What’s on the Market – Bring it On, Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts have had a perpetual bad rap. They’re known as the worst food on earth to many kids, when truly, they aren’t that harmful. How dangerous is a small cabbage-looking vegetable?

I perpetually spell Brussels sprouts wrong. Maybe I say it wrong, but I always refer to them as “brussel sprouts”. But, it’s spelled like the city in Europe…so I’m not sure if that means it’s pronounced like the city or not. Either way, I still call them brussel sprouts. Sorry, Belgium. You guys get waffles too, so don’t sweat it.

The reason they are called “Brussels sprouts” is because they originated in Belgium, almost 800 years ago possibly. They were cultivated in Ancient Rome, in the area that would now be Brussels, or Belgium.

Bet you didn’t see this one coming. Brussels sprouts are related to broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc. It’s just the cruciferous vegetable month. Brussels sprouts contain vitamin A and C, folic acid and dietary fiber. They also have sinigrin, a glucosinolate (whoa biology) that is believed to protect against colon cancer.

Brussels sprouts were first grown in Louisiana in the beginning of the 19th century after French settlers brought them to the United States. Now, Brussels sprouts are grown all over California – in San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey – because of the ideal cool climate. They are harvested from about June through January, giving people lots of opportunities to eat them! So don’t miss out!

Fun fact: The United States produces 27,000 tons annually (of Brussels sprouts of course), valuing at $27 million! And you thought vegetables weren’t that important.

I grew up eating vegetables, thanks to my mom, so I’ve eaten them in a variety of ways, but my favorite is roasted with some butter and pancetta (a salt cured pork belly – bacon works just fine!).

Roasted Brussels sprouts with Pancetta (mine don’t have any, I ran out!)

    • Brussels sprouts
    • Olive oil
    • Butter
    • Pancetta (or bacon)
    • Salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°. While the oven is preheating, set a pot of water on the stove to boil. Wash and clean the Brussels sprouts (see note after) and cut them in half. Once the water is boiling, put the Brussels sprouts in for five minutes to soften. After five minutes, drain the Brussels sprouts and place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Toss with olive oil.

Once the oven has preheated, put the Brussels sprouts into the oven to roast. I don’t really keep time, I just open the oven every once in a while – maybe 15 – 25 minutes. Make sure to check them though.

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, take out some bacon or pancetta, cut into ½ inch strips, and fry until crispy in a pan. After the Brussels sprouts have finished roasting, take them out of the oven and throw some butter onto the cookie sheet to melt (this depends on how many Brussels sprouts there are. I like to put enough for an even coating). After the butter has melted slightly, mix until completely incorporated. Then mix in the pancetta or bacon. Serve.

Note: Cleaning Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts can be difficult to work with if you don’t know how to clean them. They are really easy once you get the hang of it. I like to rinse all my Brussels sprouts under water first. Then I take them individually and cut off the stem on the bottom, it’s usually pretty small, unless you’re buying Brussels sprouts on the stalk. Then, I just peel the outer layers of leaf off, to get any dark spots or dirt off. Now they’re ready to go!

Next week is garlic! I hope no vampires are reading this… just kidding.


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