From the farm…

by Gardener Rosy Smit

DSC_0127Oh, the Brussel Sprout…

People either love them or hate them. According to a 2008 research study by Heinz, Brussel sprouts top the “most-hated” vegetable list in America. That said, Brussels sprouts are an incredibly nutritious and disease-fighting vegetable, the key is to not overcook them. If prepared correctly, they are wonderfully delicious…

Brussel sprouts are in the Brassica family (with broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage) and are packed with Vitamin K, which is essential to bone health. They contain high levels of glucosinolates, which stimulate the body’s natural detoxification system and are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which helps to maintain a healthy immune system. They are an excellent source of Vitamin A as well as iron, magnesium, selenium, folic acid and fiber.

We plant our seeds at the end of June and then transplant the baby plants out into the Camp Korey garden in late July. They grow all summer and into the fall, and then typically are harvestable in October through late winter. They grow on a tall stalk and are sweeter tasting after a frost. They are a long season crop and come in a large range of varieties, from tiny marbles to big golf ball varieties.

Brussel sprouts on the stalk are usually better value than purchasing loose sprouts, due to the labour involved in harvesting the buds. They also last significantly longer on the stalk than loose, when kept in the fridge.

The key to cooking Brussel sprouts is to NOT over-cook them, as the sulfur compounds (which taste bitter) go through chemical reactions which cause bitter compounds and stinky flavors.

To the table…

by Chef Tana Mielke

Although I am very adventurous when it comes to food, I grew up in a family of very picky eaters. Never did a brussel spout enter my childhood home, nor garlic, onion, kale… you see where I am going.

It was October of my junior year at college. I was 18 and staying with my aunt in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. She had just finished preparing a salmon loaf (from a can, because salmon do not exist in the Midwest), when she reached in to the freezer, pulled out a frozen bag of something, placed the contents in a glass baker, added salt and pepper, covered it with film and placed it in the microwave. Three minutes later, “Beep, beep, beeeep!” We sat down for “supper” and as I looked at the slightly smelly, yellow-green-gray globes, I asked, “What are these?” She had grown up with my father, so she wasn’t terribly surprised that I had never seen or tasted a brussel spout before and encouraged me to try one. I loved them! Even in their packaged, frozen, over-cooked state… I loved them.

Since then, I have become a lot more particular regarding how my brussel sprouts are prepared and I can completely understand why so many people dislike them. Whether they are over-cooked or being served out of season (do not eat brussel sprouts in August), there is a lot that can go wrong with these vitamin-rich, delicious “mini cabbages.”

There are many ways to prepare brussel sprouts: steamed, roasted, grilled, sautéed, blanched or even raw. Many culinarians believe that you should blanch and shock the vegetable before further treatment, such as roasting or sautéing, but I don’t believe that it is really necessary. This does help preserve color and will make cooking them slightly more fool-proof, but you lose valuable flavor and nutrients during this process. Just remember that heat carries over and you will be fine.

This recipe is a crowd-pleaser and even the most committed brussel sprout haters have been known to enjoy it. Feel free to omit the bacon, as I often do, for a yummy vegetarian side dish. Add some duck confit for a little rustic decadence or simply top with fresh grated parmigiano reggiano or other hard, salty cheese. Delicious served with your thanksgiving feast or with a nice grilled pork chop or roast chicken.

Warm Autumn Brussel Sprout Salad

1 lb small Brussel Sprouts (trimmed and washed, halve or quarter if they are large)
2 small-medium Leeks (green tops and roots removed, sliced on the bias and washed)
¼ lb Bacon (diced)
4 cloves Garlic
¼ C Dried Cranberries
1 T Fresh Thyme (minced)
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
½ tsp Aleppo Pepper (optional)
¼ C Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 Green Apple (julienned and treated with lemon juice)
1 T Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

1. Heat saute pan over medium heat, add 1 T olive oil and bacon
2. Brown bacon and remove bits from fats, add leeks to pan, season and soften
3. Add garlic, cranberries and thyme and aleppo. Set mixture aside.
4. Wipe out saute pan with a paper towel and return to stove on high heat.
5. When pan is VERY hot, add olive oil followed by brussel sprouts.
6. Carmelize brussel sprouts for 1-2 minutes, season with salt
7. Add back leek mixture to brussel sprouts and saute for 30 seconds more.
8. Hit with a splash of apple cider vinegar.
9. Toss with Bacon Bits, pumpkin seeds and apples.
10. Serve and Enjoy!