Learning to love brussels sprouts this winter

by sophie on March 14, 2008 · 40 comments

Post image for Learning to love brussels sprouts this winter

Nobody is more surprised than me by my current emotion (well OK, maybe my Mum will be a bit more surprised than I am if she’s reading this).  I’m upset because …. march is the end of the brussels sprout season!

Sprouts are a fabulous winter source of vitamin C and being so readily available locally meant that this winter just seemed like the time to put previous prejudice aside and give them another try.  I’ve always hated brussels sprouts, but a couple of factors have won me round.  First and foremost, sprouts are just tastier than they used to be – growers have been working hard to come up with sweeter tasting varieties (if you don’t believe me, well then that’s all the more reason to give them another try).  Secondly, the blogosphere has sprouted some amazing recipes over the last couple of winters. If you look closely at the recipes they all have one quality in common; the sprouts are at no time be cooked using water. Therein lies the top tip – if you want to learn to love sprouts in all their glory then you need to start by steering well clear of anything boiled or microwaved.
Heidi’s golden crusted spouts recipe dusted with cheese was the deal clincher for me, after which I have progressed swiftly through cheesy pasta sauces and on to virtually undisguised sprouts in healthy stir fries.  Still to come is the ultimate pinnacle of sprout acceptance, the raw sprout (roll on the first frost of winter 2008).
How I learned to love sprouts
Five recipes to make you love brussels sprouts
Start with Heidi’s golden crusted sprouts and work your way through.  Not a recipe but useful for those who have been willfully avoiding sprouts is Vegan Yum Yum’s article on How to Buy and Prep Brussels Sprouts

My contribution to the sprout lexicon is testament to my new found love of the little chaps; so enamoured have I become that my standby lunch over the winter has been a stir fry of shredded fresh sprouts with chilli, ginger and egg.  Provided that you cook a little extra rice the evening before this dish can be on the table in 10 minutes.

Brussels sprout stiry fry with egg,chilli, ginger and garlicThis recipe is my entry for weekend herb blogging, hosted this week by Kel from Green Olive Tree

Recipe for Brussels sprout stir fry with egg, chilli, ginger and garlic

Add some tofu, quorn, chicken or prawns for a more substantial meal. Easily vegan without the egg.

Serves 1, more as a side dish

A big handful brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced

Two thirds of a cup of brown rice, cooked and cooled

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

A knob of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 tsp olive oil or rapeseed oil (vegetable oil)

1 medium egg, briefly whisked with a fork

Optional: a dash of soy sauce or a few drops of sesame oil

Heat 1 tsp of the olive or rapeseed oil in a deep sided frying pan.  Fry the garlic, chilli and ginger for about one minute.

Add the sprouts and continue cooking on a medium to high heat until the sprouts just being to color.

Add the remaining oil followed by the rice.  Cook unti the rice is thoroughly heated through.

Make a small clearing in the middle of the pan and pour in the egg.  Let the egg sit undisturbed for 30 seconds (it will begin to set) and then stir through the rice and sprouts. Serve as soon as the egg is cooked, adding the sesame oil or soy sauce at the end if using.


Joe March 14, 2008 at 20:34

My partner is not a big fan of these sprouts, but it sounds like this might change his mind!

Joanna March 14, 2008 at 21:27

Great links … you’ve missed out a step on the learning to love BS chart: the place where you start to believe that you’ve always loved sprouts ;)

Kalyn March 15, 2008 at 00:35

Your brussels sprouts with brown rice look just fantastic. I was kind of a slow adopter for brussels sprouts too, but I love them now. Thanks for including my recipe too; that may be my favorite brussels sprouts recipe so far.

Johanna March 15, 2008 at 08:54

I am glad you have discovered brussels sprouts – I only discovered them a few years ago but am now looking forward to them as winter approaches. I love them just microwaved til just done or roasted but they are also great in stir fries and with cointreau!
I also wanted to let you know that I am asking people to make and post about nut roast by 18 April for a one off event I am holding – if you are interested in participating or just finding out a little more about nut roast have a look at my blog at http://gggiraffe.blogspot.com/2008/03/neb-at-nut-roast-invitation.html

Deb March 15, 2008 at 21:13

These are probably one of the cutest and tastiest veggies around. Who can resist those little mini cabbages, although they do not taste like cabbages. I am always looking for a new way to prepare these little gems so thank you for the links! I know this may sound crazy, but I like to steam mine, let them cool a bit, dip them in mustard and pop into mouth!

Babeth March 16, 2008 at 18:28

Great minds think alike ;-) I had the same idea while reading Heidi’s blog:
I also did some quinoa cassolettes and muffins with the Brussels sprouts this winter.
BTW cute blog’s design!

Kevin March 16, 2008 at 20:27

I rarely ate brussels sprouts until this winter when I ate a lot of them.

Jane. March 16, 2008 at 21:40

I love that chart, so funny!
Sprouts are lovely pan-fried with pancetta and chestnuts until crisp and tasty. Mmmm.

Annemarie March 16, 2008 at 21:41

I did have the vague thought that this year would be the one when I learned to love sprouts, but the flesh was weak when it came time to put myself to the test. Your page has been bookmarked, though, and I’ll try it all over again next year.

kathryn March 17, 2008 at 01:17

It’s taken me a while to love sprouts as well. Far too many over-boiled ones when I was young. The turning point for me has been using them in curries. They’re wonderful. And this year I was excited to spot the first ones of the season in my local veg store. Love your spout timeline as well!

Green Olive Tree March 17, 2008 at 11:18

Love the art direction of this site. Awesome photos and graphics! Thanks for your entry in WHB.

