Brussels sprouts are delicious roasted, steamed, or sliced thinly and added to salads. Here are tips on how to choose the best Brussels sprouts and prepare them at home.
In the market, fresh Brussels sprouts should be displayed under refrigeration. If kept at room temperature, their leaves will turn yellow quickly. Although Brussels sprouts are commonly sold in pint or quart tubs, it’s easier to choose sound sprouts if you can select them individually from a bulk display. Choose Brussels sprouts of comparable size so that they will cook evenly.
A bright green color is the best guide to freshness and good condition. Yellowed or wilted leaves are a sure sign of age or mishandling. Old Brussels sprouts also have a strong, cabbagey odor. Avoid puffy or soft sprouts. Instead, choose small, firm, compact ones with unblemished leaves. Tiny holes or soot-like smudges on the leaves may indicate the presence of worms or plant lice. The stem ends should be clean and white.
How to store Brussels sprouts at home
Don’t wash or trim Brussels sprouts before storing them, except for removing any yellow or wilted outer leaves. Don’t remove fresh outer leaves, since these contain the most nutrients. If you’ve purchased Brussels sprouts in a cellophane-covered container, take off the wrapping and examine the sprouts, then return them to the container, re-cover with the cellophane, and refrigerate. If you buy loose Brussels sprouts, store them in a perforated plastic bag.
How to prepare Brussels sprouts
Drop the Brussels sprouts into a basin of lukewarm water and leave them for 10 minutes. This easy step will eliminate any insects hidden in the leaves. Then rinse the sprouts in fresh water. Trim the stem ends, but not quite flush with the bottoms of the sprouts, or the outer leaves will fall off during cooking.
Pull off any wilted or blemished outer leaves. Many cooks cut an “X” in the base of each sprout, which helps the heat penetrate the solid core so that it cooks as quickly as the leaves.
6 Brussels sprouts recipe ideas
1. Whole sprouts are perfect for shish kebabs. Steam them briefly, thread on skewers other vegetables and with meat, chicken, or tofu. Then grill.
2. Halve or slice Brussels sprouts, steam, then toss with vinaigrette or other salad dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature as a side dish or salad.
3. Boil Brussels sprouts until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Then cut in half, toss in olive oil and breadcrumbs, and broil until the outer leaves are golden and crisp.
4. Steam small Brussels sprouts and roast chestnuts separately. Then stir the two together in a skillet with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar to glaze them.
5. Cut young, raw sprouts into thin lengthwise slices, and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese for a fresh salad.
6. Cut Brussels sprouts in half—or thirds if particularly large—and roast them at 400° with chopped onions and olive oil for 40 minutes. Try adding sliced fennel for a seasonal treat.