A Guide To Buying And Cooking Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts aren’t exactly a popular vegetable – largely because most people have only tried overcooked, bland, boiled Brussels sprouts. But Brussels sprouts actually have excellent flavor when they’re prepared well; in my family, Brussels sprouts are one of our favorite foods.
Even my toddler loves them. They are one of nature’s healthiest foods. They may lower your cholesterol, help prevent cancer and lower your risk of heart disease.
How to Buy and Store Brussels Sprouts
The best Brussels sprouts are found in farmer’s markets. These fresh vegetables are sweeter and more tender than the tough and bitter Brussels sprouts found in supermarkets. However, most farmer’s markets only have Brussels sprouts from autumn through early spring.
For the sweetest flavor (with nutty overtones), purchase Brussels sprouts when the weather is colder – usually from November through December.
Look for Brussels sprouts that are vivid green, and don’t have yellow or black spots. They should be firm and without small holes in their leaves (which can indicates aphids have taken up residence inside the vegetable). The leaves should also cling to the sprout closely.
Sometimes you can also buy Brussels sprouts still on the stalk. This may mean fresher food, but if the sprouts vary in size, they can be difficult to cook evenly.
Store Brussels sprouts in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for around 10 days.
How to Prepare Brussels Sprouts
Rinse Brussels sprouts in warm water, then cut off the small amount of hard stem still on the vegetable. Peel off the outer leaves, since they are tougher.
Some chefs like to cut an “X” in the bottom of Brussels sprouts (where the stem used to be), saying it makes the vegetable cook more evenly and quickly.
How to Cook Brussels Sprouts
The healthiest way to cook Brussels sprouts is by steaming them until a fork easily penetrates the vegetable. This cooking method ensures the health benefits of the vegetable are kept in tact. It shouldn’t take long.
A Brussels sprout that’s dark green is overcooked. One that’s still bright green is cooked about right.
Another way to prepare Brussels sprouts is to cut them in half and saute them in olive oil. Add some minced garlic, pepper and salt, if desired.
Brussels sprouts are also excellent roasted. Cut them in half and add them to other vegetables when roasting them alone or with meat or poultry.
In all cases, avoid overcooking Brussels sprouts, since this depletes them of flavor and health benefits.
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