Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts sum up the festive season like no other vegetable. They’re traditionally eaten on Christmas Day, but are in season from October to March.
Named after the Belgian capital where they’re believed to have been popular during the 16th century, these leafy green vegetables are part of the Brassica family, which makes them relatives of cabbage, kale and broccoli.
They’re high in fibre and just eight Brussels sprouts contribute to one portion of your five a day.
We’ve got some top tips on how to buy, prepare and cook them to perfection.
How to buy and prepare
Choose bright green sprouts that are firm and small (and thus sweeter) with tightly packed leaves. It’s better to buy them loose rather than in a pre-packed bag so that you can check each one and avoid ones that are turning yellow. It’s even better if you can buy them still attached to their stalks, as they’ll stay fresher for longer.
If the sprouts are still on their stalk, twist each one off. Remove any loose leaves and wash and trim the base. There’s no need to make an incision – cutting into small Brussels sprouts could lead to them overcooking.
Loose sprouts will keep in the fridge for up to four days. If you buy them still attached to their stalks, you can keep them attached until you plan to use them for up to a week.
How to cook
Sprouts can be cooked in many ways or even enjoyed raw.
- To roast, place in a roasting tray and toss with 1 tsp oil, season, then cook in the oven for around 30 minutes. You could add some fresh chopped rosemary for extra flavour, or for a Christmas touch, roast with some halved vacuum-packed chestnuts.
- To boil, put in a pan of lightly salted boiling water and cook, uncovered, for 5–10 minutes, checking regularly as it’s easy to overcook sprouts. Once drained, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to the saucepan, season with black pepper and serve immediately.
- To stir-fry, halve or slice finely, coat in 1 tsp oil and cook for around 10 minutes.
- Shred leftover sprouts on Boxing Day to add to a crisp, winter salad.
Recipes for you to try:
Super sprouts – a souped-up version of Brussels sprouts, ideal for Christmas or any roast dinner.
Brussels sprout gratin – Brussels sprouts baked in a light cheese sauce and topped with Parmesan.
Brussels sprout and bacon hash with poached egg – a satisfying dish and a great way to use up leftover sprouts.