If you were haunted by childhood memories of having to force down a bite of Brussels sprouts before getting dessert, it's time to give those little green balls another chance. Modern cooking techniques have turned what was once a mushy, bitter miniature cabbage into a complex sweet and nutty vegetable with a subtle crunch.
Roasting, sautéing and grilling Brussels sprouts will caramelize their natural sugars and bring out a slightly sweet flavor. To prepare sprouts, wash and pat dry, trim off any stem, and halve lengthwise. To roast or grill, toss sprouts with olive oil, salt and other seasonings as desired. Roast in a preheated oven at 425ᵒF for 15 to 20 minutes, or grill in a grill basket or on skewers for 6 minutes, turning halfway through. Sautéing is another easy method; heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add sprouts, season and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Brussels sprouts are great on their own as a cooked side dish, but they can also be shredded or thinly sliced and served raw in a salad or slaw. A stir-fry or a stew is another avenue to get in these delicious veggies.
The fresher the sprouts, the better the flavor, so refrigerator storage should not exceed a day or two. Remove any damaged or irregular outer leaves and store fresh unwashed sprouts in plastic bags in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator. One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts yields a mere 56 calories but has a whopping 4 grams of dietary fiber and is an excellent source of vitamin C.
Brussels Sprouts with Mushroom Sauce
½ pound Brussels sprouts
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup sliced mushrooms
Trim Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Steam until tender - about 6 to 10 minutes, or microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes. In a non-stick pot bring the broth to a boil. Mix in the lemon juice, mustard, and thyme. Add the mushrooms. Boil until the broth is reduced by half, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts. Toss well to coat with the sauce.
Yield: 2 servings
Source: University of Connecticut, Family Nutrition Program
Nutritional analysis per serving: 45 calories, 1 gram fat, 64 milligrams sodium, 8 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 4 grams protein
Smith, a registered dietitian, is a nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306.