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Recipes for Beauty: Brussels Sprouts

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If there were a list of most hated vegetables, Brussels sprouts would surely make the top five. Many of us learned to loathe the bite-sized orbs as kids, when we were force-fed overcooked mush that smelled kind of like rotten eggs (overcooking cruciferous veggies like Brussels and Broccoli cause their cancer-fighting glucosinolates to break down, releasing sulphur). But Brussels sprouts are delicious when cooked the right way and there are plenty of reasons to eat them. In addition to cancer-fighting compounds inside and myriad other health benefits, they’re also one of the season’s best vegetables for skin. High concentrations of vitamin C tighten and tone skin by boosting collagen production, and vitamin K acts as an antioxidant (vitamin C does, too!) that protects skin against free radical damage.

You can prepare Brussels a number of ways, but roasting and sauteing are two of the tastiest. Both of these cooking methods bring out the sprouts’ natural sweetness and nuttiness, while minimizing any sulphury notes. Try any of these three easy-to-follow recipes to get this powerhouse veggie into your diet.

Easy Side Dish: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss Brussels sprouts, shallot, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 20 to 30 minutes, until Brussels sprouts are tender. Whisk together the mustard and balsamic vinegar and toss with the Brussels sprouts to coat. Serves 4.

Revamped Salad: Brussels Sprouts Ceasar Salad

For the salad:

  • 2 lbs Brussels sprouts, leaves separated
  • 2 cups bread cubes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or shaved
  • For the dressing:
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovy fillets, mashed into a paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle the bread cubes with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until crispy. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolk, anchovy paste, garlic, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the Brussels sprout leaves and croutons with the dressing. Top with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4.

Seasonal Pasta: Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts, Cranberries, and Caramelized Onions

from Saveur

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 6 oz fettuccine
  • 2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to cool, then crumble and set aside. Add the Brussels sprouts cut side down to the skillet and cook until they begin to crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and saute for another 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and cranberries and bring to a simmer, then cover, reduce heat, and cook until the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, cook the fettuccine to al dente, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water. Combine the pasta and Brussels sprouts and toss over medium-high heat until most of the liquid is absorbed (adding some of the reserved cooking water if the mixture is too dry). Top with Parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon. Serves 4.

Photo: Alex Brunsdon