Undoubtedly, Brussels sprouts are the most underrated and undervalued vegetables today. Many grocery store managers don’t even bother to offer them in their produce departments. Yet, properly prepared Brussels sprouts can be delicious and healthy.
Although very different in appearance from kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower and broccoli Brussels sprouts belong to the same family (Brassica oleracea).
The plant originated in what is today Pakistan or Afghanistan, and was cultivated for centuries to look the way it does today.
In the 16th century, Brussels sprouts enjoyed enormous popularity in northern Europe, and many English books of the time contain recipes, mostly adopted from Belgian sources.
Today, many varieties exist – jade E, Lunet, Oliver, Silverstar YT and Valiant are prolific and yield anywhere from 1 – 1 ½ kg. Per stalk. Brussels sprouts are rich in folic acid, iron, vitamins A and C. They are fibre rich, calorie poor (six Brussels sprouts contain 60 calories), and rich in antioxidants. Overcooking results in an unpleasant sulphury taste. Grating and adding it to salads is a better way of preventing halitosis.
Making an incision at the bottom of each Brussels sprouts allows penetration of heat and may prevent overcooking. You can slice them, and sauté in butter or olive oil with some salt and pepper.
Always look for firm sprouts with bright green leaves. Store in paper towelling placed in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a fortnight.
Canada produces approximately 1300 tones.
October to November are peak harvest times.
Serve Brussels sprouts with roast beef, game stews, and otherwise with strongly flavoured food.
Brussels sprout and mushroom stew
Yield 4 portions
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large shallots or one small onion, diced
3 anchovy fillets (optional)
250 grams assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
tt freshly ground black pepper
375 ml chicken stock
600 grams Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 sprig fresh thyme or .25 tsp dried thyme
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil. Add shallots or onions and cook for approximately 3 minutes. Add anchovy fillets, mashing them until they disintegrate.
This should take one or two minutes.
Turn up the heat. Add mushrooms, and cook until softened. Add chicken broth and stir to loosen clinging bits at the bottom of the pan. Add Brussels sprouts and thyme and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover pan, and cook until Brussels sprouts are tender. This should take approximately 8 – 10 minutes.