3 ways to make anyone love Christmas Brussels sprouts
Sprouts. You either love them or you hate them. But is there any bending to the rule? With Christmas just around the corner you may be dreading a heated argument on the great sprout debate which will surely divide the dinner table.
Here at Quorn, we’re big supporters of greens in all shapes and sizes and we’ve got some great tips and recipes which are sure to cause any sprout hater to have a change of heart.
Our friends from Higgidy surveyed 2,000 adults in the UK about their most disliked veg and unsurprisingly sprouts trumped (19%). But what is it about these little greens which so many of us just can’t stand?
Why do so many of us dislike sprouts?
Maybe you just don’t favour greens or maybe it’s your genetic makeup. A study by Cornwall College in 2011 found that Brussels sprouts contain a chemical that only tastes bitter to people who have a variation of a certain gene. Similar to the gene which makes coriander taste soapy to so many, it may not be down to your tastes to why you just can’t stomach sprouts. With this gene affecting around 50% of the world population you may have found the perfect excuse to turn down sprouts this Christmas.
Another reason you may not like sprouts is from cooking them wrong. Sprouts are pretty versatile and can be broiled, roasted, pan-fried or seared but they can also be easily cooked incorrectly. Too undercooked and they will taste bitter, when overcooked they can turn mushy and release excess sulphur (the thing which gives sprouts its signature cabbagey smell).
The right type of chopping, cooking and seasoning is all it takes to give these humble veggies a much-needed makeover. Here are our top cooking tips to make any sprout hater enjoy them this Christmas.
1. Check your seasoning
A little bit of seasoning goes a long way with vegetables. There are a lot of great herbs and flavours which complement sprouts perfectly. Try with tangy mustard to balance the earthy qualities of sprouts, or with smoked paprika for a deep smokey flavour. Try our chilli and garlic sprouts to upgrade your sprout game - the perfect pairing for our Quorn Roast with Vegetarian Stuffing here.
Chilli and Garlic Sprouts:
- A drizzle of olive oil
- 200g sprouts, shredded
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Method: Heat a drizzle of oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shredded sprouts and toss to evenly cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the chilli flakes and garlic and cook for a further 1 minute. Season to taste.
2. Prep correctly
Surprisingly, the way you cut your sprouts can have a big impact on their flavour. Simply slicing your sprouts in half before cooking can release some of the thiocyanates in the vegetable which reduces its bitterness. Scoring your sprouts also allows them to cook more evenly and adds a crispier texture. For an upgrade on the classic cross, try our recipe for hassle back sprouts and serve with our Cranberry and Orange Christmas Quorn Roast.
- 12 large sprouts
- 1½ tsp olive oil
- 1 orange
- 15g breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds
Method: Carefully trim the bottom of each sprout and slice in half lengthways. Place each half cut side down and make incisions along the length cutting halfway down to create a hasselback.
Place the sprouts cut side down in an ovenproof dish and brush with a little olive oil.
In a small bowl mix ½ tsp olive oil, breadcrumbs, zest of one orange and pomegranate seeds. Set to one side.
Squeeze the orange juice over the sprouts and cook in the oven for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes spoon the prepared breadcrumb mix over the cooked sprouts and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
3. Cook 'em right
Shallow pan-frying or stir-frying Brussels sprouts is a great way to cook tasty and crispy sprouts. Quartered or halved sprouts can be quickly fried to perfection, like in this Quorn Roast and Bubble and Squeak recipe.
Roasting is also a hassle-free way of cooking your sprouts while bringing out their rich and sweeter flavours. Toss your sprouts with the rest of your veg in a little oil with salt and pepper and roast together, like in our Quorn Peppered Steak with Roasted Vegetables recipe. Add a drizzle of honey or dairy-free butter to make your roasted vegetables extra delicious.
Perfectly Roasted Sprouts
- 680g Brussels sprouts, halved
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp salt
Method: Preheat oven to 200C. On a large baking tray, combine the sprouts, olive oil and salt. Toss until evenly coated and arrange the sprouts flat side down.
Roast the sprouts until they are fork-tender and golden, around 18 - 25 minutes. Serve hot with a garnish of crispy, fried Quorn Vegan Smoky Ham Free Slices bits.