Love them or loathe them, no Christmas table is complete without brussels sprouts. Simply boiled, they can become soggy and sad-looking, but roasted, sweetened, creamed – even shaved – they are transformed into the most mouth-watering, seasonal side dish. Below are some of our favourite ways to pimp them up for the big day and beyond, from some of the UK’s most-loved chefs and the world’s best foodie bloggers. Make the most of those leftovers!
Orzo with brussels sprouts and sausage
Bring a deep pan of water to the boil. Salt it generously and add 150g of orzo pasta. Cook for the time it says on the packet, but check it regularly after 4 minutes. Drain and refresh with cold running water to stop it cooking.
In a wide frying pan, warm a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, then add 400g of fat sausage skinned and broken into pieces (I like the Italian fennel-seed sausage for this) and let it cook for a few minutes, till golden brown.
Cut 200g of trimmed brussels sprouts in half, fry lightly among the sausages, turning them in the fat. Keep the heat moderate, and add more fat or oil if necessary. Tip in the drained orzo, a little chopped thyme then 4 tbsp of white wine or white vermouth. As soon as the pasta is hot, stir in 200g of crème fraîche and a small handful of grated parmesan. Serve hot. Serves 2 generously.
Middle Eastern roasted brussels sprouts with citrus yogurt and toasted nut
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a medium-high heat. Wash and trim 500g sprouts, then add to the pan and parboil for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside to dry.
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small frying pan over a medium heat for 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Using a pestle and mortar, finely grind the toasted seeds with a pinch of sea salt.
Tip most of the spice mix into a large roasting tray and toss in the sprouts. Peel and slice 2 small red onions, then trim and slice 1 bulb of fennel. Tip into the tray along with a glug of oil. Spread everything in an even layer – you may need two trays – and cook for 20 minutes, until tender and starting to caramelise.
Meanwhile, return your frying pan to the heat and toast 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds and 25g of hazelnuts for 3 minutes, then grind up with 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, 2 of coriander seeds and a pinch of sumac, using a pestle and mortar.
Combine 200g Greek yoghurt with a heaped teaspoon of tahini. Peel and crush 1 small clove of garlic and stir through, then finely grate in the zest of half a lemon and squeeze in half the juice (save the rest for another day). Taste the yoghurt and season well, then spread it evenly over the base of a large serving platter and sprinkle some sumac over the top.
Spoon the sprout mix on top of the yoghurt mixture, scraping up the lovely crispy bits in the pan. Sprinkle the ground nuts and seeds over the top. Pick and finely chop the herb leaves, discarding the stalks. Scatter the leaves across the plate, then serve.
Noodles with shaved brussels sprouts, leeks and pine nuts
Cook your chosen noodles according to package directions. Drain, then place in a large bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of butter until it melts and evenly coats the noodles.
While the noodles cook, slice the white and light green parts of 2 small (or 1 large) leeks into 1/4″ slices. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet, then add the sliced leeks and cook until starting to brown in spots.
Add around 450g of shaved brussels sprouts and a pinch of salt and continue cooking, stirring often, until the brussels are bright green and a bit soft – about 8 minutes. The brussels should still be a bit crunchy. Add more salt if necessary.
While the brussels cook, place a 1/4 cup of pine nuts in a small, dry skillet and place over medium heat. Cook, tossing very often, until lightly browned in spots and fragrant. This should only take a minute or two. Remove to a plate to cool.
Finally, toss everything together, top with parmesan, and serve.
Creamy brussels sprouts gratin
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 450g of sprouts and cook for 6-8 minutes. Drain and set aside for later.
In a cast iron skillet (or any oven proof skillet), heat 1 tablespoon of butter and fry 3 cloves of garlic and half a white onion with your choice of Italian seasoning and half a teaspoon of red chilli pepper flakes over a medium heat until fragrant – up to 1 or 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 teaspoons of cornstarch (or flour) until fully incorporated.
Stir half a cup of veggie (or chicken) broth in the skillet and mix until the sauce thickens a bit. Pour half a cup of heavy cream over and whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then spread the sprouts out evenly into the sauce. Give everything a quick stir to coat well and sprinkle with parmesan. Transfer the skillet and bake the gratin until bubbly and golden brown – about 15 minutes.
Brussels sprouts pizza with balsamic red onions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place a pizza stone (or any old slab of stone) on the middle rack if you have one. Slice your 2 medium (or 1 large) red onions into thin rounds (the thinner you slice them, the faster they will cook).
Prepare the sprouts – you’ll need around 8 ounces – by slicing off the tough ends and discarding them. Use your fingers to pull off the individual leaves around the outside, then trim off the newly exposed tough end, and continue until you have broken the sprout into leaves. Repeat for about half of the sprouts, then slice the rest into thin slices from top to bottom. Drizzle with 1 ½ teaspoons of olive oil and toss well. Rub the oil into the sprout leaves so they’re all lightly coated in oil, adding another dash of oil if necessary. Toss with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and set aside.
To prepare the red onions, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a dash of salt. Toss to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the onions are nice and soft. Pour in 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Continue cooking, uncovered, for a few more minutes, until the vinegar has condensed and mostly absorbed into the onions. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Prepare the pizza dough as directed. If you’re using store-bought dough, roll it out into one pizza. I like to roll out the dough on pieces of parchment paper for easy transfer to the oven. For best results, roll the dough out as thin as reasonably possible while maintaining an even surface level. Top the dough with an even layer of red onions, followed by as much mozzarella cheese as you wish. Sprinkle the sprouts on top, then finish with a sprinkling of parmesan.
Transfer one pizza to the oven at a time (if you don’t have a baking stone, bake your pizza on a cookie sheet). Bake until the crust is golden, the cheese is bubbly and the sprouts are crispy on the edges – about 10 to 14 minutes. Repeat with remaining pizza, if you have one. Top the pizza(s) with a light sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes if you’d like, then slice and serve.