Not your mom’s Brussels sprouts three ways

by Mara Eyllon on November 19, 2010

If your childhood memories of Brussels sprouts are stowed away in the back of your brain next to trips to the dentist, it’s time to reevaluate. This week we’re pretty sure we can convert all of those Brussels sprout haters to lovers with a few tricks that will leave your taste buds satisfied and your heart agonizing over all those lost years.

High in dietary fiber, low in calories and rich with vitamins, this cruciferous vegetable (think kale, broccoli and cabbage) is making a comeback, and they are not what you remember.

Few pleasures amount to those achieved by eating a roasted sprout generously seasoned with sea salt, garlic and olive oil and set to roast in a 400 degree oven, until the outer leaves are crisp and golden. Or perhaps a balsamic roasted sprout–cooked until the acid of the balsamic vinegar is reduced to a thin caramel sheen. And of course, our favorite, fresh sprouts sautéed in the seasoning of the season: bacon.

Last week, at the Davis Square Farmers Market, we met up with Farmer Al, who sold us a lovely stock of vibrant green sprouts. Farmer Al, of South Lancaster, also moonlights as a sage and writer and was kind enough to give us a free copy of his self-published book Farmer Al’s Seeds of Wisdom, a three-chapter, 74-page tribute to Al’s life philosophies, which are suitable for country and city folk alike.

Enjoy the last of the season’s local sprouts as the Davis Square Farmers Market bids farewell on Thanksgiving Eve, and with those sprouts, take this seed of wisdom from Farmer Al: “To keep warm put on your sweater and coat or get in a warm place.”

Brussels Sprouts Three Ways

Preparing the Brussels sprouts

Thoroughly rinse the sprouts under cool, running water and dry. Trim and discard stems and brown leaves. Halve the sprouts if you plan to sauté them in bacon, this will allow them to cook quickly and evenly.

Caramelized, Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Yields four servings


1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts (halved if large)

3 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp sea salt plus extra to taste

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare sprouts and toss in balsamic-oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes, flip and cook for ten additional minutes.

Olive Oil and Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Yields four servings

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts (halved if large)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3-4 cloves fresh garlic, smashed and chopped

1 tsp coarsely ground sea salt plus extra to taste

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sprouts in olive oil and seasonings. Roast for 20 minutes, flip sprouts and roast for 25 additional minutes, until outer leaves are flakey and golden. Season with extra sea salt as needed.

Brussels Sprouts Sauteed in Bacon


Yields four servings

½ cup applewood smoked bacon, cut into quarter inch bits.

1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts

salt and pepper to taste


Heat bacon over medium for 10 minutes, until the fats are released and bacon is soft. Add fresh Brussels sprouts, raise heat to high and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently, until sprouts are vibrant green, remove from heat, garnish with salt and pepper.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Whitesnakes November 19, 2010 at 11:28 PM

I’ve been glazing brussel sprouts at least once a week now for a while. It was a revelation when I realized they could do more than just be steamed or boiled. These are some great additions, thanks.

Fathmina November 20, 2010 at 11:40 AM

…no comment. (it won’t let me submit “no comment” as a comment! it’s too short!)

Mara Eyllon November 20, 2010 at 12:23 PM

Whitesnakes, what kind of glaze do you use?

There should be a disclaimer–roasting sprouts cooks out most of the vitamins–if you’re intent on reaping those benefits, I recommend making one roasted batch, one steamed and tossing them all together.

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