The Much-Maligned Sprout

I sing to thee of a humble sprout, made delectable with darkened butter, tart lemon, and toasted almonds!

Most everyone has bitten into an over-cooked Brussels sprout, ripe with glucosinolate sinigrin, which–according to Wikipedia–gives off a sulfurous odor and is probably the reason behind the widespread dislike of the poor little cabbage.  But cooked correctly, the Brussels sprout is a vegetable of an epic nature (hence my earlier invocation).  Indeed, Fanny Merritt Farmer includes Brussels Sprouts with Curry in her cookbook, Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent, as an aid for diabetes.  Judging by the numerous recipes for Brussels sprouts available from the early twentieth century in Google books, they were quite popular.  In most of my mid-century cookbooks, nary a Brussels sprout is to be found, which makes me wonder if many 1950s cooks avoided them because of bad childhood experiences!

Then, as I mentioned earlier this week, I found my New York Times Cookbook.  Claiborne has two recipes for Brussels Sprouts: one with caraway seeds and another with browned butter.  He suggests that Brussels sprouts should be cooked whole, with a gash in the stem.  I prefer slicing the sprouts ever-so-finely instead, so my take on his recipe reflects that. And apologies for the horrible photo — the whole bunch was a little off-color, even with correction.

Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Toasted Almonds

(adapted from the 1961 New York Times Cookbook)

1 pound Brussels sprouts, finely sliced

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Place almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 10 min.

2.  Slowly melt 2 tbsp. of butter in frying pan and cook until just starting to brown.

2. Add olive oil and Brussels sprouts and sauté for 3-4 minutes.

3. Remove Brussels sprouts from heat and add lemon juice, almonds, salt and pepper.

Et voilà! We had ours with some halibut poached in white wine and lemon juice.  It was a wonderful dinner!

Go visit Foodie Friday for more yummy recipes!


  1. Reply
    Gwen March 25, 2010

    This is probably dumb, but do the recipes ever include nutritional information

    • Reply
      alison March 25, 2010

      None of the vintage cookbooks I have give any nutritional information. This recipe is probably not too bad, except for the butter. Honestly, you could probably use half of the butter and it would still taste good!

  2. Reply
    Kate March 25, 2010

    This sounds wonderful. I will be giving it a try! It would be perfect with Chicken Piccata!!

  3. Reply
    gollum March 26, 2010

    I dearly love sprouts and I’m thrilled to see someone writing about its virtues. The recipe is a keeper. Now I’m craving sprouts!
    Have a great weekend.

    • Reply
      alison March 26, 2010

      @Gollum: We need to write about the underserved vegetables like kale and sprouts! 🙂 Have a good weekend!

  4. Reply
    Red Velvet Confections March 26, 2010

    My daughter and I were in the farmer’s market last weekend and as we walked passed the brussel sprouts she asked what they were. I was a little surprised and then realized she didn’t know what they were because I’ve never cooked them. I’ve eaten them as a child, did not like them and haven’t looked back. Now, I’m wondering if I should buy some, try your recipe, and let her judge for herself…she would probably love them!

    • Reply
      alison March 26, 2010

      @Red Velvet: If she likes cabbage, I would bet she’d like these! 🙂

  5. Reply
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~ March 27, 2010

    Hi there, I guess I chose the wrong week because I’m not a sprout lover. Only vegi I won’t eat. I’ll be back next week.

    The Wilton book you have in your Etsy shop brings back memories. When I was in high school I had a cake baking business I ran out of our kitchen. This lead me to a career as a cake decorator and this book was in my collection. Thanks and have a great weekend.

    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  6. Reply
    Mrs. Jen B March 28, 2010

    I have to say, I don’t have good memories of sprouts but at the same time I am drawn to them in all of these wonderful recipes I’ve seen – the one you’ve just shared, and ones featuring bacon and all kinds of wonderful things. I may have to let go of the past! haha

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      alison March 28, 2010

      @Jen: I’m sure these would be even better with bacon. 🙂 I am really learning to love sprouts, although it’s taken me quite a while!

      @Ahrisha: Well, please come back in a few days, especially if you have a sweet tooth! (The next recipe on the docket is a lemony dessert!)

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