Brussels sprouts belong to the Brassicaceae family and are of the same species that include cabbage, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi. The leafy green vegetables are grown in cool conditions for their flavoursome edible buds. These buds are typically 2.5–4 cm in diameter and look like miniature cabbages. The Brussels sprouts are said to have originated in Brussels, Belgium where they remain very popular.
Brussels sprouts, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains ‘sulforaphane’, a substance believed to have powerful anti-cancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of the anticancer compounds, steaming, microwaving, and stir frying does not result in significant loss. Sprouts also contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre.
To prepare, remove loose leaves. Wash sprouts in cold water. Trim a small amount off the base of each sprout. For more even cooking make a single cut or a cross in the centre of the stem to aid the penetration of heat.
For a little variety try steamed/boiled sprouts tossed with a little butter, grain mustard and chopped fresh dill or cut them into quarters and add to your favourite stir-frys. A great way to get non-sprout fans to eat them is to sauté some chopped onion and bacon in a heaped tablespoon of butter, add quartered sprouts and a big dash of white wine. Put lid on and steam for 5 minutes. Remove lid, add a dollop of cream and a freshly ground salt and pepper. Make extra as they’ll be coming back for seconds!
In season (approximately): March to October
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