Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Wikipedia says that “Brussels sprouts as we now know them were grown possibly as early as the 13th century in what is now Belgium.” And that they spread to the northern parts of Europe. No wonder my parents liked them – they were both of German origin, and loved all the strong tasting cruciferous vegetables.  Brussels sprouts? I can take ‘em or leave ’em, and mostly I’d usually leave ‘em, especially when my mother cooked them, as she did most green vegetables, until they were the color of a pallid pea soup. Bright green veggies were a definite no-no.

Up until recent years I cooked Brussels sprouts according to an amazing recipe I found eons ago in the Sunday magazine from the New York Times. It was a recipe for a hot Brussels sprouts salad.  What with the onions and olive oil and vinegar to accompany the shredded sprouts I could manage to eat a portion, generously giving the rest to my husband.  

In recent years I have sometimes managed to find what I call “baby” Brussels sprouts in the market.  These babies have not lived long enough to develop too strong a taste. Steamed and served with salt and pepper and a generous amount of butter, they were pretty good.  Just at the beginning of this month I found a stalk of baby Brussels sprouts at Trader Joe’s.  The price was terrific, and I could see that they were nice babies, so I grabbed a stalk. (I’d once before purchased Brussels sprouts on a stalk – I should have known better because it was obvious that they were mature adult sprouts. I hate to say it, but a lot of those became compost. I can eat Brussels sprouts salad only so often.)
I figured the sprouts on the stalk were worth about three suppers for us, so I first snapped off enough for one night. I began snapping at the bottom of the stalk, and was left with some bare stalk and the remaining sprouts. I really didn’t want to give the stalk “house room” in my refrigerator.  Looking around I realized I could treat the stalk as a flower stem – that’s sort of what it is – so I cut off some of it and put it in water in one of the little pitchers in my kitchen.  We had the first sprouts that evening and they were the best sprouts either of us had ever had. Ever! 

But here’s the point of my essay: twelve days later I discovered that Brussels sprouts stalks will root!  Not only did they keep beautifully, without a lot of yellowing leaves as they would have had in the fridge, but they were still deliciously mild. I harvested another third for that evening’s meal and, truth be known, saved some of the largest ones for that hot Brussels sprouts salad – I think it may be even better with these sprouts.

So - next fall if you see Brussels sprouts on the stalk do get them if they look like babies: an inch or less in diameter.  Then use them from the bottom up and plunk the stem in water to keep your babies bright green and tasty.



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