In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Martian Heads (a.k.a. Brussels Sprouts)

My vegetable of the week :

Most people I know, my own kids included, will make funny faces when you announce Brussels Sprouts for dinner. It is truly an under-appreciated vegetable, and when overcooked, frozen or tough, it is indeed one of those "suffer thr0ugh the veggies to get to dessert" foods.

But Brussel Sprouts can be delicious, really.
First of all, let's have some fun re-naming them. My kids get a giggle out of their dad calling them "Martian Heads", and this first recipe's name sure got their interest piqued. All these are new recipes I'm planning on trying this week (after all, I got a whole stalk of them in my CSA box this week!)

screaming heads

(recipe from Glacier Valley CSA's newsletter GG#46)

Not your basic gratin by any means. And it is a little caloric heavy, but it is fun to splurge every now and then. This comes from and was featured on their Thanksgiving special.

Brussels sprouts with mustard & caper sauce

(recipe found at GG#45)

This recipe is based on a recipe from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, from Alison and Dan’s Rise and Shine Bakery website. It is a great resource not only for whole grain bread featuring Alaskan ingredients, but fantastic recipes!

Roasted brussels sprouts with dijon, walnuts and crisp crumbs

(recipe found at GG#44)

The mustard-Worcestershire seasoning is a tangy counterpoint to the sprouts. You can do the crumb topping hours before serving. This is a version of a recipe out of Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase.

photo credit:
where I also learned a great deal more about these miniature cabbage heads:

The forerunner to the modern Brussels sprout was probably first cultivated in ancient Rome. Brussels sprouts, as we now know them, were grown as early as the 1200s in what is now Belgium. The first written reference of the Brussels sprout dates to 158 7. During the sixteenth century they were popular in the southern Netherlands and eventually spread to the cooler parts of Northern Europe.

They grow like buds in a spiral array of 20 – 40 on the side of long thick stalks th at are 2–4 ft in height. The stalk matures ove r several weeks from the lower to the upper part of the stalk and averages about 2 pounds per stalk. In the ho me garden, "sprouts are said to be sweetest after a good, stiff frost."

Whatever cooking method is employed, care must be taken not to overcook. Overcooking releases the sulphurous smelling glucosinolate and, sinigrin. This is the reason many people profess to dislike Brussels sprouts; only ever having tried them overcooked with the accompanying sulfuric taste and smell. Generally 6–7 minutes boiled or steamed is enough to cook, without overcooking and releasing the sinigrin.

1 comment:

  1. From my MACSAC cookbook:
    Cut brussel sprouts in half (north pole to south), remove tough outer leaves.
    Generously coat a skillet with olive oil
    Sprinkle skillet with salt
    Place brussel sprouts cut side down in skillet, cover with lid.
    Let fry/steam 5 minutes or so, until brown on the bottom
    Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, let caramelize onto the sprouts
    Eat with grated parmesan