It's a bit sad that Brussels sprouts are one of the popular vegetables that kids (and adults) love to hate. While these cute cabbage-like sprouts are sometimes seen as vegetables you only eat because they're good for you, in truth, they're quite delicious if cooked and seasoned properly.
Let's bring these little guys into the spotlight and learn more about why they're worth buying and eating!
How Did They Get Their Name?
Brussels sprouts are named after the fact that they were cultivated in Belgium in the 16th century. Knowing this little fact will also help you remember that it's Brussels sprouts, not Brussel sprouts, and it's Brussels sprout even if you're only referring to one sprout. The "B" in Brussels should always be capitalized too.
Why Should We Eat Brussels Sprouts?
Let's face it: Brussels sprouts have always had a bad rap, mainly because they used to be boiled to death, which made them sulfurous and just unpleasant to eat. Undercooking them is just as much of a crime, but if you can find the delicate balance of cooking them until tender but not mushy, or dressing shaved raw Brussels sprouts with a bright dressing, they are truly delicious.
Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables and are high in vitamins A and C. They are also good sources of iron.
Buying and Storing Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are such cool-looking plants — their thick stalks are evenly covered with cute, tiny-little sprouts, each one looking round and perfect, with giant leaves towering at the top. Their season runs from late August through March or so. The best-tasting ones are picked after the first hard frost, since the cold causes the sprouts to produce sugars.
Usually Brussels sprouts are sold already cut off the stalk, but when it's peak season, you can find them still on the stalk. If you are using them soon, buying the loose ones it easiest, but the ones on the stalk will last longer if you're planning to eat them later.
The smaller the Brussels sprout, the more tender and sweet it is (go for larger ones if you want a more cabbage-like flavor). Look for a vibrant green color and whole, intact sprouts without a lot of spots that are nice and firm. Once you get them home, store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three days. While they can be still be eaten after that, they will develop a stronger flavor.
Cooking Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts aren't hard to cook — you just have to cook them enough so they're tender, but don't let them go long enough where they turn to mush. They can also be eaten raw, but it's recommended that you cut each sprout (usually called shaving) crosswise so the leaves separate into thin, lettuce-like pieces.
Roasting Brussels sprouts helps to concentrate their sweetness and brings out a pleasant nuttiness. Brussels sprouts pair well with salty, rich foods like bacon, but also take well to light, acidic things like vinaigrettes and lemon zest since that helps to combat its more vegetal-flavored side.