JennDZ_The Leftover Queen March 17, 2008 at 16:16

I LOVE brussel sprouts! I am actually going to be posting a recipe VERY soon for another great one to try! :)

Sophie March 17, 2008 at 17:19

Joe – these are all great starting recipes for convincing people that sprouts are lovely really!
Joanna – there’s something in that. My mind is already asking me what all the fuss was about on all of those christmas past
Kalyn – you have some great sprout recipes but the one with the parmesan and pine nuts is particularly good
Johanna – I’ve never made nut roast so I’ll be over to have a look. Sprouts and cointreau -wow! That has to be worth a try. If you check back here can you tell me how you cook them like this or point me to a recipe?
Deb – mustard sounds like a great match!
Hi Babeth – sprout muffins sound very tasty and inventive (slightly sweet tasting veggies definitely seem to be the ones to use for baking)
Kevin – I know what you mean. So many people have started liking sprouts this winter, I’m sure it must be something to do with the sprouts being grown slightly sweeter
Jane – I’ve seen a couple of recipes like this but still haven’t tried them with pancetta and chestnuts. It’s top of my list for next winter!
Hi Annemarie – I’ll try and remember to hold you to that next autumn :-)
Kathryn – oooh, sprout curry! I think I’m nearly ready for that – let me know if you have a recipe!
Hello Kel – thanks for hosting WHB!
Jenn – do let me know when you post your sprout recipe (the more recipes the merrier I think!)

Neen March 17, 2008 at 19:41

This past Thanksgiving, I was able to convert my partner’s sister to the wonderful world of brussel sprouts by halving them and then sauteeing them so that they get a chance to caramelize. The rest of the dish involved dried cranberries and some butter. It was such a hit, that everyone there took home copies of the recipe! It was really a “duh” moment — the key to enjoying brussel sprouts is to make sure that they’re not bitter, since that’s one of the least appreciated flavors on the human palate. Thanks for your great post!

michelle @ TNS March 18, 2008 at 00:07

i wish i could learn to like the little buggers, but i’m still to the far left of the sprout spectrum. my partner loves ’em, and he makes a dish where they’re braised in cream and tossed with walnuts that always looks heavenly – i’m a sucker for any preparation that negates the healthy aspects of a veggie – but i just can’t do it. i trust heidi though, so maybe i should start there.

Ann March 18, 2008 at 00:15

I adore brussels sprouts. Sadly, my dear partner despises them. I wish I thought I could lead him down the raod to acceptance, but I just don’t see it happening. I’m impressed that you’re going for eating them raw– that’s not something I’d do willingly. :-)

kittie March 18, 2008 at 15:14

Yum – I have gradually grown to LOVE brussel sprouts over the last few years… and yes, I am starting to think I have always loved them!
I used them in Thai soup (http://kittensinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2008/01/spicy-pork-and-beef-meatball-soup.html) and they frequently appear in stirfrys and veggie stews…
but my favourite way is definitely the same as Jane – pancetta and chestnuts – mmmmm!

Jessica March 18, 2008 at 21:12

I’ve discovered your blog after clicking on your link from a comment you left on Heidi Swanson’s post about black bean brownies. I was very intrigued because I’ve always had the same concerns about agave nectar as you have, so it was nice to see someone with the same opinion as I’ve only seen it touted as a super sweetener and I’m a bit reticent about using it.
I’m a dietetics student, and my blog is (similar to yours) about real food (which a pinch of nutrition advice thrown in). I’ve been reading through your posts and they’re really thoughtful and great. Your photos are also fantastic! I’ve definitely added your blog to my Google Reader.
I’ve recently started meeting other dietitians that blog, and its very fun! Hopefully there will be more and more of us out there. Beautiful blog!

Jessica March 18, 2008 at 21:16

P.S. I forgot to mention I also just recently discovered my love of Brussels sprouts this winter after trying them thanks to Heidi Swanson’s pan fried version. I now can’t get enough of them! And the fact that delicious recipes for them keep popping up all over the blogosphere is a big help!

Mark March 19, 2008 at 23:23

I too am a closet fan of B-Sprouts, I just have to use plenty of garlic to overpower the ‘skunky’ smell that sometimes comes with cooking them…
Long live the winter-greens.

Coffee and Vanilla March 20, 2008 at 23:25

I love Brussels sprouts!
Especially with breadcrumbs ;)

Mansi March 21, 2008 at 22:44

I haven’t been able to try brussel sprouts yet, and Heidi’s recipe had me a little inspired, but your writeup just urges me to cook them! I am a fellow vegetarian too, and got here from helene’s blog…love your thoughts and ideas:) I’m hosting a Balanced Breakfasts blog event this month, and it’d be really nice if you could participate!

shauna March 22, 2008 at 21:32

Hiya Sophie! Thanks for your comment the other day… I wandered back here and have been devouring your archives ever since :)

Foodeater March 25, 2008 at 19:45

Oh your dish looks amazing! I am so new to the world of brussels sprouts, I would have never even thought they could be prepared that way. I just posted on my blog the other day about my first ever attempted at making some (rather simple) vegan roasted brussels sprouts. I was worried that I would mess them up and that they’d taste awful, but they were great… and have quickly become one of my new favorite snacks! Thanks for the ideas, I will be back for more :)

Nina April 3, 2008 at 06:16

I have a lovely way of preparing Brussel sprouts and my family<who disliked them totally) soon asked for second helpings.
Steam Brussel sprouts until just cooked, not soggy. Drizzle with lemon-infused olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper and some grated parmesan cheese. Delicious.

Chuck April 20, 2008 at 16:50

I have no problem with Brussel sprout it’s my wife and kids that have the problem. Mixing them in with the rice is a good idea so long as they don’t pick around them. Very nice! I gave you a thumbs up.

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