Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica/ cruciferous vegetable family and therefore kin to broccoli, collard greens, kale and cabbage. With view to appearance, it resembles cabbage and actually looks like miniature heads of the same. They size around 1 inch in diameter, are typically green and sold separately or attached to stems. When cooked, they have a mild flavour, similar to cabbage.
Brussels sprouts are usually cooked whole. To allow the heat to penetrate uniformly, cut an "X" in the bottom of the stem before cooking. They usually take around 7 minutes to cook. Brussels sprouts can be boiled, steamed and even roasted. Whatever method is used, ensure that they are not over cooked. Overcooking releases a sulphuric smell which is disliked by many.
How to select
Choose firm sprouts that are green in colour, free from yellow or wilted leaves and a soft texture. They are usually sold in food stores chilled since they turn yellow at room temperature. Choose small sprouts with unblemished leaves, even in size which will ensure uniform cooking when all are cooked together.
· Brussels sprouts can be boiled, steamed or roasted. To oven-roast Brussels sprouts, simply each sprout in half and place in a oven proof bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, toss well and roast at 220° C for about 15-20 minutes, until well brown and tender. Ensure that you turn the sprouts once halfway through roasting. Serve warm as an accompaniment to main courses like braised meats etc.
· They are usually served as a side dish, but when steamed they can be added in chilled salads served with dressings of your choice. A thin mayonnaise base dressing will go very well with Brussels sprouts.
· To make a nice healthy stir fry, try tossing quartered Brussels sprouts in olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a healthy snack.
· Toss steamed Brussels sprouts with sliced walnuts, red onions and a mild cheese like feta or brie for a crunchy side dish which can be had as a snack.
How to store
Once you purchase the sprouts, remove wilted leaves, if any. Place in zip lock bags and refrigerate. If placing in containers, cover with cling film and then refrigerate. They can be kept for 7 to 10 days. If you want to freeze Brussels sprouts, blanch them first for three to five minutes, cool and freeze.
· Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good sources of Vitamin A, B and K.
· They also contain folate, proteins and beta carotene which is an anti oxidant. Anti oxidants help in disarming free radicals.
· They are believed to protect against colon cancer, due to Sinigrin, a compound present in Brussels sprouts.
· Consumption of Brussels sprouts, is known to reduce the risk of a number of cancers, especially lung, colon, breast, ovarian and bladder cancer. Now, research reveals that they provide significant cardiovascular benefits as well.