Named after Brussels where they were cultivated and grew in popularity in the sixteenth century, Brussels sprouts can be a tiny treasure trove of autumn.
These mini cabbages sprout from a central trunk, flourishing in colder climes, and in New Zealand this is Ohakune and Oamaru.
More exciting flavours and new varieties have seen their popularity soar in recent years, particularly as a hero in a salad or a hearty vegetable side. Sprouts are low in calories, yet high in fibre and packed full of vitamins and minerals. In fact, there is more Vitamin C in Brussels sprouts than in an orange!
Brussels sprouts are heavily seasonal, starting around April with the season winding up in October, while kalettes have a shorter season, June through to August.
Respected food writer Nigel Slater believes “sprouts are the underrated stalwarts of the vegetable patch”. Deemed by some as the ‘humble hipster’, Brussels sprouts have emerged on more and more menus in recent years. Prepared using modern techniques, their intense pungency is being matched with robust flavours like pancetta, blue cheese, hazelnuts or soy caramel. To counteract any bitterness,
be sure to dress your Brussels with punchy, zingy acidic partners like balsamic vinegar or mustard.
Blanch quickly then sauté to caramelise. Or try roasting to bring out the best in sprouts. Get out your mandolin and shred finely for a fresh seasonal alternative to a traditional slaw with parsley, lemon, EVOO and fine Parmesan.
Kalettes are more versatile and can be sautéed, roasted, grilled or eaten raw. Try covering the kalettes in salt, oil, Parmesan cheese and a generous amount of garlic, before roasting them in the oven for about five minutes, then add a squeeze of lemon and a sumac pistachio spice mix to serve.
While green is what most people think when it comes to Brussels sprouts, they also come in purple varieties too. They are a much sweeter tasting heirloom variety than regular green Brussels sprouts. They also retain their purple colour when cooked. Purple Brussels sprouts will add a splash of rich colour to slaws, sautés, braises or roasted with other vegetables.
Kalettes are a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale. They were originally called Flower Sprouts but later renamed Kalettes when it was decided kale was more appealing than Brussels sprouts.
Where traditional Brussels sprouts have tightly packed leaves, Kalettes have attractive frilly-layered, curvy-crevissed leaves that enclose the sprout.