If you grew up in a household where your parents demanded that you finish your vegetables before you could have dessert, chances are good that you stared more than once at platefuls of these mini cabbages with fear and disgust. Brussels sprouts are a vegetable with a bad reputation, deservedly when they're cooked badly — but we’re here to change your mind on the subject.
Brussels sprouts are a true seasonal superfood. They’re rich in a lot of important nutrients, including dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, they're also fairly bitter and gassy-tasting when they're served plain or cooked without imagination. What can you do to make them actually worth eating?
The answer is fairly simple. By experimenting with cooking fats, seasonings, and cooking techniques, you can transform this underappreciated vegetable into something so fantastic, you may forget you’re eating Brussels sprouts at all and start thinking that they might just become the next kale.
Raw sprouts offer a blank canvas onto which you can introduce any sort of flavor and texture you want, whether it’s rich and tender or spicy and crispy. Brussels sprouts pair well with rich, autumnal flavors like bacon, blue cheese, and chestnuts. As you roast your Brussels sprouts with big, meaty chunks of bacon or simply sauté them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, you’ll wonder why you ever disliked them in the first place.
Look for smaller Brussels sprouts, as they’ll be less bitter than the larger ones. Whether you fry, braise, bake, sauté, steam, or stir-fry your sprouts, be careful of over-cooking, which creates the sulfurous flavor you hated as a kid.
Admittedly, you may not be reaping all of the health benefits from Brussels sprouts by adding these additional flavorings to them. Fortunately, the goal here is to make them taste better, not to make them better for you. Read on for some of our favorite Brussels sprouts recipes, and try to forgive your parents too much for not having made them this way all along.
Bake Them with Ham and Plenty of Cheese
If the serious amount of cheese in this dish wasn’t enough to reel you in, the addition of ham will certainly get you in the mood. The beauty of a casserole like this is in its simplicity. Once you prepare all of the ingredients, you just have to combine them in a baking dish, bake until the cheese is melted and the Brussels sprouts are tender, and try not to eat the entire thing in one sitting. Click here to see the recipe.
Make Them Spicy
(Credit: Flickr/Mackenzie Kosut)
Cayenne pepper, roasted red pepper flakes, Dijon mustard, and garlic make these Brussels sprouts seriously spicy, so approach them with caution. Be generous with the lemon juice here because it’ll cut the spiciness enough to balance everything out. Click here to see the recipe.