Brussel sprouts all but disappear during the summer, but tend to reemerge a few weeks before Thanksgiving.
They’re one of those seasonal veggies that prefer avoiding the summer heat, thriving through the late fall and into the spring.
Growing on about four-foot tall thick stalks, Brussels sprouts are grown in cluster form from top to bottom. They’re one of my favorite overall vegetables to consume, and I am quite excited for their official arrival.
Each individual Brussels sprout is composed of tightly compacted overlapping leaves that range from light to dark green in color.
They deliver an earthy flavor with an underlying sweetness. I find them best when roasted, but also delicious when braised, sautéed or enjoyed in raw preparations as well. They can also be shredded and sautéed in butter to enjoy as a nice side.
The smaller, younger Brussels sprouts tend to be slightly sweeter with a more palatable flavor than those more fully matured on the stalks.
Slow-roasting Brussels sprouts is the most common preparation technique in my home, which assists in removing some of their natural bitterness. I typically just do a simple olive oil, salt and pepper preparation and serve as a warm side dish.
This week I made a more complete roasted Brussels sprouts and carrot dish that can be made in advance of the meal. I incorporated a little crumbled bacon, fresh parsley and chèvre to top it off.
Roasted Brussels Sprout and Carrot Salad
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, base end trimmed and discard a couple layers of outer leaves to clean up (sometimes I will rinse in cold water and dry to remove excess sediment)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half down the middle, then into thin lengthwise strips
1 sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons Olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 strips bacon, cooked until crispy, crumbled
2-3 ounces chèvre (could also used crumbled blue cheese for a stronger cheese presence)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, or cilantro, finely chopped
Aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place Brussels sprouts, carrots and pepper in a mixing bowl. Toss with olive oil and a liberal seasoning of salt and pepper.
On a lightly oiled baking sheet, add Brussels sprouts in a single layer. Then place carrot and pepper slices spread out on top of the Brussels sprouts. Place in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, or until Brussels sprouts are cooked through with a crispy exterior.
Toss cooked vegetables in a serving bowl. Then gently toss in crumbled bacon, fresh herbs and cheese. Finish by drizzling with good quality aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Yield: Serves about 6 sides.