Brussels sprouts are the number one underrated vegetables, with beets coming in a close second. Of course, I love them both, perhaps because they are perfect vehicles for bacon. Or that they are both nutritional powerhouses. It wouldn’t be beyond me to love them because they are both beautiful: brussel sprout plants are so fun, and beet puree – how can you not love that color??
This year, I planted 4 stalks. All survived the aphid attacks on the brassicas, though one plant’s growth was stunted because it was sowed into what became a rather shady spot. The sprouts grow just above the leaves. You can harvest the sprouts when they are just ¼ inch in diameter or you can wait until they are larger. Since the sprouts don’t uniformly grow at the same rate, its best to harvest just the ones that are the desired size. While the whole stalk makes an impressive presentation at the Farmer’s market, it’s not the most practical.
My favorite preparation is roasted with bacon and horseradish, though the olive oil roasted brussels sprouts at Toro fall into a close second. Blanch the sprouts first in salted boiling water and toss with rendered bacon. Roast the brussel sprouts with the bacon in a 450 oven until the sprouts are tender. Toss with prepared horseradish.