Brussels sprouts get a glow-up … discover how to make them delicious


If ever a vegetable needed a makeover, it’s the maligned Brussels sprout.  Carrying the reputation of boarding school tales of bitter bullets rendered grey by long boiling, it’s time for Brussels sprouts to get a glow-up, to reveal their true selves. The secret is in the cooking and what you pair with them – read on to find out how to make them delicious!


Brussels sprouts belong to the Brassica family along with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi. They are grown for their edible buds which look like tiny cabbages. They were first cultivated in Belgium in the 1700s, hence their name.  These tiny packages deliver a nutritional punch – rich in vitamins C, K and B6 as well as potassium, iron, thiamine, magnesium and phosphorous. They are high in fibre and low in calories.


When buying, choose compact, bright green sprouts which feel hard when squeezed. Smaller sprouts are sweeter. Prepare them by washing them whole and removing any loose outside leaves especially if they are yellowing. The stems are quite tough so trim them down to just where the leaves come out and cut a cross in the bottom to allow them to cook at the same rate as the rest of the sprout. They can be left whole, if small, or halved.


Brussels sprouts can be cooked in a few different ways. The bitterness Brussels sprouts are known for is due to a compound released if they are cooked for a long time. So the key is to cook them quickly on high heat. The exception is slow cooking where you can add honey and other flavourings to balance any bitterness.  Here are a few ideas:


Boiled and buttered - To retain their bright green colour, boil them in water for no more than 8 minutes, drain and toss with butter, sea salt and herbs.

As a tray bake - lay washed, halved sprouts cut side down on a tray, add sliced garlic, salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and toss. Roast at 200C for 25 minutes, turning over in the last 10 minutes for even browning. If you wish, add cooked, crumbled bacon, toasted pecans, and some soaked, dried cranberries. Alternatively, simply drizzle with a high quality aged balsamic after cooking or add a sweet balsamic glaze before roasting.

Sautéed in a pan - sauté in a heavy-bottomed pan (ideally cast iron) for 10 minutes in olive oil until nicely caramelised, season and add a splash of balsamic vinegar, a shaving of parmesan and a handful of toasted pine nuts.

Slow cooked - put 1kg of washed, trimmed, and halved Brussels sprouts into a slower cooker, add 6 slices of cooked and chopped bacon and half a cup of chopped onion. Mix 3 tbsp melted butter, 1 tbsp honey, salt, and pepper, ¼ cup of water and 2 cloves of crushed garlic and pour over the sprouts. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high for 2 hours.

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