Roasting Brussels sprouts is one of the best ways to enjoy the vegetable—it sweetens their nutty goodness and tames their bitter flavor. However, these tiny cabbages can be enjoyed in many other ways. In fact, you can successfully use the same recipes for similar vegetables, including escarole, cauliflower, baby bok choy, broccoli, and rapini. So, borrowing from classic recipes for these bitter greens and cruciferous cousins, here are some ideas for enjoying Brussels sprouts in new, yet very familiar ways. All of them are utterly delicious. The season for fresh Brussels sprouts runs from late fall to early spring. If you want to extend the season, here's a downloadable sheet for methods of preserving Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts salad with nuts and raisins: Wash, trim the stem, remove the outer leaves, and then thinly slice about 1 pound Brussels sprouts. Place prepared sprouts in a bowl and sprinkle with ¼ cup raisins and ¼ cup toasted nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, or pinenuts). Prepare honey-mustard vinaigrette: Whisk together 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard, 1 teaspoon honey, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil until well blended. Slowly whisk in another 2-4 tablespoons olive oil. Pour dressing over the salad ingredients and toss until evenly coated.
Brussels sprouts à la Polonaise (“Polish Style“): Recipes prepared à la polonaise traditionally refer to a hot vegetable served with a topping of breadcrumbs browned in butter. Modern recipes often add chopped hard-cooked egg, parsley, and bacon bits. All of these pair nicely with a hot bowl of Brussels sprouts. For the topping, prepare 1 large, hard-cooked egg, finely chopped or grated; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley; and 2 slices thick bacon (2 ounces) , diced and cooked until crisp; and 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs sautéed in 2 tablespoons hot butter. Wash, trim the stem, and remove the outer leaves from about 2 pounds Brussels sprouts. Leave 1-inch sprouts whole and cut larger sprouts into halves or quarters. Steam or boil Brussels sprouts in salted water 2-4 minutes, or until just tender. Transfer cooked sprouts to a warm serving bowl. Sprinkle over it the toasted breadcrumbs, chopped egg, parsley, and bacon.
Asian-style Brussels sprouts: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet. Add 1 crushed clove garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes or until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the garlic. Add 1 tablespoon water or sherry wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce or oyster sauce, a pinch of sugar, and a few grindings of white pepper. Stir until blended and turn off the heat. Wash, trim the stem, and remove the outer leaves from about 2 pounds Brussels sprouts. Leave small (1-inch) sprouts whole and cut larger sprouts into halves or quarters. Steam or boil prepared sprouts in salted water 2-4 minutes, or until just tender. Transfer cooked sprouts to a warm serving bowl. Drizzle with the warm sauce.
Brussels sprouts gratin: Wash, trim the stem, and remove the outer leaves from about 1 pound Brussels sprouts and cut into quarters. Steam or boil prepared sprouts in salted water 2-4 minutes, or until just tender; drain in a colander. Preheat oven to 400°F and butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Spread the cooked sprouts in the buttered dish and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, salt, freshly ground black pepper. Pour ½ cup heavy (whipping) cream evenly over the sprouts. Finally, sprinkle with ½ cup grated Gruyere cheese (or other medium hard nutty cheese such as Emmanthaler, Gouda, or Swiss) and ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs and dot with 2 tablespoons butter cut in small cubes. Bake gratin for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.
Pasta with Brussels sprouts and sausage: Cook ½ pound fusilli or shell pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente; drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Wash, trim the stem, and remove the outer leaves from about 1 pound Brussels sprouts and cut into halves or quarters. Remove the casings from 2 medium links (about ½ pound) Italian sausage, and sauté in a large skillet over medium high heat for 5-8 minutes, or until no longer pink; stir sausage as it cooks to break it up into small pieces. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a plate. Sauté prepared Brussels sprouts in the same skillet for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sprouts begin to brown. Add 1 minced garlic clove and stir for 1 minute. Add reserved pasta water, bring to a simmer and cook another 2-4 minutes, or until sprouts are tender. Add the drained pasta and sausage to the skillet; stir or toss until heated through. Serve pasta sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.