I know what you’re thinking. It’s February, the month of love and romance…and she is writing about Brussels sprouts???? Brussels sprouts????
Before you turn to another article, hang in there with me. By the time you finish this piece, you will have Brussels sprouts as the centerpiece of any romantic dinner…heck, you might even sprinkle the leaves on your bed, rather than rose petals!
This garden plant has an unknown origin. Although related to a wild variety of cabbage, it appears that Brussels sprouts were developed only a couple of centuries ago in northern Europe, near Brussels, hence the name.
Brussels sprouts resemble small cabbages and are found growing densely in the leaf axils of upright stems that can grow as high as 3 feet, with each stem bearing as many as 30-40 little sprouts, which are harvested when they are about an inch in diameter…their most tender.
Okay, now you have all the facts, but why should you consider Brussels sprouts to be a food of love? The nutrients, silly…these little babies, the bane of most of our childhood mealtimes are incredibly nutrient-dense, making you feel big and strong, with great circulation. And we all know what happens when we feel strong and circulation is great.
Rich in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, vitamin B-6, iron, thiamine, magnesium, vitamin A, phosphorus and niacin, Brussels sprouts are also said to have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer. All this in these tiny, little sprouts…
Choose Brussels sprouts that are firm and compact and a lovely shade of green, with no yellowing leaves or brown spots. Unlike other members of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts must be cooked and are often served as a side dish, stewed, roasted or braised. Once cooked, they are lovely thinly sliced in a salad.
Here is my favorite recipe…it is a bit of work, but trust me…a more elegant and delicious side dish is not to be had.
Sauteed Brussels Sprout Leaves
A bit of work, this side dish is worth the effort.
Makes 2-3 servings
Extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thin half moon slices
Generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 carrot, fine matchstick pieces
8-10 Brussels sprouts, leaves removed, left whole, centers thinly sliced*
Dry white wine
Juice of one half fresh lemon
Place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a deep skillet over medium heat. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes and sauté for 5 minutes, until the onions are quite soft and beginning to color. Stir in carrot, a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in sprout leaves, season to taste with salt and add about ½ cup wine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove cover and stir in lemon juice. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.
Cook’s Tip: To remove leaves from Brussels sprouts, tip off the bottom stem and pull leaves gently away from the center. Trim the bottom away as needed to keep pulling away leaves. When you get to the center, slice it thinly.