Ingredient of the Week, April 29: Brussels Sprouts
While the origins of Brussels sprouts are unknown, the first mention of them can be traced to the late 16th century. They are thought to be native to Belgium, specifically to a region near its capital, Brussels, after which they are named. They remained a local crop in this area until their use spread across Europe during World War I. Brussels sprouts are now cultivated throughout Europe and the United States.
How to Select and Store
Good quality Brussels sprouts are firm, compact, and vivid green. They should be free of yellowed or wilted leaves and should not be puffy or soft in texture. Avoid those that have perforations in their leaves as this may indicate that they have aphids residing within. If Brussels sprouts are sold individually, choose those of equal size to ensure that they will cook evenly. Brussels sprouts are available year round, but their peak growing period is from autumn until early spring.
Keep unwashed and untrimmed Brussels sprouts in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Stored in a plastic bag, they can be kept for 10 days. If you want to freeze Brussels sprouts, blanch them first for between three to five minutes. They will keep in the freezer for up to one year.
Brussels sprouts are rich in many valuable nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They are a very good source of numerous nutrients including folate, vitamin A, manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B6 and thiamin (vitamin B1) and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, phosphorus, protein, molybdenum, magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin E, calcium, and niacin. In addition to these nutrients, Brussels sprouts contain numerous disease-fighting phytochemicals including sulforaphane, indoles, glucosinolates, isothiocynates, coumarins, dithiolthiones, and phenols.
Tips for Preparing Brussels Sprouts
Before washing Brussels sprouts, remove stems and any yellow or discolored leaves. Wash them well under running water or soak them in a bowl of water to remove any insects that may reside in the inner leaves.
Brussels sprouts are usually cooked whole. To allow the heat to permeate throughout all of the leaves and better ensure an even texture, cut an "X" in the bottom of the stem before cooking.
While Brussels sprouts are usually served as a side dish, they also make a nice addition to cold salads.
The Healthiest Way of Cooking Brussels Sprouts
It is recommend to steam Brussels sprouts for maximum nutrition and flavor. Fill the bottom of a steamer pot with 2 inches of water. While waiting for the water to come to a rapid boil cut Brussels sprouts into quarters or halves. Steam for 5 minutes and toss with Honey Mustard sauce to add extra flavor and nutrition.
Combine quartered or halved cooked Brussels sprouts with sliced red onions, walnuts, and your favorite mild tasting cheese such as a goat cheese or feta.
Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for an exceptionally healthy, delicious side dish or salad.
Overcooking them will render them grey and soft and they develop a strong flavor some dislike.
I had never seen Brussels sprouts on the stalk until recently. I didn't know that was the way the grow. Does your family like Brussels sprouts? Mine didn't until I found wasys to cook them quickly so they don't have a harsh taste.