If the words "Brussels sprouts" conjures up the image of pale green lumpy things that are mushy and smell a little funky – forget it! One experience with overcooked Brussels sprouts can turn off the most seasoned sprout lover (like myself). The smell when overcooked is actually an organic compound that contains sulfur. If you cook to perfection, you won’t run into the smell.
Let's face it: fiber isn't a sexy topic. And Brussels sprouts don't usually inspire loud roars of cheering (perhaps roars of groaning). Per 3.5 ounces of Brussels sprouts, you get 3.8 grams of dietary fiber, which should make your digestive system super happy. They also have more vitamin C than an orange, and are high in vitamins A and K. So let's work on making them a little more appealing.
The keys to preparing Brussels sprouts your family will actually eat are similar to other vegetables:
- Freshness: Purchase fresh sprouts that don’t have wilting outer leaves. The tighter the sprout, the fresher it is. If possible, buy them on the actual stalk and they’ll stay fresher a little longer.
- Cleanliness: Make sure to thoroughly wash the sprouts as they often can get dirt stuck inside the outer leaves. There’s not much more unappetizing than finding dirt in your food.
- Seasoning: Any food that is prepared plain with water isn’t going to be as appetizing as one cooked with spices. Pair Brussels sprouts with aromatic ingredients like garlic, onions, bacon, and even citrus.
- Cook Time: Undercooked sprouts are hard to chew and can be bitter, while overcooked sprouts are bland and have a mushy texture and unpleasant odor. When cooking Brussels sprouts, pay close attention to the cook time. It’s not a vegetable you want to just set and forget.
Need some sprout inspiration? Here are five easy and delicious ways to re-introduce yourself to the wonders of Brussels sprouts:
- Balsamic sautéed: Sautéing thinly chopped Brussels sprouts is really quick and easy, and there’s no guesswork as to when the sprouts are cooked all the way. Heat up a skillet on medium high heat and sauté your chopped sprouts in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. While cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste. Add in fresh chopped or minced garlic. When the Brussels sprouts look just about done, add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to the pan and turn off the heat. Serve and enjoy.
- Garlic Roasted: Garlic roasted Brussels sprouts helped me erase the bad memories of sprouts past. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut Brussels sprouts in half, and toss in just enough olive oil to coat them. Toss in fresh minced garlic and add salt and pepper to taste. Spread into a single layer in a pan or on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown. For me at 425 on convection, it takes about 20 minutes of baking time. Remove and serve hot. If you want to kick up the flavor, consider tossing in some red pepper flakes! Have an air fryer? They're great and get extra crispy if you go that route.
- Citrus Sprouts: Aromatic citrus not only smells wonderful, but it softens the flavor of the Brussels sprouts. Consider trying this Ginger and Lime Brussels Sprouts recipe from Spabettie. If orange is more your style, check out this easy recipe for Blood Orange Brussels Sprouts from Running with Tweezers.
- Better with Bacon: Bacon pairs really well with Brussels sprouts (because really, bacon pairs well with everything). Cook some bacon or pancetta in a large skillet, and then remove when just crisp. Add thinly shredded Brussels sprouts to the pan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chop the bacon you cooked, and when the Brussels sprouts are done, toss the bacon back into them.
- Shredded Salad: It may surprise you, but shredded Brussels sprouts actually have a mild flavor that is great in a cold salad. No worries about cook time in this recipe: try this Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad from The Kitchen is My Playground. It has bacon, sunflower seeds, maple syrup, olive oil, mustard, dried cranberries, and lemon juice!