Sprouts are the eternal green mystery. They really split the crowd. But at this time of year they come into their own and deserve the spotlight.
Brussels sprouts are essentially a little cabbage. Many people boil the living daylights out of them. That treatment is great for making sprout purée. My Mum would boil them for about a month and a half with loads of salt. She made us drink the briny water because its good for spots. And I haven’t had a spot since!
But sprouts are very versatile. They hold their flavour better than most vegetables even when cooked for a long time. They also take on seasonings and spices well.
I like to fry them in butter with almonds. Mr Sprout loves cream and butter.
Puréed sprouts make an outstanding soup. Just add a packet of frozen peas, some potatoes and a splash of milk or cream.
They are great with simple macaroni cheese. The green flecks of sprout look lovely, particularly with parsley on top.
Don’t be shy with the black pepper. It complements sprouts perfectly. They’re also actually great with rice in curry going really well with Indian spices.
In the restaurant we sometimes deep-fry the skins of small, young tender sprouts. Then we dry them out and use them as a garnish. It works brilliantly.
I also cook a lovely dish where puréed sprouts are the accompaniment to pasta and sea bass. We sell a lot of sprouts in our dishes in the restaurant.
They work as well as any other vegetable in a simple stir fry too. They’re lovely cut up fine and fried in sesame oil with chilli and mange tout.
Christmas would not be complete without Brussels sprouts but did you know that they contain four times as much vitamin C as an orange?
Here are some more fascinating facts that you might not know about Brussels sprouts
1 They are part of the brassica vegetable family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli and kale
2 They are named after Brussels in Belgium, where they were widely cultivated during the 16th century
3 They were introduced to the UK in the 19th century
4 According to a survey in 2002, Brussels sprouts are the most hated vegetable in Britain
5 They were introduced to America in the 1800s by French settlers in Louisiana
6 They contain sinigrin, a glucosinate that scientists believe could prevent colon cancer
7 The UK produces enough Brussels sprouts to carpet the square mile of the City of London each year
8 Only 19% of sprouts are bought by people under 45
9 Sprouts are a rich source of vitamin C and folic acid
10 Because they are named after Brussels they are always plural and capitalised