Brussel Stalks In Season

Brussel Sprout Stalk

Brussel Sprouts on Stalk

Some time back I realized that there were still mysterious vegetables in the produce section of my local grocery store that I had never tried. They certainly didn’t contain gluten, and they might very well have been amazingly delicious, but I didn’t really know. When I was living in Japan two summers ago, I decided to systematically try all the strange vegetables I’d never prepared before. But yet, in my own country, I was willing to let the brussel sprouts, horseradish, exotic greens, etc. languish on the shelves untested and untried. So, I began my experiments.

I began with recipes for whole roasted brussel sprouts, in which the entire brussel sprout is drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper and then roasted in the oven. I loved the way the outer leaves got crispy and brown, but unfortunately the core of the sprout was mushy and had the infamous “brussel sprout” aroma. According to some sites, that aroma comes from overcooking when sulfur present in the sprout is released. It was pretty good, but the leftovers languished in my refrigerator, unloved and ignored.

Some time later I was browsing one of my favorite gluten free blogs, Gluten Free by the bay and I came across an intriguing recipe where BytheBay (the creative genius behind the site) sliced the sprouts in half, drizzled them with olive oil, seasoned them, and finally roasted them. Wondering if she had found a way around brussel sprout’s persnickety nature, I tried her recipe- and was an instant convert. They were fabulous!

But my adventures with brussel sprouts were far from over. Brussel sprouts, along with artichokes and other delightful vegetables, are grown in Northern California. I only remember these things when I visit my local farmer’s market and discover heirloom delights that are too delicate for the long haul across country. Surprisingly, I was also reminded of the joys of local produce at my local Nob Hill Supermarket when I found something in the produce section that was both incredibly familiar and alien. It was a gorgeous but oversized stalk of brussel sprouts, as yet attached to the stalk they grew on. I couldn’t resist it… and when, a week later, I actually brought myself to slice the little cabbage like sprouts off the stalk, I somehow felt like I had invented the brussel sprout, or at least grown it myself. I followed BytheBay’s recipe, only changing it by adding poultry seasoning instead of sage, because I was out of sage. It was the most delicious brussel sprout dish I’d ever had- it was sweet and nutty, with crispy outer leaves and lightly golden crust on the cut half. The only problem is, now that I’ve had them in season and literally fresh off of the stalk, I don’t know how I can go back to the bitter old sprouts usually found piled up in the Supermarket bins. So, my brussel sprout saga concludes- and I can safely say not only that I have made the acquaintance of a new vegetable, but I have learned its quirks and discovered what, for me, is the perfect way to prepare a much maligned vegetable.

Brussel stalk vertical Brussel Brussels in Bowl Roasted Brussel Sprouts

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8 Responses to “Brussel Stalks In Season”

  1. I was wondering – have you come across any recipes for cooking the stalk itself?

  2. Hi Peter- You know, I haven’t. I’m not sure if it is edible or not. I think if it were, it would be pretty fibrous. :)

  3. Peter Swaney Says:

    Actually, I think they would turn out like Broccoli Stalks. I’ve steamed the stalk’s “tentacles” (look at the picture, you know what I mean) together with the sprouts for 10-12 minutes, and they turned out delicious ^^

    Although…yeah, you need one heck of a knife to even begin chopping up the stalk. So…maybe not.
    Nevermind. :P

  4. We broke (w/a crack on the counter’s edge) the long brussel sprout stalks into smaller lengths (about 5″ to 8″) and nuked on high power for 5 minutes. When they were cool, we easily split the stalks lengthwise. Inside is a nice, soft, green substance/mush which tastes like brussel sprouts, but we only tasted a pinch, since we didn’t know whether it was edible. Seems like it could be mixed into soup, w/cheese, a little butter or olive oil, mayo, tahini, spices or whatever recipe you might create. It’s probably full of nutrient(s). The tasting was about 3 hours ago, and so far, no apparent adverse side effects. Can someone, please answer the question whether brussel spout stalks are edible?

  5. We peeled the stalk down to remove the fibrous outer part and were left with a core about an inch wide that runs the entire length of the stock. This cuts easily. We cubed it, and boiled it until it was fork tender. A little salt and melted butter and it was delicious. Texture like broccoli stalk, but tastes just like brussels sprouts.

  6. Has anyone cooked the sprouts while on the stalk? I would like a recipe for the sprouts on the stalk. Not interested in consuming the stalk. I want to present the sprouts on the stalk on a platter. Baking? Cutting sprouts in half and leaving half on the stalk?

  7. I too came to like brussel sprouts only by cutting them in half and sauteing them with olive oil and garlic. But this year, I tried a recipe where you slice the brussel sprouts into ribbons and then saute them as usual with garlic. Holding the stem end, slice through each one from its head, down to the nub you are holding and it will make rings that when handled, turn into ribbons. The result is so delicate both in taste and texture. My sister was visiting and though she does not like brussel sprouts, loved these. They are also good with some dried cranberries added. Give it a try.

  8. Hi…
    Just came across some on the stalk at our farmer’s market this morning. The farmer tells me you can roast them on the stalk (about an hour at 300). You’ll still want to season them (olive oil, salt, pepper… I like the poultry seasoning idea! We usually go with bacon and shallots on our brussels.)

    Anyway, I’m told after cooking they will fall off easily with a spoon. And they get the benefits of being attached to the stalk during cooking — so they’re not as dry.

    Afterwards the stalk can be used for soup stock.

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