck if you don&rsquot have one.
Want to be as hands-off as possible? Use a blender. A mandoline also shreds halved sprouts like a charm, as does a sturdy cheese grater in a pinch. But slicing them up by hand is also pretty low-lift if you know how to do it efficiently.
Here&rsquos how to shred Brussels sprouts without any fancy tools&mdashall you need is a knife. Just be sure to wash the sprouts before cutting them and rub off any surface dirt that you see. You can also give the shredded sprouts another rinse once you&rsquore finished to make sure they&rsquore clean.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasting is one of the best ways to bring out the delicious nutty flavors in Brussels sprouts&mdashplus it's SO easy. Toss them with olive oil, spread them on a sheet tray, and let them hang out in the oven for a half an hour. The best part? The crispy edges. Below are some general guidelines to ensure your Brussels crisp up and don't steam.
Don't line your sheet tray.
Parchment paper is great for baked goods like cookies and brownies, but not needed for roasting. Veggies have a much better chance of crisping up when placed directly on a metal baking sheet.
Don't overcrowd your pan.
As your sprouts cook they will release a bit of moisture. If all of them are crowded in a small pan, that moisture will begin to steam the Brussels, resulting in mushy sprouts.
Keep the heat high.
Want deep caramelization in a short amount of time? High heat is the way to go. Roasting at a lower heat will eventually give you some golden veggies, but we prefer hot and fast because it leaves the sprouts with a little bit of crunch. Al dente Brussels sprouts, if you will.
Keep 'em cut side down.
As with any roasted veggie, we want as much surface area to be touching the baking sheet as possible. After you've dumped all your oiled-up sprouts onto your baking sheet, give it a shake to allow the sprouts to rest cut-side down. We even like to go through and flip the last stragglers. It'll be worth it in the end.
Don't mess with them.
Those cut sides will take awhile to caramelize, so give 'em a chance! If you're stirring your veg every few minutes, they won't have enough time on any side to get that delicious golden color. Before giving your sprouts a big stir, check the undersides to make sure they're done caramelizing. If you've got the color you're looking for, give them a stir to allow them to get a little color on their rounded sides.
Looking for more ways to prepare Brussels Sprouts? Start with this Cheesy Brussels Sprout Casserole&mdasheven sprout "haters" won't be able to resist.
Have fun with variations.
This is a very basic and simple recipe. with endless opportunities for variations. Feel free to add hearty freshly chopped herbs, like thyme or rosemary. Or, a few smashed cloves of garlic to infuse a super savory flavor. Ground spices, like cumin, coriander, and chile powder, are also great ways to elevate the vegetable side.
Save the leftovers!
Leftovers store well in an airtight container to 3 to 5 days after cooking. And they taste particularly amazing when thrown into a quesadilla, grilled cheese, or skillet of fried rice.
Made them? Let us know how it went in the comment section below!
Editor's Note: This recipe was edited on March 11, 2020.