Although their nutty, slightly bitter
flavor requires a receptive palate, their high nutritional value should
be reason enough to indulge in the tiny cabbages. Jam-packed with
fiber, folate and other essential vitamins like K, C and A, Brussels
sprouts have even been known to help prevent certain types of cancer as
they contain sulforaphane, which produces enzymes that detoxify
cancer-causing chemicals in the body.
With so much leafy goodness, these
veggies are unfortunately never going to taste like a cupcake, but with
the right recipe and a little pizzazz, they can most certainly be just
as scrumptious as any other vegetable. Scott Ferguson, who’s been a
chef for 13 years and the sous chef at Arad Evans Inn, 7206 E. Genesee
St., Fayetteville (637-2020), for about eight months, calls the cult
classic an “underground vegetable.”
“There’s a ‘that’s gross’ stigma about
them, but it’s all in how you cook them,” he assures. “If you roast and
season them the way we do, you can get a lot out of them.”
Standard main dish material sprouts are
not (see accompanying recipe for an exception), but they do make for an
excellent side dish, and a popular one at that. Ferguson scoffs about
customers’ lack of attention toward other sides: “We kind of shot
ourselves in the foot. We offer heirloom baby carrots and two types of
asparagus, too, but people mostly request the Brussels sprouts.”
Sprout season peaks from September to
February and sometimes extends into March, so they’re usually served in
the fall and winter months. But Ferguson says Arad Evans may keep them
on throughout the spring and summer if they can get decent enough
produce. “It’s a tough call,” he says. “They’re a prominent menu item
Adam Tobin, a chef at the Brae Loch Inn,
5 Albany St., Cazenovia (655-3431), echoes Ferguson’s indecision.
“Sprouts are definitely coming back around,” he says. “People really
seem to like them so it’s something we’ll probably start doing a little
Brae Loch sautes their sprouts in garlic, salt and olive oil, and serves them topped in a white wine cream sauce.
Because of the hardiness of the
vegetable, Ferguson recommends pairing sprouts with rich meat dishes.
His favorite sprout accompaniment, he says, is the Piedmontese ribeye
served at Arad Evans.
As far as buying Brussels sprouts is
concerned, they’re pretty on par pricewise with other veggies of the
Brassica or cabbage genus, like broccoli and cauliflower—about $2 a
pound. Look for small, tight mini-cabbages, bright green with no
blemishes or yellowed leaves. If purchasing individual sprouts, make
sure they’re roughly the same size to ensure even and thorough cooking.
MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTOS
For a fast, mess-free sprout fix, pick
up a bag of Birds Eye’s Steamfresh baby Brussels sprouts. These yummy
veggies will go “from freezer, to microwave, to perfect” in 10 minutes
or less, boasts birdseyesteamfresh.com.
Creamy Sprouts and Noodles
Roasted Brussels Sprouts