Brussels sprouts: making them delicious

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If you’re used to thinking of brussels sprouts as mushy things that have a sort of sulfurous stench, you may be surprised to learn that when they’re cooked properly, they taste a lot like slightly spicy little cabbages. And they’re totally good for you.

Raw brussels sprout flavor

The flavor of raw brussels sprouts has no hint of sulfur. That gets released in the cooking. Raw, they taste like little mildly peppery cabbages on the inside with a little more of that “green” chlorophyll flavor in the outer dark green leaves.

Unless you have a very strong jaw, I recommend cutting them up into small pieces. They’re hard to chew or bite into otherwise. I chop mine so fine you need a fork or spoon to get all the pieces up.

You can put them in salads or just take them to work in a container and nibble along on them by themselves.

Brussels sprouts in skillet with bacon

Check out How to Make Roasted Corn on the Cob.

Lemon and coarse salt

Here’s a wonderful recipe for eating raw brussels sprouts:  chopped them up fine, squeeze just a little lemon juice over them, and sprinkle some coarse salt on them. The lemon and salt really make the flavor come alive.

Cooking options

There are also quite a lot of ways to cook them so they retain that fresh peppery cabbage flavor and don’t turn sulfurous.

Salt & Pepper Brussels Sprouts

  • Cut them into halves
  • Brush them lightly with olive oil, and then sprinkle some coarse salt and fresh ground pepper over them.
  • Spread them on a sheet of foil or on a cookie sheet
  • Stick them in the oven and cook them on 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until they turn golden brown on top.
  • Once they’re tender enough to bite and chew comfortably, they’re ready to eat:
Brussels sprouts halves roasting on tin foil with salt and pepper

To the above recipe, you can add any or all of the following:

  • Minced garlic
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped pine nuts, cooked separately and added at the end
  • Chopped pumpkin seeds, cooked separately and added at the end
  • Ground sesame seeds
  • Chopped bacon (bacon bits), or pancetta
  • Finely chopped thyme leaves
  • Chopped fresh tarragon
  • Brush with balsamic vinegar
  • Brush with most any rub or flavored oil you like
  • Butter

You can also grill brussels sprouts if that’s more handy than oven roasting. The main goal is to caramelize them slightly, so they get some brown cooking marks on them. That releases the natural sweetness instead of the sulfurous smell.