What’s in season: Resembling miniature cabbage heads, Brussels sprouts grow in small, tight rows on long stalks, with larger sprouts at the bottom, tapering off into smaller sprouts toward the top. A member of the cabbage family, the sprouts are said to have been cultivated in Belgium since the 16th century, giving them their name. The cold-weather vegetable can be found from late fall through the winter months. In addition to green sprouts, some farmers offer purplish-red Rubine sprouts, a sweet heirloom variety.
What to cook: Known for their complex flavor, Brussels sprouts benefit from cooking to bring out their gentle, sweet notes. Trim the vegetables and cut an “x” in the base of each sprout to allow the heat to penetrate before cooking. Steaming or glazing the vegetables are classic preparations, but the sprouts also work well tossed with a nut oil and roasted, or shaved and sautéed. Blanch the leaves to use in a salad, tossed with Manchego cheese and dried fruit, or deep-fry the leaves and toss with capers and chiles for a crunchy appetizer or side dish.
What’s on the horizon: Fennel is beginning to show up. Artichokes, normally in season during the spring into early summer, turn up again for a short period during late fall.