SPROUTS: love them or hate them, they’ll always be a firm favourite at Christmas time and we Brits certainly get through a lot of them.
I was astonished to discover that Asda predict that they will sell around 140 million Brussels sprouts in the two weeks before Christmas – now that’s a lot of love for sprouts!
However, there are plenty of haters out there too. A dislike of sprouts often comes from being force-fed overcooked, soggy ‘mini cabbages’ when young and the memory of that lingering, bad smell of boiled-to-death Brussels.
Cooked properly, sprouts can be really delicious and have a sweet, nutty flavour unlike any other vegetable.
But even if you’re not a big fan, you can still add a few extra ingredients and make them a little more exciting and tasty.
This week’s recipe is a great way of adding more flavour and texture to a regular bowl of sprouts at Christmas time.
What’s more, this recipe is a great winter meal in itself, or try adding a few mashed or boiled potatoes to make it a more substantial dish.
Brussels sprouts are at their best in winter, with the season lasting right through until March.
Sprouts pack a decent nutritional punch too so it’s worth incorporating them into your winter meals more often, instead of just eating them at Christmas. Sprouts contain high levels of vitamins A and C (an 80g serving of sprouts contains four times more vitamin C than an orange!) plus folic acid and dietary fibre.
When buying sprouts, look for the bright green ones with tightly packed leaves.
The smaller the sprout, the sweeter the flavour too. If you do buy small sprouts, then there’s no need to cross the bottom as they’ll cook fairly quickly. Be warned though, overcooked sprouts are pretty unpleasant so keep cooking time to a minimum!
If you want to prepare this dish in advance then you can cook the sprouts and bacon beforehand and then just toss everything together a few minutes before you’re ready to serve.
Sautéed Sprouts with Bacon & Walnuts
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
1kg Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
6 rashers unsmoked, streaky bacon
150g walnut halves
Large knob of butter
Cook the sprouts in a pan of boiling, salted water for 6-8 minutes until al dente (softened but so they still retain their bite). If they are regular sized or large sprouts, make a cross in the bottom of each one so they cook evenly. Drain and tip out onto a large tray to cool.
Meanwhile, slice the bacon rashers into bite-sized pieces and fry in a little oil in a large pan until they start to colour and crisp.
Slice the cooled sprouts in half then toss into the pan with the bacon so that the juices coat the vegetables. Add the butter and fry for 2 minutes, without turning, to allow the outside to crisp.
Add the walnuts to the pan and toss everything together. Cook for a further minute or so to allow the nuts to heat through then add a twist of black pepper and serve immediately.