Why we should make peace with the much-overlooked Brussel sprout and allow it to grace our plates year-round…

This hardy, frost-surviving winter vegetable – of the brassica genus – is invariably served on Christmas day as part of the all-important festive meal. But why, when a lone carrot or solitary roasty is all that remains of the other Yuletide veg, will you always find enough Brussel sprouts left to fuel a hot-air balloon?

We should be eating as many of these vitamin-C loaded, cancer-preventative (they are rich in glucosinolate), cholesterol-lowering, fibre-full little lovelies as possible. We should be grating their green goodness on our morning cereal. Instead, we continue to shun them, making them feel like the unwanted guest at the office Christmas party.

So what’s the root of this almost universal aversion? A quick office poll here revealed that the general consensus deems them smelly, unpleasantly strong and altogether enough to put you off your dinner. I like them. Granted, they don’t have an appetite-inducing aroma, but I think they taste just dandy thank you very much.

They don’t if you over-cook them. Maybe that’s the problem. Misrepresented by years of being served as boiled-to-death mush, the sprout’s true flavour and texture has been long-forgotten to the point of near-myth status. So, what should we be doing to them? Well, steaming (to retain all that smashing nutritional value) and serving with a honey and mustard dressing; shredding and cooking with bacon pieces; boiling them in the ham water (at Christmas); concealing them in bubble and squeak; making them into gratin with plenty of Parmesan; drenching with sage butter and sprinkling with chestnuts – very festive. Alternatively, simply stir-fry with ginger; mix with sliced apple and juniper berries, or leeks and lemon juice; or just steam and serve with plenty of lovely hot butter.

However you decide to serve them, give these healthy veggies another go – perhaps try and see them as cute miniature cabbages. They deserve a second chance – they’re only trying to help.

Sally Webb

Sally'’s favourite things include Sunday roasts after long country walks, BBC adaptations of Jane Austen novels, all things pasta and her dog Tiggy. Sally is currently sporting a rather large ‘preggalump’ and has not just eaten all the pies.

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