Brussels sprouts have been on the ick list for too long. More than likely, your distaste for them can be traced back to how they were prepared for you when you first had them. Too many parents cook them until they're mush, with a texture that make even the most open-minded of eaters run from the table. On the flip side, if they aren't cooked long enough, they have a bitter edge, which also spoils the first impression and can sideline Brussels sprouts for a lifetime.
But there are a multitude of reasons why it's a smart idea to give Brussels sprouts another chance. Not only do we have 10 recipes that will bring out the best in them, but they are a miracle food that are important for a healthy diet.
The many health benefits of Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, in the same family as cabbage, broccoli, arugula, radishes and other familiar greens. They’ve been cultivated since before 1200 A.D., which is when the first mention of them appears in history. And yet, 800 years later, they are only just starting to get the respect they are due by chefs.
Brussels sprouts contain glucosinolates, one of nature’s best fighters of free-radicals, protecting us from cancer. Our bodies use glucosinolates to make isothiocyanates, which then activate enzyme systems that fight cancer. Research has shown that Brussels sprouts can help prevent breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer and more. They have more glucosinolates than cabbage, kale and even broccoli.
Not only do Brussels sprouts have cancer-fighting properties, but they also have anti-inflammatory properties. This helps your body ward off chronic diseases associated with inflammation — including heart problems — that can occur from environmental toxins, excessive stress, chronic lack of sleep and other factors. A few Brussels sprouts won’t right the wrongs of of a poor diet and not enough exercise, but they can certainly help your body counter some of the effects from unwanted inflammation.
Brussels sprouts are chock full of vitamins C and K. In fact, one cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 240 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K1, and nearly 130 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. And yet you’re only scarfing down 56 calories in that same cup of sprouts! They’re also full of manganese, potassium, choline, B vitamins and there’s even a little protein in them. They also have 4 grams of fiber per 20-calorie serving, which helps regulate your digestive system and reduce cholesterol. Adding even just a single cup of Brussels sprouts to your diet each week can give you many of the wonderful benefits from this superfood.
How to select and store Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk. (Photo: Nick Saltmarsh [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)
Fresh is best! If you can, select Brussels sprouts that are still on the stalk. You can’t miss this in the grocery store — it’s a huge stalk with Brussels sprouts budding all down it. If that’s not available, then look for Brussels sprouts that are firm with bright green leaves. Avoid any that have yellowed leaves, since these are older and will have lost some nutritional value.
Don’t overcook Brussels sprouts
An important point for any recipe is to be sure not to overcook Brussels sprouts. Not only does it ruin their texture and taste, but it can reduce the number of nutrients available to your body.
Recipes that'll make you fall in love with Brussels sprouts
The savory, slightly nutty flavor of Brussels sprouts pairs perfectly with the bright citrus flavor of orange in this recipe from Susie Middleton's "Fast, Fresh & Green" cookbook. While butter is the ingredient of choice to bring the flavors together, you could also use a healthier fat such as olive oil or walnut oil. As is usually the case with Brussels sprouts recipes, the work is in the preparation, and even that is easy. There are only a few simple steps to bring this dish together, making it a perfect side for dinners.
Grapes and walnuts bring the sweet and savory to this comforting and healthy dish. Simply toss the ingredients together and put the casserole dish in the oven, finishing it off with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar when it is done baking. This is a great dish to make on a Monday night so that you can enjoy leftovers for lunch over the next couple days.
Who says you need meat to make kebabs? Brussels sprouts are a hearty and healthful alternative. You just need a little olive oil, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper to flavor up these Brussels sprouts before you toss them on the grill.
Speaking of grilling Brussels sprouts, this recipe is perfect for camping. The same basic ingredients as used for the recipe above are featured here, but instead of kebabs, you wrap the Brussels sprouts in foil to let them steam on the grill. It's an ideal way to get delicious, healthy veggies into your weekend getaway without any added fuss or mess.
While Brussels sprouts are a vegetable that benefits from cooking, that doesn't mean you always have to steam, roast, bake or grill them. Raw is delicious too, if you prepare them right. Just like their cousin the cabbage, they create a perfect slaw when finely shredded and tossed with a delicious dressing. The bite of purple onion brings out the sweetness of the sprouts, while mustard brings in a spicy savory flavor that makes this salad irresistible.
You just can't go wrong with some butter, broth and the flavors of onion and garlic. This basic recipe turns Brussels sprouts into a savory side dish for dinner. Don't forget to add the splash of freshly squeezed lemon to brighten up the dish and bring the flavors into a complex whole.
It seems that for meat lovers, the perfect pairing for Brussels sprouts is some bacon or, for a fancier option, prosciutto. As simple as you could ask for, this recipe calls for just sprouts, prosciutto, a little olive oil and butter and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. And there you have a dish any non-vegetarian can get behind.
For a healthier but equally hearty version of the above recipe, we have a recipe that features sauteed shallots and mushrooms. Two more nutrient-dense ingredients added to your Brussels sprouts makes this a top option for a hearty, filling, savory and super healthy dish. A little bit of white wine added to the saute brings a sweetness and melds all the flavors together. Deeeeelicious!
Some may like sprouts simple, and some like them rich. This recipe is for the latter. Wait, you haven't clicked on it yet? You did read the part where it says "smoked gouda sauce" right??
For anyone who wants a how-to on the basic way to make Brussels sprouts perfectly, to suit anyone's tastes except perhaps the most ardent Brussels sprouts hater (poor them, being left out of the party) and with pretty much zero effort, here is your recipe.