By Jenn Fillenworth
Brussels sprouts seem to be one of those polarizing vegetables that you either love or hate. These tiny little cabbages are highly versatile and no, you do not always need to add bacon to make them taste better. Bacon is often a go-to for many because it provides fat for sautéing and plenty of delicious flavor and texture for many dishes. But bacon isn’t for everyone but Brussels sprouts are, so here are a few ways to make Brussels sprouts taste just as good without it.
Brussels Sprouts Prep 101
Brussels sprouts are actually one of the simplest vegetables to prep. Simply cut off a portion of the fibrous bottom stem and remove any outer leaves that are too damaged or browning. From here, you can leave them whole or cut them in halves, quarters, or even shred them for a slaw. Let’s take a look at some ways to spice up your Brussels sprouts game for the better.
Shredded Brussels sprouts are one of the best ways to prepare them. I love this method because you can eat them raw or cooked. The best way to shred your brussels is by using a mandolin or a food processor with the shredder attachment. For the mandolin, simply run the bulb down the mandolin to shred, it’s best to wear a cut-proof glove when doing this. You can also just use a sharp knife to thinly slice your brussels. For this method, I slice them lengthwise then put the flat side down on the cutting board then proceed to cut into thin strips widthwise. For cold recipes, I use my shredded brussels in slaws with other thinly sliced vegetables or even in salads. For my hot recipes, I like making vegetable tacos with sautéed shredded brussels and blacks beans. It’s so delicious and surprisingly hearty.
The Sauce is Boss
Roasting Brussels sprouts is one of the best ways to highlight those beautiful natural flavors. Take it one step further by creating a delicious sauce to go on top of them. One of my weeknight staples is tossing them with olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, honey, salt, and pepper. I roast that in a 400-degree oven for 20-25 minutes and they’re absolute perfection. I love how some of the leaves get crispy while the interior is nice and tender. Depending on the size of the sprouts, I either leave them whole of slice them in half lengthwise.
Looking for another great saucy recipe? Try this one: Miso-Glazed Brussels Sprouts.
Try the “Mix-In” Method
Adding some delicious mix-in options with your Brussels sprouts is a great way to create more complex flavor profiles and achieve different textures. Most of the mix-ins I utilize are fruits, vegetables, and even roasted nuts. Some of my favorites are sliced apples, sweet potatoes, grapes, and pecans. Since brussels sprouts are naturally savory, adding in a slightly sweeter option helps to create that delicious sweet and savory combination we love so much. Since we are boosting the flavor with other fruit and vegetables, this will help us cut back on added sugars and sodium that we tend to rely on to boost the flavor of our sprouts. You can utilize this method by roasting your ingredients together or by sautéing them on the stovetop. Try out the mix-in method by making these Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Pecans.