Green Kitchen is a bi-weekly column about nutritious, inexpensive, and ethical food and cooking. It's penned by the lovely Jaime Green.
Dear readers, for those of you not living in the Northeast, let me tell you something I just learned: it is FALL! Sure, Utah was having snowstorms two weeks ago, but whatever. In my little world, the seasons just started changing, and hard.
When I told my boyfriend that I could see my breath this morning he was like, “Why are you so excited about it being freezing out?”
“I don’t know.” I thought for a moment. “I guess I really like November?”
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Two weekends ago I texted a few friends a picture of the fall’s first Brussels sprouts at the farmers market, along with the word, “first!”
I know that summer is the season of produce bounty or whatever, and I have enjoyed it. I ate sweet cherry tomatoes like grapes, munched on every color of bell pepper, enjoyed berries and peaches and plums. It was great.
But fall is my favorite season for produce. The first few apples I saw just reminded me of late-winter apple fatigue, but now I’ve been making batches of spicy apple sauce that I’m frankly addicted to. I’m roasting sweet potatoes and sautéing broccoli and there’s a butternut squash on my kitchen table with a date with a (hopefully) sharp knife.
And then there are Brussels sprouts. O, Brussels sprouts, I love them so. I can’t tell how far into the popular consciousness their adoration has spread. It’s like a rumor, passed friend to friend, or admission to the Secret Brussels Sprouts Appreciation Society. “Have you tried roasted Brussels sprouts?” “If you brown them in a pan, they’re better than bacon.” “My mother used to steam them and they smelled like trash, but cooked hot and salty they’re— Oh, sorry, I’m drooling down my shirt.”
So, I want to make sure you’ve heard. When steamed or boiled, Brussels sprouts are gross, deserving of their putrid reputation. But roasted or sautéed, browned and salted just right, they’re— Oh, sorry, I’m drooling down my shirt again.
Beyond that, Brussels sprouts are also a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamine, Folate, Iron, and fiber. They come into season (at least in the Northeast and other similarly climated regions) in mid-October, and last past the frost. Their relatives include cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, and kale, and they do indeed look like tiny cabbages (or brains). They grow on stalks, and sometimes you can buy them that way at the farmers market, and it looks CRAZY.
And that was Brussels sprouts fact-time! Yay!
My go-to Brussels sprout recipe, and what originally converted me to their cult, is Heidi Swansson’s Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts. The cheese is superfluous but the method is perfection – cook halved sprouts with oil and salt, sautéing until they’re carmelized and browned. Crispy outsides, melty insides, addictive throughout. I served them as a side dish when I cooked Thanksgiving at my mom’s house a couple of years ago (everything but the bird), and converted my family in one go.
Sometimes, though, I just don’t have the patience to make sure the cut sides are browned, to find the right balance between thorough cooking inside and out. (Cooking Brussels sprouts too slowly lets the insides steam, giving you that nasty, almost horseradishey flavor.)
(You can also roast these babies in the oven – tossed with oil and salt, laid out on a baking sheet, shaken around once in a while, until browned and delicious. But I’m still living in the land of No Gas to the Kitchen, and a meager few toaster oven-roasted Brussels sprouts is just not enough for my fix.)
So here’s my new favorite way to cook Brussels sprouts – it gives you the pan-sautéed flavor without any of the finicky work.
You shred some sprouts. You heat oil in a pan. You sautee them until they’re done.
Oh, you wanted an actual recipe? Okay. Enjoy. Welcome to the club.
If you think this looks good, yer gonna love:
Golden Shredded Brussels Sprouts
1 lb Brussels sprouts (3-4 cups shredded)
1/8-1/4 t salt
dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
Note: if increasing recipe, cook in batches – an overfull pan of sprouts will steam rather than brown.
1) Trim ends and loose leaves off of sprouts. Cut (lengthwise) into thin shreds.
2) Heat olive oil in a wide sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add sprouts and toss with salt and red pepper.
3) Sauté until sprouts are browned in places, about ten minutes.
Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
129 calories, 7.5g fat, 5.6g fiber, 5.2g protein, $1.51
1 lb Brussels sprouts: 132 calories, 0.9g fat, 11.7g fiber, 10.4g protein, $3.00
1/8-1/4 t salt: 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.01
dash of red pepper flakes: 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.01
TOTALS: 258 calories, 14.9g fat, 11.7g fiber, 10.4g protein, $3.02
PER SERVING (TOTAL/2): 129 calories, 7.5g fat, 5.6g fiber, 5.2g protein, $1.51
PER SERVING (TOTAL/3): 86 calories, 5g fat, 3.9g fiber, 3.5g protein, $1.00