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Brussels sprouts

The characteristics of Brussels sprouts

Contrary to their name, Brussels sprouts are grown throughout central and northern Europe, not just in Belgium. Actually, they favour chilly climates. Either way, they are just “cabbages” that have been picked before they reach full maturity. They look just like tiny cabbages in every way. This makes their flavour more intense and savoury.

Although they are considered a great delicacy, Brussels sprouts are also appreciated for their nutritional value.With a minimum caloric intake of 37 kcal per 100 grammes, they provide vitamins, mineral salts, and other beneficial substances, specifically group B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Additionally, Brussels sprouts have a high fibre content—up to 5% of the total. Because they contain compounds like thiocyanates and indoles, they are also regarded as antioxidants.

The different types of Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are actually a variety of cabbage. However, over the centuries, they have undergone a path of fragmentation, which has given rise to numerous sub-variants. Here are the most popular ones:

  • Jade Cross: It is probably the most widespread variety. Compared to other varieties, it has a more regular shape and larger dimensions. The flavour has a hint of sweetness mixed with savoury undertones. Harvesting usually takes place in the final weeks of autumn.
  • Perfection: This variety is harvested both in the autumn and winter. These sprouts are quite firm, very tasty, and slightly light in color. The dimensions are smaller than those of the Jade Cross. It is the most cultivated variety in Holland and France.

How are they prepared?

In northern Europe, Brussels sprouts are mainly consumed as a side dish, often simply blanched and steamed, perhaps dipped in melted liquid. However, they can also be the protagonists of more elaborate recipes. A brief but comprehensive selection that is sure to pique your curiosity and spark your creativity is provided below.

For example, we find first courses, perhaps made with fresh pasta and vegetables. We also find creative side dishes that focus not only on taste but also on plating, as well as on pairing with apparently different and incompatible ingredients. In summary, Brussels sprouts’ versatility and capacity to suit a wide range of dishes are other advantages.

Here are some recipes with Brussels sprouts

In this paragraph, I present to you some recipes with Brussels sprouts (or sprouts, if you prefer), which I have discussed here on the site and which I recommend you learn more about.

Baked Brussels sprouts with apples and bacon. In this recipe, Brussels sprouts give life to a simple recipe that offers a lot of satisfaction in terms of taste and aesthetics. The dish comes in a truly suggestive range of colours, ranging from green to yellow to orange. The taste is also very varied, as it is favored by the simultaneous presence of bacon and pecans.

Garganelli with sprouts and mushrooms. In this case, the Brussels sprouts form a non-liquid but still well-integrated condiment. In addition, they are supported by mushrooms, with which they make a really interesting combination. If you’re not a fan of garganelli, I suggest choosing short, thick pasta.

Baked Brussels sprouts with ham. Another full-bodied yet simple side dish. This recipe impresses with the combination of sprouts and ham, which expresses a marked delicacy. It goes well with first and second courses of all kinds. Furthermore, it can be considered a second course in its own right, even though it is very light.

Brussels sprouts au gratin with gorgonzola cheese. Grating sprouts comes almost naturally, given their consistency and flavour. This does not mean that a little creativity can be used. This is precisely the case with this recipe, which also features gorgonzola as the protagonist, an ingredient that provides a touch of acidity to an overall classic gratin.

Brussels sprout flans. We close with a really nice and gourmet recipe. The potatoes and sprouts are cooked and blended, then combined with cream and egg whites. Flans can be considered full-bodied appetizers if they are portioned into small molds.

How do you wash Brussels sprouts?

Although they are not always found on Italian menus, Brussels sprouts are nonetheless a common ingredient in food preparation. We generally find them in oil or pickles, although it is preferable to opt for the fresh product. In this case, how do you best clean sprouts? How do you get them ready to cook? The handling of the leaves is the primary area of uncertainty.

The leaves must be removed as they transmit an unpleasant scent. Next, the pulp is smoothed out into the shape of a ball using a small knife. Lastly, a shallow cross incision is created, which is an essential step when considering cooking. After that, they receive a thorough washing under running water.
The sprouts can now be steam-cooked, roasted, or boiled in boiling water. Of course, they work just as well in a pan with a little oil drizzled on them.

What are Brussels sprouts good for?

I have already mentioned the nutritional properties of Brussels sprouts, but the time has come to delve deeper into the topic, describing their beneficial impact on the body. The reference is to digestion, which is facilitated thanks to the abundant presence of fibre.

The presence of beta-carotene in Brussels sprouts should also be appreciated, which promotes the absorption of vitamin A, which is important for skin health and vision. Furthermore, they protect the cardiovascular system thanks to the presence of homocysteine, which stimulates the elasticity of the arteries and regulates blood density.

Do Brussels sprouts have any contraindications? Basically, no, or rather, the few that can be detected are all attributable to excessive consumption. In this case, the abundance of fibre could cause irritability of the colon, swelling, and various gastrointestinal disorders.