If there’s any one group of vegetables deserving praise, it’s the cruciferous family, which includes Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, Swiss chard, kale, rutabagas and turnips. All these vegetables bear four-petal flowers that resemble the shape of a cross. Tasty and versatile, they pack a serious punch nutritionally, and best of all, they really shine this time of year. Crucifers are rich in antioxidants, a great source of fiber and full of vitamins such as A and C. Research increasingly suggests these vegetables are valuable allies in the fight against many cancers.
For those of us who love the piquancy of bitter flavors, Brussels sprouts are a tremendous pleasure. Roasted or sautéed, paired with bacon or butter, these tiny cabbage-like vegetables – probably developed in 15th-century Belgium – add a sophisticated note to the menu. If you decide to sauté, blanch first and then introduce them to the skillet; blanching produces a milder flavor. Currently, Brussels sprouts are having a moment – here are three easy ways to incorporate them into meal plans this season:
As a Salad
Quarter unpeeled redskin potatoes and simmer for 2 minutes before adding whole Brussels sprouts. Simmer an additional 8 minutes, then drain and toss with chopped ham, minced green onion and a dash of apple cider vinegar. Top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
As a Pasta Dish
Roast halved Brussels sprouts, quartered small onions, and halved carrots at 375° for 30 minutes. Toss with just-cooked pasta, a splash of balsamic vinegar and crumbled feta cheese.
As a Gratin
Simmer 10 whole Brussels sprouts for 5 minutes, then coarsely chop and mix with ¾ cup Greek yogurt, ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1 clove of minced garlic. Gently press into a greased 9-inch glass pie plate, sprinkle additional Parmesan on top, and bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until top is brown and bubbly.