No need to hold your nose while eating these Brussels sprouts

I love Brussels sprouts.

I love them pickled, roasted, steamed or boiled, each one a perfect bite of sultry, cruciferous deliciousness.

But many, many people do not feel the same. These unfortunates likely were tortured as children by having to choke down overcooked, olive green, smelly, mushy orbs that were called Brussels sprouts but really have absolutely nothing in common with Brussels sprouts that are properly cooked.

If you are served a Brussels sprout that has turned the color of a Boy Scout tent, it’s best not to eat it. Just turn away and don’t look back. A well cooked Brussels sprout is bright green and tender, but not soft.

When buying, you want them to be on the small side and the tiny heads should be tightly closed, like mini cabbages but darker green. If you’re going to cook them whole, slice the dried bit off the bottom then poke an X into the stem end with the tip of a sharp knife. The outer leaves cook much more quickly than the inside does. The X allows for more even cooking by providing a path for the heat to get inside.

When preparing them for roasting, after trimming the ends, I cut each sprout in half the long way, through the stem. I throw the halves into a roasting pan, coat them with olive oil and add some salt and pepper, then pop them into a 450 degree oven. Check on them after about 5 minutes, giving them a stir. Depending on their size, cook them another 5 or 10 minutes, stirring as needed, until they’re tender. Roasting really brings out the nuttiness of the sprouts, almost turning them into a whole new vegetable.

In my collection, this recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Mustard Sauce is a copy of a long ago newspaper clipping. It doesn’t say where the original recipe came from but a few Googles led me to believe it is from a cookbook called “Thanksgiving Dinner” by Anthony Dias Blue and Kathryn K. Blue.

The rich tanginess of the two kinds of mustard and two vinegars, combined with the sweet, earthiness of the maple syrup really compliment the Brussels sprouts. If you don’t want 10 servings, cut the amount of sprouts in half but make the full amount of sauce. It keeps in the refrigerator for quite a while and allows you to make the same recipe again, a couple of weeks later, with half the work already done.

The Blues call for boiling the sprouts, which I very often do. After they're cooked, I cut them in half before I dress them to make for daintier bites and for more surface area to collect that amazing sauce. You also can roast the sprouts and dress them with this sauce. Either way, they’re delicious.

Brussels Sprouts With Maple-Mustard Sauce

Makes 10 servings

4 cups (2 pounds) Brussels sprouts

2½ teaspoons salt (divided)

2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar (I use rice wine vinegar)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup (only the real stuff will do)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ cup olive oil

Trim the Brussels sprouts by cutting an X in the stalk end and removing any loose or wilted outer leaves. Drop the sprouts into a large pot of rapidly boiling water. Add 2 teaspoons salt and bring the water back to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain thoroughly, letting the sprouts cool for a few minutes. (After they’ve cooled a bit, I cut them in half through the stem end.)

Meanwhile, mix the vinegars, syrup, mustards, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk thoroughly. Slowly add the oil, a few drops at a time, in a thin, steady stream, as you whisk. The mixture will get thicker and lighter in color as the oil and vinegar emulsify.

Add the Brussels sprouts to the bowl containing the sauce. Toss well to coat each sprout. Serve at room temperature.

Original recipe from “Thanksgiving Dinner” by Anthony Dias Blue and Kathryn K. Blue.

Jill Blanchette works at night at The Day. Share comments or recipes with her at

Reader Comments


For a really super bowl, start with Cincinnati Sans Carne

This vegetarian take on a traditional, spicy Cincinnati Chili uses mushrooms instead of meat, and spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti.

North African spices, heat add zip to butternut stew

The gentle thickening with cornstarch created a wonderfully silky sauce, and the squash retained it shape and texture.

Pork pie recipe forges a new path to a delicious tradition

This quest was passed to my brothers who, in turn, tried their hand at creating that most elusive, perfect meat pie, the one from our childhood, the one to which all others must be compared.

World peace just may start with pie

If John Kerry called and asked me to help end Syria's civil war, I'd bring this coconut custard pie.

Sausage gravy: It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

My favorite recipe calls for an extra shot of poultry seasoning and hits of nutmeg and hot sauce in the gravy, suspending the sausage in a creamy, decadent blanket of Christmas.

Aunt Iris' penuche — brown sugar fudge that makes one sweet gift

With a butterscotch and subtle maple flavor, it's so decadently sweet, really just a lump of sugar studded with toasty walnuts, but it's so delicious.

In Turkey Tetrazzini, Thanksgiving leftovers go from burden to blessing

It combines common holiday leftovers with some delicious add-ins to create a dish you can freeze, then, sometime in January, bake and enjoy the delayed fruits of your labor.

New meets old in a pie made with squash and oatmeal

Butternut squash pie seems to have fallen by the wayside but when I was a kid, we never ate pumpkin pie. It was always squash.

Feeding the wild vegetarian at your holiday table

You don't have to shove tradition aside entirely, you just have to add some delicious food that doesn't contain meat, and some other great meatless dishes that don't call for dairy products.