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A versatile winter vegetable

Brussels sprouts are in season in winter. With their fine, slightly nutty flavour, they’re a gift for the adventurous cook. Steamed and then braised in nutmeg-flavoured butter, they make a delicious side dish for venison and poultry. Grilled bacon, apple cubes or toasted almond flakes can all be used to add to the flavour. Brussels sprouts have a definite enough flavour to be used in quiches, with pasta and in combination with other vegetables – they combine well with carrots, kohlrabi, mushrooms of all types, beans and sweet chestnuts. Or shred them to make a salad with walnuts, cranberries and pecorino.

Brussels sprouts are highly nutritious

Brussels sprouts have a higher fat, protein and sugar content than many vegetables and they also provide a lot of dietary fibre, folic acid and vitamins C, K and B1 (thiamine), magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.

 

Buying, storing and quality

The first record of brussels sprouts being grown is in the 19th century where they were grown by farmers around Brussels – hence the name. The sprouts are harvested from the tall stalks and occasionally, usually at farmers’ markets, you’ll see a whole stalk for sale. To prepare them for cooking you may need to remove the outer leaves if these are yellow or wilted. Making two cuts across the stalk helps to ensure the sprouts cook evenly right through. Alternatively, cut them in half. Cook them for 8 to 12 minutes in salted water or steam them. Cooking time depends on the size, but avoid cooking them too long, otherwise they’ll be soggy. A pinch of sugar or vegetable bouillon in the cooking water gives a milder flavour.

When you’re shopping, look for firm sprouts with tightly closed leaves. They can be light to dark green.  Fresh brussels sprouts will keep several days in your fridge.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de

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