Many people have a love-hate relationship with Brussels sprouts. But by the time you're done reading this, you'll learn how to roast Brussels sprouts that will turn out so tasty that your family will be asking for seconds.
What pops into your mind when you think of Brussels sprouts? Maybe it's a childhood memory of mushy, bitter-tasting, foul-smelling miniature versions of cabbages that your mom forced you to eat. These small, roundish buds have a pretty bad rep.
But no more soggy greens for you! My recipe for crispy roasted Brussels sprouts leaves them crisp and golden on the outside, tender on the inside, and full of sweet, nutty, caramelized flavor.
About The Sprout
Brussels sprouts are members of the cruciferous vegetables family, along with cauliflower, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and bok choy. The buds on a Brussels sprouts plant grow around a central stem.
If you like cabbage, and especially if you like broccoli, the chances are good that you'll enjoy the taste of Brussels sprouts, too. Even though cabbage and sprouts share an outward appearance and texture, they do not taste the same.
Sprouts vary a bit in taste depending on their size. Like other fruits and vegetables, the smaller ones have a sweeter flavor than the more mature ones.
Fun fact: Brussels sprouts are believed to have originated in Rome but became popular as a vegetable crop in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. This may help you remember how to spell it correctly as it's frequently misspelled as Brussel sprouts.
Why Do Some People Hate Brussels Sprouts?
The taste and smell: Like other Brassica veggies, Brussels sprouts contain high amounts of sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which give them a sharp or bitter taste. However, the fact that you find sprouts bitter may be due to genes. When exposed to heat for a sufficient amount of time, Brussels sprouts produce a sulfur-like smell, which intensifies as the cooking continues.
The remedy: Try steamed sprouts instead of boiling them. Place them in a large saucepan with a steamer basket and boiling water until they're bright green and tender, which should take no more than 7 minutes. Alternatively, you can roast them (I'm about to show you the best way to do so) or experiment with sautéed Brussels sprouts recipes.
The gas: According to Dr. Helen Webberley, a GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy, Brussels Sprouts contain high amounts of cellulose as well as a complex sugar called raffinose that is difficult for the normal human digestive system to process.
As a result, most of the original sprouts arrive in the colon, where gut bacteria digest them. A lot of gas — including methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen — is created in the process. This can lead to bloating, abdominal pain, burping, and flatulence.
The remedy: I have a few suggestions to help. Here are some ways you can digest cruciferous vegetables like this better:
- Chew really well. I mean 20 or 30 times per mouthful. Chew until your food is liquified for optimal digestion.
- Don't drink much fluid with your meals. It's best to drink water or other beverages an hour before or after a meal. Small sips to take supplements or medications are ok.
- Enjoy a teaspoon or so of fermented vegetable pickles with a meal. ie: raw sauerkraut
- A digestive enzyme might be helpful to help digest your meal.
- Taking activated charcoal may help in reducing the levels of gas and potentially avoiding bloating.
- A cup of peppermint tea after a meal may also help soothe the digestive tract and ease indigestion.
Brussels Sprouts Nutrition
Brussels sprouts are nutritional powerhouses that leave other veggies in their dust. One cooked cup of these green veggies contains 12% of the recommended daily value for dietary fiber, over 80% of the minimum daily vitamin C target, and more than 120% of the recommended daily target for vitamin K.
They are also rich in antioxidants. A study found that eating two cups of Brussels sprouts a day reduced damage at the cell level by nearly 30%. The fiber in sprouts helps regulate blood sugar levels, supports digestive health, and helps feed the beneficial gut bacteria tied to positive mood, immunity, and anti-inflammation.
The high vitamin K content of Brussels sprouts helps in the clotting of blood and plays a role in bone health, and may help protect against bone loss.
When you're at the grocery store, look for bright green heads that are firm and heavy for their size. The leaves should be tightly packed, and the bud should be hard when gently squeezed. Smaller sprouts are usually sweet and more tender than large ones.
Try to choose sprouts that are roughly the same size so that they cook more evenly. Avoid those with leaves that have holes or are shriveled, wrinkling, or withered. Black spots on the leaves could be a sign of fungus. The stem end should look dry but not brown or, worse, moldy.
If you happen to find Brussels sprouts on the stalk, buy them. Sprouts on the stalk stay fresher for a longer period than loose sprouts. Store them in fresh water, like flowers, and use a paring knife to remove them from the stalk before preparing.
Place fresh, unwashed sprouts in an airtight bag and store them in the refrigerator's crisper drawer. Use them as soon as possible as sprouts tend to lose sweetness with age.
How To Roast Brussels Sprouts
This recipe requires minimal work and a handful of ingredients.
Give the sprouts a good rinse, and then pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. Trim off the bottom of the tough stem end of each sprout. Remove any yellow or damaged leaves, and cut each bud in half lengthwise, from tip to trimmed end.
Drizzle with some olive oil and season with sea salt, black pepper, onion powder, and some garlic powder. You can also add some fresh herbs if you like (I like to add half a teaspoon of fresh thyme). Toss until the sprouts are lightly and evenly coated.
Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes. I find that this is long enough for the sprouts to be fork tender yet still crispy and lightly charred on the outside, as well as go from semi-intense raw veggie to sweet caramelized goodness.
Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or drizzle apple cider vinegar over the roasted sprouts for an extra kick of flavor.
How to Roast Vegetables Without Oil
If you're avoiding the use of oils, you can roast your sprouts or other vegetables simply using some vinegar. This article walks you through how to roast them with just a touch of curry powder and sea salt. But you'll need to steam starchy vegetables first. This helps them to get tender enough.
Simple roasted Brussels sprouts with salt and pepper taste great just the way they are. However, if you want to go beyond the regular salt and pepper seasoning, here are some ideas.
Garlic. Roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic powder don't taste the same as using fresh garlic, even though it's not as messy or sticky to prepare. Roasting garlic mellows out its sharpness, pungency, and bite, leaving deep, complex flavors that complement the sprouts. Keep your fingers free of garlic juice using this slicer.
Balsamic vinegar. The tangy, deep flavor of balsamic vinegar is a great way to enhance this dish. Brussels sprouts roasted with balsamic vinegar have a subtle sweetness and a caramelized finish.
Dairy-free Cheese. Freshly grated parmesan cheese is a common topping over roasted sprouts. For a dairy-free version of the classic roasted Brussels sprouts with Parmesan cheese recipe, sprinkle with ¼ cup of almond flour mixed with a pinch of sea salt during the final 5 minutes of cooking.
Vegetarian Bacon. Another classic variation of this recipe is oven roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon bits. Try adding some shiitake mushroom bacon. This addition will have you eating the entire pan right out of the oven.Print
More Roasted Vegetables Recipes
If you love pan-roasted Brussels sprouts, try roasting one of these veggies next:
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