Boing Said Zebedee and all about Brussel Sprout Tops

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.

BrusselSprouts (5)

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.

Brussel Sprouts_05_01_13 (4) - CopyI 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 🙂



  • Ahh, there’s one I’d love to try – I’ve never grown sprouts, and we love them! Brassicas are tough up here; lots of pest issues.
    Youre recipe sounds divine!

    • pests and brassicas seem to be made for each other. Here it’s aphids, butterflies, slugs and snails and if not netted, pigeons. I’ve cut down on the brassicas I gorw simply because of the effort involved. I’m trying to be selective, but it doesn’t always work as I love my greens.

  • Lazy stirring is good! This sounds lovely, I am only recently converted to anything vaguely brussel sprouty flavoured but think I would especially enjoy this with all the garlic, ginger and chili flavours! Do hope the medical stuff goes ok for you.

  • Brussel sprouts are the vegetable that they LOVE or they HATE. i love them and i also love your photos of the ice! wonderful.. c

  • I’m firmly in the brussels sprouts made with bacon camp. It’s not that I dislike brussels sprouts but I do love that bacon flavoring. I do like your use of ginger & leeks here, though, so I just might be willing to forego the bacon — once, anyway. I hope your upcoming travels go well and end with a good doctor’s report.

  • How fascinating.. I’ve never heard of this before. I like your idea to pare the sprouts with leeks… great tip, sounds really good. Beautiful photos!!

  • Love Brussels sprouts any way they are prepared. Also your ice pictures are beautiful. I still wonder what happened to your arm. Hope you get a good report from the doc. I live in an area where we have black clay soil so having a garden is pretty much out of the question as its extremely labor intensive to prepare the ground or pull weeds. I’m thinking of raised beds to provide my bees with new plants to visit. I’m envious of your gardening and it’s production.

    • I fractured my arm and tore some muscles when skiing, or rather falling. So it’s not serious but still painfull and very limiting. Just have to be a patient patient.
      re your soil, have you looked at the No Dig mthod, where you layer organic matter on top of your soil/beds, and gradually the top few inches will become lovely crumbly soil. I pretty much do this as I have heavy clay too, but the yellow kind, and digging is pointless. So I mulch with everything I can get my hands on – newspaper, cardboard, grass clippings, leaf mould, manure, compost. and I just keep layering. It seems to work as the soil has improved hugely over the last few years. Plus it helps retain moisture and weeds are easier to pull out.

  • Took me a long time before I discovered that brussel sprouts do not need to be soggy and tasteless! Love them now and am so excited to try their tops!

    Thank you for sharing!!

    • Thank you, my mum was a decent cook but my granny was of the generation that boiled everything to oblivion, and it was a while before I realised you could eat greens that had a crunch to them! And thanks for popping in 🙂

  • hahahahahahahaha “boiled everything to oblivion!” pretty much describes EVERY meal my mother makes.. (i can only say this here because she doesn’t know what wordpress is!) In all seriousness, she LIKES her food that way!!!

    hope your arm is getting better!

    • Ha, I love it. It’s amazing isn’t it, I have a friend who I think overcooks their veggies and they think I undercook mine. Each to their own I guess 🙂

  • I love brussels sprouts and l like your version. It sounds delicious. And about that arm…I hope it is mending and you will be two handed soon.

  • Truly magical icicle photos! I hope that they are repaying you for what the slippery stuff did to your arm and that the x-rays bring wonderful news. Meanwhile, what could be a better cure than anything brassica-related, since those veg seem to me to have rather special comfort powers. The combination sounds really tasty–I’d probably opt for *both* leeks and shallots if given the choice–and it’s nice to know that if one should grow or be able to procure the tops they’re perfectly usable as well as those adorable little elfin-cabbages. (I’d ask how anyone could not like them, but have also had the cooked-to-slime version that I wouldn’t happily eat either.) 🙂

  • “elfin cabbages” they are 🙂 And why is it so many of us experienced the cooked but murdered versions? And haven’t we all come a long way since then!

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