It seems that the only time of the year that we eat brussel sprouts is during the festive holidays, and these small cabbage like vegetables are certainly an acquired taste much like marmite is. You either love sprouts or you don’t. Perhaps the biggest off-putting part of a sprout is the fact that when they are just boiled they become quite bitter, and if you overcook them, well, then you really do have an unpleasant tasting vegetable on your hands.
The truth is, brussel sprouts are a Christmas tradition in many parts of the world and supermarkets noticeably see a steep incline in the sales of fresh and frozen sprouts in the lead up to Christmas. However, these vegetables are very good food you, and they contain plenty of nutrients that can help you keep a healthy mind and body. Whether it’s the antioxidants, the plethora of vitamin C and K or the detox qualities it has, they really are an all-year round vegetable.
Sprouts can be cooked using many different methods of cooking but perhaps the main way is to boil them, usually because you are boiling other vegetables at the same time. The important part is not to overcook them as the taste qualities and textures tend to start becoming unpleasant. Strong bitter tastes and mushy textures aren’t something you really want to serve to your guests whether it’s Christmas time or Easter time.
To boil your sprouts you need only a few ingredients and they are your sprouts, some salt, some pepper and some butter for serving. Firstly you need to bring a pot of water to boil and then add a pinch of salt. You want to get the water boiling before you add the sprouts for the best texture and taste as the end result.
Before introducing the sprouts you want to make sure you prepare them by washing them under some cold water, all this does is removes any impurities, and you may also want to remove any off-colour leaves (usually yellow ones). Once you have completed this step you can now add the sprouts to that boiling pan and then cook them for around 10-15 minutes, checking them in that last 5 minute period to make sure you don’t overcook or undercook them.
Drain them, pepper them up and then add a knob of butter on to the top of them ready for serving to your dinner guests.
Not many people have tried this method but if you aren’t too keen on the flavour of a boiled sprout then you may want to look at the sauté option which tends to offer more in terms of tastes and textures.
With each sprout you want to cook it’s always best when sautéing is to cut them into halves. It can be time consuming if you have a lot of sprouts to get through but trust us; you are going to get much better results in the long-term.
The preparation steps are the same as the boiling method, so rinse them under cool running water and remove any dead leaves from the sprouts, but this time instead of preparing a saucepan with hot water and salt you will instead want to get a frying pan ready with a few tablespoons of olive oil.
Put the heat up to a medium-high temperature and once the oil has heated up you can begin to individually introduce each sprout to the pan (making sure you lay each sprout down, flat-side on the base of the pan). As they begin to cook sprinkle some pepper and salt over the top of them to season them and leave the cook for around 5 minutes until you flip them over onto their backs.
You should see visible signs that they are cooking, and a golden brown colour should become apparent.
The final step, and trick to the sauté process is to pour in about a third of a cup of water, this cup will cover the bottom of the pan and boil them slightly until the water has evaporated. This is an important step that you shouldn’t forget and usually it takes about 5 minutes for the water to evaporate and for the sprouts to be fully cooked.
So that’s a total of 5 minutes on each side, and then 5 minutes after the addition of the water.
To serve up the sprouts you can use a knob of butter on top of them to melt down into the vegetables, or you could even try squeezing some lemon juice across them for an alternative but complimenting flavour that will tickle your taste buds.
Either way, this proves sprouts aren’t just for Christmas.