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Organic Raw Green and Purple Brussel Sprouts in bowl , ready for cooking.jpg

Red Brussels Sprouts

They are beautiful, aren't they? If you're lucky to find these in your CSA box, it's usually in the dead of winter, right when you need a shot of color. They are often more purple than red and a little smaller and packed a little looser than the standard brussels sprouts, more like a small head of lettuce. Created by crossing your common brussels sprouts with red cabbage, hence their name, they are less productive and take longer to grow, which is why they are rarely found in supermarkets. They are worthwhile, though, as they are nuttier, sweeter, and more delicate in texture than standard brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are just what they seem, a miniature cruciferous, a tiny cabbage. They originated in Belgium, likely in the 13th century, although they were not popular in their native cuisine. Instead they spread from Belgium to the Netherlands and the Mediterranean, where they were popularized in various parts of Northern Europe before heading abroad. The sprouts grow on the tall stems of the plant, which have large leaves at the top, resembling a miniature palm tree, though they thrive in chilly fall and winter months that would quickly bring down even the heartiest of palms. Yet, though they share the love of cold with

their brethren Cruciferae, brussels sprouts are a much less hearty vegetable than your average cabbage. Whereas cabbage can last in your fridge for up to a month, brussels sprouts will start to turn bitter after only a few days and spoil in a week or two. Cook as soon as you can.

Cooking red brussels sprouts is a little different than cooking standard sprouts.  Green brussels sprouts have tougher leaves and take longer to cook, making roasting an easy and delicious prospect.  But roasting reds can be more difficult, as the outer leaves will burn before the center gets cooked.  We find they are best toasted on the stovetop using the following method:

 

Cut each sprout in half.  In a large fry pan that has a lid, heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium high heat, until hot.  Toast sprouts

Toasted Red Brussels Sprouts/Farm Share to Table

cut side down for 1 minute or until lightly browned.  Remove pan from heat, flip sprouts cut side up, and cover with the lid.  Let cook in the residual heat for 2 minutes, then remove the lid and put brussels sprouts on a plate to cool.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and drizzle with butter and/or a squeeze of lemon juice, and serve.

 

Cooked this way, they retain their color and delicate flavor and are excellent in salads or as a side in dishes where other brussels' strong flavor might overpower.  Wherever you use them, they will brighten your dishes and bring welcome color to your table.

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