Brussels sprouts were not my favorite vegetable growing up, something I'm sure many of you can relate to. It turns out that the brussels sprouts I was served as a kid were overcooked, which accounts for the mushy texture and strong smell that I despised. As an adult, I've come to love this once scorned vegetable. Brussels sprouts make an excellent side for a number of dishes, and can be cooked in a variety of delicious ways.
Brussels sprouts are a member of the cabbage family, and if you look at them closely, you'll see that each sprout resembles a small head of cabbage. These vegetables grow on long stalks and, while you may find them on the stalk at farmers markets, they're more often sold as individual sprouts.
How to prepare brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts should be cleaned before you cook them. The leaves of the little cabbages should be tight and in good condition. Peel off any discolored outer leaves and rinse off the sprouts in the sink. If you buy your sprouts on the stalk, simply cut them off at the base. If you buy them loose, you're ready to go!
I generally prefer to cut my sprouts in half, regardless of how I'm going to cook them. While some sprouts are bite-sized, most are a bit too big for a single mouthful, and cutting them down the middle makes them easier to handle.
How to cook brussels sprouts
Here is a handy guide to the three most common cooking methods you can use to cook brussels sprouts. Each of these methods can be used with any quantity of sprouts, so you can use the same guide when making brussels for two, or when entertaining a crowd.
How to roast brussels sprouts
Roasted brussels sprouts are the most popular way of serving sprouts these days and you'll see them on the menus of a wide variety of restaurants. This is my favorite way to serve them and they're easy to make at home.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Toss sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper, then spread in an even layer on the baking sheet.
Roast for about 20 minutes, or until sprouts are deep golden brown.
Sautéing brussels sprouts
Sautéing sprouts is quick and easy, and allows you to build in additional flavors. For instance, you could add diced garlic, onions or even bacon to the pan before adding the sprouts. I find it hard to resist the combination of bacon and brussels — and I know from first hand experience that this is a good option if you're trying to win over those who don't want to eat their vegetables!
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon (or garlic or any additional ingredients), then add in sprouts.
Cook, stirring regularly, until sprouts are tender, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Steaming brussels srpouts
Steamed sprouts may not sound quite as appealing as roasted or sautéed brussels, but they're actually delicious once you have a taste for sprouts. Steamed sprouts can be served as-is or topped with olive oil, melted butter or a sprinkling of cheese — as well as almost any other seasoning you can think up — to give them a more complex flavor. Sprouts prepared this way are a very vibrant green, which makes them an especially attractive side.
On the stovetop
Bring 1" of water to a simmer in the bottom of a large pot. Add in steamer insert and sprouts. Steam for 3-5 minutes, or until sprouts are tender.
In the microwave
Add about 1" of water to a large, microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, or until sprouts are tender. There are microwave steamers out there and if you have one, feel free to use it!
Not sure what to do with your leftover brussels sprouts? Try this brussels sprout salad!