Brussels Sprouts: Cold-Weather Superfood

Popular chef and runner Mark Bittman shares his favourite ways to prepare them.

Packed with immunity-boosting vitamin C and cancer-fighting glucosinolates, Brussels sprouts are among the most powerful cold-weather superfoods. And because they produce sugar in reaction to frost, they taste less bitter now. “We’ve gone from turning them into grey mush to treating them well – slicing, browning and cooking them perfectly,” says cookbook author Mark Bittman, a five-time New York City marathoner (PB: 3:41).



Slaw with Peanuts
Photo: Matt Rainey

Peanuts are a great source of plant protein.

½ cup mayonnaise
¼ fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. sugar
1 ½ lb. shredded sprouts
½ cup sliced scallions
½ cup chopped, roasted peanuts
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1 to 2 Tbsp. fish sauce and 2 tsp. sugar. Toss with 700g shredded sprouts, 1/2 cup sliced green onions, 1/2 cup chopped, roasted peanuts, and 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander. Garnish with more spring onions. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving)
807 kilojoules, 5 g protein, 12 g carb, 4 g fibre, 4 g sugar, 15 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 288 mg sodium



Sprouts with Garlic and Walnuts
Photo: Matt Rainey

Nuts are packed with healthy fat.

¼ cup olive oil
450g trimmed and halved sprouts
5 peeled garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ toasted and chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 200°C. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Layer 450g trimmed and halved sprouts, cut-side down, in pan. Add 5 peeled garlic cloves, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until sprouts begin to brown on bottom, about 7 minutes. Roast in oven, shaking pan every 5 minutes, until sprouts are browned and tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Stir in 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, top with 1/2 cup toasted and chopped walnuts, and serve hot or warm. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving)
1171 kilojoules, 6 g protein, 14 g carb, 5 g fibre, 4 g sugar, 24 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 103 mg sodium



Sprouts and Sage
Photo: Matt Rainey

Stay full with this fibre-rich dish.

4 Tbsp. butter
450g cored, diced apples
450g trimmed and quartered sprouts
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
Parmesan cheese

Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add 450g cored, diced apples and 450g trimmed and quartered sprouts. Stir, cover, and cook on low until apples are tender, 10 minutes. Uncover and add 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage. Cook on high, stirring, until sprouts darken, another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Nutrition Information (per ½-cup serving)
573 kilojoules, 3 g protein, 17 g carbs, 4 g fibre, 9 g sugar, 8 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 67 mg sodium



Braised and Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Photo: Matt Rainey

“Sometimes I like to brown Brussels sprouts a bit, using this recipe, and keep them whole because there is less of a tendency to overcook and they look great.”

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
450g Brussels sprouts, trimmed
½ cup or more stock, white wine, or water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine the butter, Brussels sprouts, and stock in a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers; cook until the sprouts are just tender, 5 to 10 minutes, checking once or twice and adding liquid as needed.

Uncover and raise the heat to boil off all the liquid so that the vegetables become glazed and eventually browned, about 3 minutes. Resist the urge to stir them frequently; just let them sizzle until golden and crisp, then shake the pan and loosen them to roll them over. It’s okay if some sides are more well done than others. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving)
518 kilojoules, 4 g protein, 10 g carbs, 4 g fibre, 2 g sugar, 9 g fat, 5.5 g saturated fat, 136 mg sodium



Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Figs
Photo: Matt Rainey

“This stir-fry-like dish is very straightforward, very simple – and guaranteed to make a Brussels sprouts lover out of anyone. The bacon and sprouts cooking together smells like autumn, and their taste is balanced with the sweetness of the figs and the acidity from the balsamic.”

2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 slices bacon, chopped
450g Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed
1 cup dried figs, stemmed and quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, or more to taste

Put a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, then bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, put sprouts through feed tube of a food processor fitted with a slicing attachment and shred. (You can also do this with a sharp knife.)

Add sprouts, figs, and ¼ cup water to pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper, turn heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until sprouts and figs are nearly tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until any remaining water evaporates, another 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar, season to taste, and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving)
610 kilojoules, 4 g protein, 17 g carb, 4 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 123 mg sodium

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