You don’t hear much about Brussels Sprout Tops do you? I don’t see many recipes or mentions, they seem to be a forgotten veggie that in my book needs a bit of bigging up. Do you ever see them in your vegetable shops or vegetable boxes? I’m lucky as I grow Brussel Sprouts, and if that fails my local vegetable shop sells them.
They are literally the top or head of the Brussel Sprout, they are part of the Brassica family, and the leaves are usually a lovely deep green, and yes they have the familial cabbage family look and taste.
I only really discovered them when I started to grow my own veggies – when you grow and nurture something from seed you kind of get to the point of wanting to EAT IT ALL, where possible, and only compost what is absolutely necessary. Why waste your efforts? As to why we don’t see them in the shops? Who knows, maybe they are not fashionable, maybe they are considered compost by the commercial growers. What I do know is they are tasty and cheap.
So they are still in season (just) and even better are as cheap as chips. They are also a great option if you only want a small amount of greens, it’s not always feasible to buy a whole cabbage or even a half one. So they are perfect for a meal for one. Which is where I’m at right now. I’m on a mission home to visit my osteopath and doctor and then a speedy turnaround for the next batch of x-rays. Which I’m hoping, no I’ll emphasise that a bit more, HOPING, will show that the fracture is well and truly on the mend.
In the meantime, I’m cooking for 1, and cooking with only 1 working arm / hand, makes for a challenge :)
How to cook Brussel Sprout Tops
Tidy the head up by taking any damaged outer leaves off, cut the stalk off and then remove the tough white stalks from the next few set of leaves. You will find on your Brussels Sprout tops that there are small or even fully formed Brussels Sprouts, cut these off and include them when you roughly chop or slice the Brussels Sprout leaves.
What to do if you can’t get Brussels Sprout heads? Use Brussel Sprouts of course! I like to cook Brussel Sprouts with leeks, but I got back too late to go to the allotment and dig a couple up. If you can get hold of good, locally grown leeks, do and snaffle them! The flavour is so much more intense. But this dish works well with Shallots.
Tip Top Stir Fried Gingery Brussels Sprout Tops
The Taste bit ~
I like the gingeryness of this dish. The ginger really shines through, the heady pungent aroma mixed in with the Brussel Sprouts really lifts the greens from the ordinary to the delicious.
The Ingredients bit ~
- Brussel Sprout Top / Head
- 1 Leek
- 75g Brussels sprouts
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 inch of ginger
- 1 small chilli or 1/2 tsp of dried chilli flakes
For this dish I’m using 1 Brussel Sprouts head which when tidied and chopped makes about 150g, 1 leek, tidied and sliced into rings, about 75 to 100g of Brussels Sprouts with their bottoms cut off, and outer leaves removed and then halved, 1 clove of garlic crushed and chopped a bit, an inch of peeled ginger (normally I’d Julienne it, but right now, it’s been vaguely bashed and chopped using a knife in my left hand – not exactly accurate), and a fresh chilli, (I’m using an Early Yellow home-grown chilli from the freezer) or you could use a dried red chilli crumbled up a bit or chilli flakes. If using a fresh chilli you may want to de-seed it as the ginger adds lots of warmth and heat by itself.
The Cooking bit ~
Heat some olive or vegetable oil in a large frying pan (about a tablespoon) and then gently fry the leeks. When they are starting to go soft add the ginger and garlic, stir and add the sliced Brussels Sprout leaves and the halved Brussel Sprouts. Gently fry them, you want to cook the greens so they are al-dente, the timing totally depends on how fresh your greens are. Basically keep stirring until they are slightly browned but cooked. Sophie Grigson in her Vegetable Bible refers to this as “lazy stirring”. I like the idea of lazy stirring. If the greens start to stick to the bottom add a few drops of water. Now add the chilli and stir it in. Check the taste and add some salt if needed, I like lots of freshly ground black pepper, which I’ve discovered is really hard to do with only 1 working arm, but it’s worth the slooooooow effort.
I just ate this dish on its own. Perfect for a quick winter supper. This amount made a large bowlful and was lovely and filling. For the meat inclined you could add a couple of slices of chopped bacon or some lardons, but I think this is a lovely vegetable dish that sits happily all on its own. I just ate this dish on its own, besides I need a big veggie fix.
Gardening Notes ~
Talking of needing a veggie fix, I need to order some new Brussel Sprout seeds for this year as I’ve run out. Besides this years crop looks like it was worse than the year before. So I need to find a variety that will work for me. The site is windy being so close to the sea, and over the last couple of years has been very dry, we had an exceptionally dry Spring and Autumn this year.
I’ve been looking through the seed catalogues, Evesham Special is a classic, but doesn’t seem to do well for me, so time for a change. Seven Hills Brussels Sprout from Real Seeds is tempting as it “is ideal particularly for those of you who are in more exposed positions, as it has very tight sprouts on shorter, compact, sturdy plants.”; then there is Hastings from Kings Seeds, how could I not be tempted by my home town’s namesake? Unfortunately it’s an F1 but is another good sprout for exposed sites and “The dark green buttons have excellent flavour and keep well on the uniform plants“. Then there is a coloured variety Red Bull, I fancy trying one of the red varieties again, it is described as a “red sprout that deepens in colour as the weather gets colder. Medium sized buttons with better performance than the standard variety Rubine“. How could I not be tempted by colour variation :)