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In Season: Brussels Sprouts

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Written by Sophia Markoulakis   
Monday, 13 December 2010

Brussels Sprouts recipes to try: salad | simple sides | bring on the bacon | decadently dreamy | mains

For more great recipes using in season items check out Sophia's posts on Heirloom Apples, Butternut Squash and Figs 

ImageMost of us have quotes or saying from childhood that are forever embedded in our memory. "Eat your vegetables" is one that has been so overused that savvy 21st-century parents have replaced it with clever tricks and gimmicks to get their kids to eat the healthy stuff on their plate. But back in my day a simple demand usually worked.

While many from my generation would have needed more than a command to stomach Brussels sprouts, not me. I'm Greek and in a Greek household every vegetable gets to swim in a pool of fresh lemon juice and vibrant green olive oil—with such a dressing, even overcooked Brussels sprouts were palatable.

Recently, there's been quite a Brussels sprout renaissance. Everywhere you look these petite nuggets of healthy goodness are making news. Chefs around the country are putting them on their seasonal menus; food magazines are highlighting their deliciousness as a quick-cooking side; and bloggers are convincing readers to take the plunge and give them a try, especially if sourced from local farms.

With growing popularity comes growing demand. Most of us can now find Brussels sprouts available loose in the produce section, as opposed to the pint-size baskets that used to be the norm. But, if you live in an area where they are still sold that way, don't succumb to frozen. If anything, order some online or find a CSA that grows them.

The majority of commercially grown Brussels sprouts come from California, when in season, they are available nationwide. These relatives of cabbage love the cold weather and become sweeter as the temperature dips. When selecting Brussels sprouts, choose ones that are uniform in size and firm when squeezed. If firm, they will also feel a bit heavy in your hand, which is also a sign that they are fresh. As long as they stay dry and cold once you bring them home, they will last in the fridge for up to a week or two.

One of the main reasons I love to prepare Brussels sprouts is that they require virtually no prep work. Rinse them off, trim the ends, halve if necessary and you're done. No lettuce spinner, no checking for bugs, and no peeling. Even shaving them raw for salads only takes a minute of prep and only uses a grater or mandoline—my idea of kitchen heaven.

The days of cooking Brussels sprouts to mush are over-there's absolutely no reason for Brussels sprouts to ever see more than a minute or two blanched in a pot of rigorously boiling salted water. When these sweet sprouts are roasted, broiled, or braised their flavor is heightened even more. The added benefit of less time on the stove is the less chance they will produce a sulfur-like smell and bitter taste. High-heat applications also bring out their nuttiness, which is perfect for all those fall and winter recipes that use hard cheeses like parmesan, toasted nuts like hazelnuts, and sweet dried fruits like cranberries.

The selection of recipes that I've picked runs the gamut from rich and creamy to super simple. The biggest challenge selecting recipes was finding ones that didn't contain bacon, pancetta, or pork belly. I know that everything tastes better with bacon, but Brussels sprouts deserve a little more respect! Then again, if you're convincing someone that Brussels sprouts are worth a try, bring on the bacon.

Recipes to try:

Salads


Brussels Sprout-Leaf Salad

(Giada At Home, Episode: Lunch With Raffy, Season: 2)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:23 am spm said:

Great recipe even if you decide not to blanch the leaves and leave them raw.



Brussels Sprouts, Orange, and Fennel Salad

(Cooking Light, March, 1997)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:25 am spm said:

Great combination of flavors, but halve the sprouts first and cut the steam time in half.



Crunchy Sweet Brussels Sprout Salad

(Cooking For Real, Episode: Thanks-Livin’, Season: 6)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:28 am spm said:

This would be equally delicious without sauteeing the ingredients and simply tossing together.



Warm Brussels Sprout Salad With Caramelized Goat Cheese

(Food & Wine, September, 2008)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:31 am spm said:

There's enough going on here that this could be a main dish salad served for lunch.



Simple sides


Sesame Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts

(Cooking Light, November, 1995)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:34 am spm said:

This is a great side dish for grilled fish or chicken.



Brussels Sprouts With Currants And Pine Nuts

(Cooking Light, November, 2008)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:37 am spm said:

Outstanding holiday vegetable dish that comes together in minutes. Tastes decadent.



Baby Brussels Sprouts With Buttered Pecans

(Gourmet, November, 2006)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:40 am spm said:

Toasted buttery pecans are perfectly paired with the nuttiness of sprouts.


Bring on the bacon


Brussels Sprout Hash With Bacon, Hazelnuts, and Mint

(Coastal Living, November, 2010)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:42 am spm said:

Great combination of flavors. Don't leave out the mint since it enhances the sprout flavor.



Bacon And Brussels Sprout Hash

(Tyler’s Ultimate, Episode: Ultimate Cordon Bleu, Season: 6)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:44 am spm said:

This could almost be a meal in itself. Full of fresh and vibrant flavors and perfect for a cold day.



Panettone Panzanella With Pancetta And Brussels Sprouts

(Bon Appétit, December, 2007)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:49 am spm said:

This is a wow dish that conveniently uses any leftover Challah or Panettone.



Decadently dreamy


Creamed Mushrooms, Onions, and Brussels Sprouts

(Bon Appétit, November, 2003)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:53 am spm said:

With other vegetables, it would be easy to disguise the sprouts in this decadent side dish.





Brussels Sprouts Gratin

(The Essence of Emeril, Episode: Holiday Gathering, Season: 11)

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On December 2, 2010, 11:56 am spm said:

Dare sprout haters with this rich and flavorful side. Consider cutting the quantity of sprouts in half and add a layer of thinly sliced peeled parsnips.



Mains


Asian Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

(Real Simple, November, 2007)

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On December 2, 2010, 12:02 pm spm said:

This is a great weeknight one-skillet meal.





Chicken Saute with Wilted Endive and Brussels Sprouts

(Bon Appétit, April, 2007)

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On December 2, 2010, 12:08 pm spm said:

Great pairing with endive and Brussels sprouts. Don't be afraid to cut the butter in half.





Roasted Pork Loin With Brussels Sprouts, Shallots, Garlic

(Alex’s Day Off, Episode: Dinner With Friends, Season: 1)

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On December 2, 2010, 12:12 pm spm said:

Classic roasted meat dish where the meat and vegetables cook in the same pan. Great for a Sunday meal.





Penne Rigate With Brussels Sprouts And Gorgonzola

(Food & Wine, January, 2010)

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On December 2, 2010, 12:13 pm spm said:

Pasta, gorgonzola, and Brussels sprouts? Yes, I made it last night and it was delicious.



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