For three years in a row I have tried to grow my own brussels sprout ‘rubine’, the beautiful crimson flecked cousin of the common green brussel, and for three years I have failed. Brussels sprouts need care, love and attention right from sowing the seeds in March, through planting out the baby brassicas in early summer (protecting them from our cheeky chickens and the slugs until they are strong enough to stand alone), and then onwards to the first frost for that all important flavour boost. After three years of failure I thought that it was just not meant to be.
My humble thanks and admiration then go to Marks and Spencer for putting in a lot of effort themselves into figuring out how to grow these little beauties so that I could buy them. Apparently it has taken them a few years of practicing too. Happily I can finally chuck out my sprout seeds and stick to the simpler but still exciting stuff like funny coloured courgettes and oddly shaped carrots.
The red sprouts don’t taste particularly different to the usual green varieties but unlike many purple veggies they do keep their colour when you cook them. All brussels sprouts are a great source of Vitamin C for people eating and shopping sustainably through the British Winter and the purple colour of these particular sprouts is because they have a high anthocyanin content, a group of antioxidant molecules with potential anti-cancer properties (that old nutrition advice to eat a rainbow has some pretty sound science behind it).
I was so excited to finally get my hands on these little chaps that I thought this was time to make good the final stage of my brussels sprout acceptance journey from being a long-time sprout hater; eating a raw sprout. Long time readers will know that I was planning to reach this last sprouty frontier way back in 2008, but somehow it never quite happened.
Anyway, if you’ve been holding off trying them raw (like I have), then don’t. There’s nothing scary about them – they just taste like raw cabbage. That raw brassica tang is lovely with the sweet, nutty gruyere cheese and creamy almonds I used in my little salad, and I bet they would make a brilliant winter coleslaw with dried cranberries and a mayo and yogurt dressing. What’s stopping you?
p.s I keep forgetting to tell you that I’ve made Facebook page for Mostly Eating. It’s another way of following the blog (links to all new posts appear on there) but in addition I’ve been posting a small selection of links to other recipes and nutrition articles on there.
Recipe for Ruby red brussels sprout and gruyere salad
Inspired by the brussels sprout and apple salad in the River Cottage Veg Everyday cookbook. I like the mellow lemon flavour of lemon infused oil here but if you prefer to use olive oil with a squeeze of lemon then go easy on the lemon juice.
A handful of brussels sprouts
20g gruyere cheese, peeled into thin shavings
1 tablespoon almonds
A drizzle of lemon olive oil
Peel any rough outer leaves from the sprouts and cut away the hard bottom part of the sprout to give you a flat surface. Place the sprout flat side down and slice as thinly as you can.
Mix the shredded sprouts, gruyere and almonds together and arrange on a pretty plate.
Drizzle with a little lemon olive oil.