From Brussels with Love

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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.

 

 

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