Perhaps the most visually interesting vegetable to come out of the garden this time of year, Brussels sprouts are a member of the cabbage family and, in fact, resemble miniature cabbages. They grow on tall stalks, and are sometimes sold in grocery stores this time of year with the sprouts attached to the stems. If you can get them this way, buy them – they’ll be the most fresh.
Regardless of whether or not they’re on the stalk, look for sprouts with firm, tightly-closed heads with no wilting or yellowing leaves. If they’ve been cut from the stalks, the base may be a yellowish-brown color, and that’s okay. They discolor quickly once harvested. However, avoid those that have excessively dark bases, an indication that they’re older and not very fresh. Stored in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of your fridge, Brussels sprouts will keep for several days. Don’t wash them until just before you plan to cook them – excess water causes the leaves to deteriorate.
Brussels sprouts can be steamed, blanched or sautéed, and these days, it’s not uncommon to see Brussels sprouts in everything from pizzas to braises, but roasting is one of the best (and simplest) ways to prepare them. Just halve the sprouts lengthwise, toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 400°F for eight to 10 minutes or until tender-crisp and lightly browned.