JEFF TIEDEMAN: Brussels sprouts — do 'em up rightVegetable can be a tasty treat despite a bad rap.
Brussels sprouts don’t have the best reputation.
Here’s a case in point. I’ve mentioned to several people over the past couple of weeks that my Brussels sprouts — a cool season crop — are the only vegetable left in my garden, with the exception of a half-row of Swiss chard.
And when I’ve asked if they like them, the answer that people gave more often than not was no. I would venture a guess that most of those people haven’t even tried Brussels sprouts.
Part of the reason Brussels sprouts have gotten a bad rap is that like their cruciferous cousins — cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower — they emit a nasty sulfurous odor when overcooked. (They also look kind of nasty and are mushy and bitter when you eat them.)
However, when they’re properly prepared, Brussels sprouts are a delicacy — the perfect holiday side dish.
Combining them with something salty, sour or sweet helps eliminate the bitterness.
For example, toss sauteed sprouts with bacon, roast them at high heat with a little bit of sugar or steam, shred and dress them with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
Or if you prefer something simple, just give them a quick fry in some olive oil for a few minutes on high heat and season with salt and pepper.
Brussels sprouts, which trace their origins to Italy in Roman times and possibly as early as the 1200 in Belgium (hence, its name), are one of nature’s most nutritious vegetables. They are considered a nutrient-dense food, which means they provide vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients for the lowest amount of calories, according to Danika Warner-Noreen, a licensed registered dietitian at Altru Health System.
Among their health attributes:
— Brussels sprouts are a very good source of vitamins A, C and K, folic acid (particularly good for pregnant women) and contain high amounts of fiber, potassium, iron and folacin.
— The phytochemicals in Brussels sprouts — beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin — help the natural defense system of the body.
— And its glucosinolates help prevent colon cancer.
I haven’t harvested my Brussels sprouts (Jade cross variety) yet, but it won’t take me as long as it has in past years. Normally, I blanch and freeze up to a dozen quart bags of the sprouts, but this spring, two of my four plants were ravaged by rabbits, while the others are kind of a disappointment. I’ll be lucky to get a couple of meals out of them.
But some is better than none when it comes to this vegetable.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.