What's in Season: Brussels Sprouts

John Burgoyne
by Jenny Everett - February/March 2013

Who says Brussels sprouts have to be bitter?

Chefs Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner of the Pass & Provisions in Houston aren’t above passing blame for the Brussels sprout’s notoriously bad rap. “At some point between the discovery of fire and now, everyone was told to cook the s*** out of Brussels sprouts so they taste like poison,” Siegel-Gardner says. But a little creativity can combat those mini-cabbage mishaps. “We use the outer leaves for a cold salad while the hearts can be charred to bring out the sweeter side,” Gallivan says. Introduced to the South when eighteenth-century French settlers brought them to Louisiana, Brussels sprouts are available throughout February. Look for tightly closed, bright green bunches with a bit of shine to them—if they are still on the stalk, even better. The chefs’ favorite prep is to simply roast them in a 400-degree oven with garlic and fresh-grated Parmesan for 15 to 20 minutes (to release natural sugars without turning them to mush). Or shave them raw and toss with a vinaigrette and bacon. As Siegel-Gardner says, “Every ingredient has beauty, and it is the challenge of the chef to extract it.” Follow his lead and you’ll never again doubt the sprout. 

>Good Eats: Get a recipe for Brussles Sprouts with Bacon, Peanuts, and Apples.

Seek out these earthy late-winter veggies:


Hakurei Turnips
Look for these baby Japanese turnips—which grow well in the South—at your farmers’ market in March. Sweet and fruity, they are great sliced raw as a snack or in a salad. Or mash them with butter and bacon as a substitute for potato. And don’t even think about discarding the greens, which are delicious sautéed with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

This close relative of garlic and shallots is available throughout the South from October through late spring, just before temperatures start creeping up. Farm-fresh leeks should be firm, with dark green leaves and contrasting white roots. Sweeter and subtler than their bulb brethren, leeks are ideal in a brunch quiche or for the base of a potato gratin, and make a flavorful addition to soups and stocks.