Love ’em or hate ’em, you have to admit, Brussels sprouts are one nutrient loaded veggie. We happen to love them and think of them as an entirely underrated vegetable that can be used in so many different ways. From garnishes and appetizers, to healthy additions to soups and stews, we’ve eaten them in just about every way we can think of! We’ve eaten them locally as an appetizer served warm from a roasting pan with a maple based sauce and Gorgonzola cheese and at home we often roast them with salt, pepper and other root veggies including sweet potatoes. Both preparation styles are delicious!
For those of you who shy away from these sweet, nutty gems, Brussels sprouts are small leafy green buds that resemble miniature cabbages. They come from the family of vegetables that also includes broccoli and kale. Brussels sprouts grow on beautiful large stalks and come in dozens of varieties and sizes ranging from marble-sized button buds to ones as big as golf balls. Popular varieties include ‘Bubbles,’ ‘Prince Marvel,’ and ‘Oliver.’ These tiny green “cabbages” are exceptionally good for you. They are high in fiber and vitamin A, help prevent bone loss and are full of antioxidants. They also contain a fair amount of protein, so your mom was right all those years ago – you really should eat your Brussels sprouts! And we promise, the new recipes that we’re creating make them taste even better than what mom used to make.
First cultivated in Italy, Brussels sprouts reportedly grew in Belgium (hence the name!) as early as the 1200s. They are cool-season vegetables but can be generally found in markets year-round, especially in this country. The sprouts are harvested when the lower buds mature and reach about an inch in size. Fresh sprouts should be firm, compact and dark green in color. Avoid sprouts with loose leaves, which are yellowish and light in hand.
A helpful tip from our kitchen? Don’t overcook the sprouts! Overcooking will turn the buds grayish and somewhat mushy. They will also develop a pungent flavor and can produce a slightly unpleasant odor that some people associate with the vegetable. This won’t happen if they are cooked until they are just tender.
If you need to taste it to believe it, try one of our recipes for these tasty sprouts below. The first is one of our founder’s (Jim’s) favorite – an easy and incredibly tasty side dish that is “company worthy” and makes a beautiful presentation.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Balsamic Glaze
- 1¼ pounds medium-sized Brussels sprouts
- 1 teaspoon Stonewall Kitchen California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces thick-cut pancetta, cut into ½-inch slices
- 1 Tablespoon Stonewall Kitchen Aged Balsamic Vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Trim the ends of the sprouts and peel off the loose outer layer of leaves. Toss the sprouts in a bowl with the oil and salt and pepper. Place the sprouts in a large roasting pan.
- Sprinkle the pancetta over the sprouts and bake for 15 minutes. Stir them about halfway through roasting.
- Pour the vinegar over the sprouts and continue cooking for another 10-12 minutes until the sprouts are brown and tender and the pancetta is cooked.
Check out these recipes for more tasty ways to use Brussels sprouts at home!