In season: Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are one of those polarizing vegetables. People either love them or they think they hate them. And yet Brussels sprouts continue to be one of the star vegetables on restaurant menus these days. It’s proof that when diners give them a try, these little miniature cabbages are making converts.

For those who want to buy local, finding Brussels sprouts can be a challenge. Craig Tucker of Tucker Farms in Rome is experimenting with Brussels sprouts this year. “Georgia is a weird climate for growing sprouts. Up north, people can plant them in the middle of summer and harvest right after frost. For us, we planted in the middle of September and we’re just now starting to get some good size sprouts. We hope to have them through the end of February,” he said.

Tucker sells his produce, including the lettuce he grows in his new hydroponic greenhouse, at the Marietta Square Farmers Market on Saturdays as well as through his online store, TuckerFarmsGA.com, with pick up locations in Marietta and Smyrna.

For his first foray into growing Brussels sprouts, Tucker decided to try two different varieties, Churchill and Diablo. One was supposed to mature in 90 days, the other in 120 days, and growing both was meant to allow him to extend the season. By January they both seemed to be maturing at the same time. He’s since seeded a second crop, hoping to extend the harvest until June when the weather turns hot and insects become too much of a problem.

As Brussels sprouts grow, they form a long stalk with sprouts all along the length. As each sprout gets big enough to eat, Tucker harvests them individually. If later he finds the sprouts all maturing at the same time, then shoppers may find whole stalks of sprouts at his booth and available through his online market.

How does he enjoy his Brussels sprouts? “We wash them, cut them in half, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and roast them with olive oil or coconut oil at 400 degrees until they’re a little crispy,” said Tucker.

Like many members of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts are good keepers. Kept at close to 32 degrees, they can hold for up to five weeks. Store them loosely wrapped in a paper or plastic bag in your crisper.

At local farmers markets

Many local farmers markets have closed for the season. However, the Marietta Square, Decatur and Morningside farmers markets continue all year round.

For sale

Vegetables and nuts: arugula, Asian greens, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, collards, dandelion, endive, escarole, fennel, frisee, green garlic, green onions, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mache, mustard greens, pecans, popping corn, radicchio, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, sweet potatoes, turnips and turnip greens, winter squash

From local reports

Thrive’s Brussels Sprouts

Hands on: 15 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

Serves: 1

AJC readers Leigh Davis-Turner and Karen Cooper wrote to us singing the praises of Thrive’s roasted Brussels sprouts. “[We] are obsessed with their roasted Brussels sprouts! At least twice a week for the past five weeks, we’ve order them a la carte. We keep trying other versions from other restaurants in the area, but these are the best by far. We think it might be length of time they roast them and the type of oil that they use. Can you get them to share the recipe? Thanks!”

Thrive’s chef Justin Cox was happy to share the recipe and explained they use a blend of 75% canola oil with 25% extra virgin olive oil to cook the sprouts. He stresses a flat bottomed skillet is essential and he prefers cast iron.

Oil for sauteing

1 cup Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, cut in half

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add just enough oil to film the bottom of the pan, about 1 tablespoon. Place sprouts cut side down in a single layer. Discard any loose leaves. Sear sprouts until they are golden brown, then turn. Cook until seared on both sides, about 5 minutes total.

When sprouts have browned, season to taste, then add vinegar and continue to cook until vinegar has reduced by half. Add chicken stock, butter, honey and pepper flakes and continue to cook until sauce has reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes. When sprouts are tender, they are ready to serve.

Per serving: 307 calories (percent of calories from fat, 69), 6 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 26 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 31 milligrams cholesterol, 34 milligrams sodium.

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