Kitchn Love Letters

The Pre-Prepped Veggie That Miraculously Dug Me Out of a Cooking Rut

updated Feb 1, 2021
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A person standing in front of an open refrigerator inside a kitchen
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

My 2020 (and now 2021) cooking malaise has had one primary victim: vegetables. Regardless of my enthusiasm level, I cook dinner most nights because my family and I have to eat. I’ll admit, though, that I fell into the habit of serving cut-up raw veggies instead of cooking entirely separate side dishes. Let me be honest: I often just throw a bag of baby-cut carrots on the table.

Of course there’s no shame in that game if it’s what gets a vegetable or two into a reluctant kid, but my kids actually like vegetables (even those in the Brassica family). I didn’t want this cooking rut to get us out of the habit of eating a range of deliciously prepared veggies.

Credit: Kate Washington

My cooking salvation was found in the oft-maligned Brussels sprout (of all things). But not just any Brussels sprouts: For an extra-accessible twist, I have turned to bags of shredded sprouts, pre-cut into thin slices, no chopping necessary. This ingredient not only eliminates such fussy prep as trimming the sprouts’ tough stems and pulling off any bruised or discolored leaves, but also practically cuts the cooking time in half, thanks to the separation of feathery leaves and thicker slices.

Credit: Kate Washington

Buy: Good & Gather Shaved Brussels Sprouts, $2.59 for 9 ounces at Target

When these pre-sliced sprouts are roasted or sautéed, you end up with a range of textures, from crispy to soft, and plenty of caramelized flavor. I find bagged shredded Brussels sprouts regularly at Trader Joe’s, mainstream grocery stores, and even Target, which offers a shaved version through their house Good & Gather brand

Roasting is my go-to treatment for these timesavers. I simply crank up the oven to about 425°F, dump a bag or two onto a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil — sometimes dressing them up with chopped preserved lemon, balsamic vinegar, or bacon. This perfect side dish is ready in 15 minutes or less, depending on how caramelized you like them. Sliced sprouts also work beautifully when turned into savory hash, served as a lemony warm salad or slaw, or even drowned in cream. You can also simply steam the Good & Gather version right in the bag, if that’s your style.

Using shredded sprouts as the basis of main dishes — many of them one-pan meals — has reinvigorated my weekly meal plans. We love them in a sheet-pan supper with chicken thighs, green olives, and harissa; in an adaptable pasta; or in a quick braise with beer and precooked bratwurst. Who would have thought that the humble Brussels sprout would get my family eating veggies again and help pull me out of a cooking rut?

Do you buy shaved Brussels sprouts? Slice them up on your own? Either way, how do you use them?