By Heidi Lewis
As their name would suggest, Brussels sprouts by most accounts probably came from Belgium. These whimsical miniature cabbages parade up their stalk, looking very much like a jester’s scepter.
Brussels sprouts are of the wild cabbage clan (Brassica oleracea), but in order to be tamed, they need to grow across the field from their siblings, cauliflower and broccoli, to prevent cross-pollination. We can thank our agronomist president Thomas Jefferson for the introduction of Brussels sprouts to our country. They sprouted well in 1800s-Louisiana and became a big crop in the South. Chous de Bruxelles are delicious with a Creole treatment of spicy tomato or í la crí¨me. Likewise, the American way with “Big A” American cheese sauce is the favorite of many.
The key to cooking Brussels sprouts and redeeming them from childhood memories of yucky foods is not to overcook them. When overcooked, they’re not only mushy, but they give off a strong sulfur odor. Brussels sprouts have twice the sulfur content of other cabbages, although these sulfur compounds are a good thing. Scientists have found that sulforaphane, a powerful phytonutrient in Brussels sprouts and cabbage clan veggies, aides the body’s detoxification enzymes, helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances more quickly. High in vitamins K and C and fiber, they’re really good for you—and so cute. What’s not to love about Brussels spouts?
Preparation: Re-trim the bottoms and remove any discolored outer leaves. Cook them prudently—steam for around 5 minutes or just until tender (plunging them in ice water stops the cooking and keeps the color). They’re delicious sliced in half and roasted with a little olive oil and salt.
Storage: Will keep for at least one week refrigerated in a plastic bag.