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Brussels sprouts can be yummy with right sauce

Some folks enjoy nibbling on a naked carrot.

No can do? Then go ahead and pass the ranch dip.

Chances are you also consider celery inedible without a swipe of peanut butter and steamed broccoli offensive unless it’s swimming in a rich cheese sauce.

But nutrition experts say if that’s the only way to get Americans to eat more veggies, that’s OK.

It’s no secret that brussels sprouts are at the top of the most-hated vegetables list. Yet with the right sauce you might just change your mind.

Cloaked in a mustard-flavored vinaigrette and garnished with shavings of Parmesan, Italian-Style Brussels Sprouts are an appetizing way to enjoy these Thumbelina-sized cabbages.

Quick-cooking is the key to avoiding that bitter, cabbagey taste that results from the breakdown of sulfur compounds. Gently steaming brussels sprouts yields a pleasing texture and slightly nutty flavor.

Brussels sprouts, a member of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family, are very high in vitamin C, contain a good amount of folate and a fair amount of iron. And a 1/2-cup serving of brussels sprouts contains as much fiber as two slices of whole-grain bread.

At some stores you can find brussels sprouts still attached to the stalk; others sell them loose. Choose bright green compact heads that are heavy for their size and free of any soft spots or yellowing leaves. The root ends should look freshly cut without signs of browning.

It’s best to use brussels sprouts within three days of purchase to avoid off flavors. Store loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator.

Italian-Style Brussels Sprouts

1 pound fresh brussels sprouts

1/2 cup water

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan cheese

Trim the ends from the brussels sprouts and cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat water in a medium nonstick skillet. Add brussels sprouts. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat, stirring frequently about 10 minutes or until just tender and liquid has evaporated. (If there is additional moisture remaining once brussels sprouts are tender, drain them.)

Whisk mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and garlic together. Toss brussels sprouts together with dressing. Shave Parmesan cheese over top.

Yield: 5 (1/2-cup) servings

Nutrition information per serving: 84 calories (42 percent from fat), 4 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 1 milligram cholesterol, 8 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 92 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.

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