The Brussels sprout is a cabbage that is grown for its healthy, edible buds. The buds grow on a long thick stalk, and have tighthly packed leaves, like miniature cabbages. They originated around the mediteranean, and sometime between the 5th and 13th century made their way to the Brussels region in current-day Belgium. This is why they are referred to as "Brussels sprouts" in many languages (NL: Brusselse spruiten, spruitkool, spruitjes; F: choux de Bruxelles; S: Brysselkål; D: Brüsseler Sprossen, Brüsseler Kohl, Rosenkohl; I: cavolini di Bruxelles; Afrikaans: Brusselspruit). They are a winter vegetable, and need to be exposed to frost to develop their sweetness. The Netherlands and the United Kingdom each account for about a third of the world's sprout production.
Two Brussels sprout stalks
The sprouts are typically about 2-4 cm (1-1.5 inch) in diameter. There are three official size categories: small (18-23 mm; primarily Belgium, Denmark, Luxemburg, Norway, UK), medium (23-30 mm; Germany, Ireland, Finland, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy) and large (30-41 mm; USA, Sweden, Switzerland). Personally, I prefer the small and medium sized ones.
The taste of Brussels sprouts is actually milder than that of their cousins broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, and plain cabbage. Yet there are people who absolutely dislike them!? This is typically caused by utter incompetence of the cook, who simply overcooks (boils) the sprouts. This makes them soft (yuck!), and they develop a strong flavor and sulfuric odor. Like all vegetables (and pasta), they should still have a "bite" when cooked. Boiling or steaming sprouts to death (as with all vegetables) completely destroys their nutritional value and texture. Don't! A common way to cook them to bring out the flavor without destroying them is roasting.
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Bake time: 25 minutes
- Makes 4 servings
- 750 grams (1 lbs) Brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved lengthwise
- Vegetable oil, e.g., olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Optional: 450 grams (1 lb) fresh mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
- Optional: 100 grams (1/4 lb) lean bacon, diced
- Optional: 100 grams (1/4 lb) grated cheese, e.g., Gruyère
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES
- Large baking sheet or tray, preferably non-stick
- Two spatulas, preferably wooden (to turn over the sprouts on the baking sheet)
- Optional (if serving with mushrooms and/or bacon bits): large frying pan
PREPARATION / DIRECTIONS
- Pre-heat the oven to 190 °C (375 ºF), with circulation fan
- If serving with mushrooms, fry the slices in some vegetable oil over medium heat until dark golden (and somewhat shriveled)
- If serving with bacon bits, fry the bits - no need to add any grease - until browed and crispy
- Spread the halved sprouts over a baking sheet or tray, sprinkle with the vegetable oil, and "massage" to coat the sprouts with the oil
- Alternatively, you can oil & massage the halved sprouts in a separate bowl and then spread them out on the baking sheet
- Sprinkle with some salt and pepper
- Place the baking sheet at the center of the oven and bake/roast for 20 minutes (or until sprouts begin to turn brown), then briefly remove the baking sheet from th eoven, turn over the sprouts with spatulas, and put back into the oven for 5 minutes
- Large sprouts may take 5 minutes longer, both before and after turning the sprouts
- Briefly remove the baking sheet from the oven, push the sprouts closer together, sprinkle them with balsamic vinegar, and put back into the oven.
- If serving with mushrooms, add them now to the sprouts, to re-heat them
- Bake for another 5 minutes
- If serving with grated cheese and/or bacon bits, sprinkle those over the sprouts and bake for another couple of minutes
Baking tray with sprouts cut in haf
Sprinkled with vegetable oil and "massaged"
Baked for about 20 minutes - note the shrinkage!
Balsamic vinegar sprinkled over the hot sprouts
Some grated cheese sprinkled over half the sprouts
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