Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Brussels pearls neither bitter nor farty

January 6, 2006

Look what Maman brought home for dinner tonight! While everyone else in the valley is shooting at wild boar, I managed to wrestle to the ground and uproot this domestic brussels sprouts tree. Admittedly, that sounds like I’m getting the short end of the stick, but the pearly buttons and sweet leaves of this homegrown resemble nothing of the bitter fartiness that I know to be storebought brussels sprouts. I’ve been scheming on how to bring back a whole tree to the sorrel-eating Dishy Lad on Tuesday, when I return to Amsterdam.

As a kid, not liking the food dished up at the dinner table was not an option. It was more or less expected that one would come to the table with a good appetite, sit down, join in the bubbly conversation and not only eat your food, but enjoy it. There was only one thing that brother Aar and I didn’t really like, and that was brussels sprouts. Not liking something in our house meant that it was prepared once a year in the name of good health, and that we ate it anyway, smothered in tabasco sauce.

Tonight we’re having brussels ‘pearls’ as a snack, that’s how freaky we are! Two handfuls thrown into salted boiling water for just a few seconds, tossed with lightly salted butter and a squeeze of lemon and served on cocktail skewers. The friends were eating right out of my lap.

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Brussels Sprouts Leaves Raw and Not Raw

fresh brussels sprouts leaves


sesame oil
rice wine vinegar
soy sauce
fresh ginger, chopped fine
fresh garlic, chopped fine
wasabe (or mustard)

Stack a bunch of brussels sprouts leaves on a cutting board. Roll them up lengthwise so that the ‘cigar’ is easy to grip. Cut into very fine shreds (chiffonade).

Make the dressing as you would a vinaigrette… in an old jam jar. Add enough ginger, garlic and wasabe so that when you give it a good shakin’, the dressing becomes creamy.

Raw version: Toss the thin shreds of brussel sprout leaf into a goodly amount of dressing and let it sit at least an hour.

Cooked version: Pour a few glugs of olive oil into a hot skillet and toss in the shredded leaves. With some chopsticks whisk and toss the leaves a few times through the sizzling skillet and pour a few glugs of the dressing on top. Swish it all around a few more times and then tip out the lot into an awaiting bowl. Done in less than a minute.

Because I can’t ever let well-enough alone, I perverted a traditional Dutch recipe of ’stampot’, and served the Brussel Sprouts Leaves with mash. All eaters were silent in admiration.

debra at 18:38 | | post to


  1. thank you for info about brussel sprouts, we have been wondering if we could eat the leaves so not to waste anything of what we were growning which is only eight plants this year to see what they were like, we will definatly try these now

    Comment by sheena coldwell — June 18, 2010 @ 21:43

  2. Thanks for this simple recipe for preparing brussel sprout leaves! I’m growing them for the first time and I’ve just thinned them so I have two big bunches that I’d rather eat than toss into the compost, although it’s not a bad second option.

    Well, off to the kitchen.

    Comment by Mary-Lou — July 18, 2010 @ 3:13

  3. Thanks for the brussel sprout leaf story… I have been growing 8 spectacular brussel sprout plants without managing to produce any more than a few little pea sized brussel sprouts. I’m in Australia and I suspect I planted too late (first timer) … but at least I now know that the plants aren’t wasted - I’ll just eat leaves!

    The bonus is that in googling about brussel sprouts I found your most awesome blog! Thanks!

    Comment by Meg — October 24, 2010 @ 4:52

  4. I can’t wait to try this.. I have grown up with brussel sprouts and have a love/hate relationship with them. I love them when my Ma cooks them and hate them when I cook them! I wish I could perfect a recipe like this one!

    Comment by Sunny — October 27, 2010 @ 17:32

  5. I used brussel spout plant leaves to make cabbage rolls. Not sure if you would call it brussel rolls, or what. Not as tasty I didn’t think, as cabbage, but pretty good. Best thing is used them for was to make soup. Take a brocolli soup recipe, and substitute brussel sprout leaves. Uhmmmm.


    Comment by Linda — October 28, 2010 @ 6:26

  6. Excellent tips! I didn’t want to waste such huge leaves from my tiny garden.

    Comment by Corrie — July 21, 2011 @ 21:05

  7. Being from the States, could you please tell me what ‘mash’ is? (And perhaps provide a recipe, please & thank you!)

    And, THANK YOU for the dressing recipe! I can’t wait to try this with both sprout and kohlrabi leaves.

    Lu Ann in T’rivers, WI USA

    Comment by Lu Ann — August 30, 2011 @ 18:53

  8. mash - mashed potatoes.

    Comment by marc llewellyn — September 11, 2011 @ 3:11

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