Brussels sprouts are, famously, one of those vegetables folk either love or loathe. And scientists at the Eden Project, in Cornwall, England, are currently exploring the theory that this preference is, quite literally, encoded into your DNA.
According to the scientists involved, sprouts contain a chemical that tastes bitter to folk with one variation on a gene, while folk with the other variation don’t taste the bitterness at all.
Whatever your feeling on the evil green things themselves — and I’m a fan (especially when they’re cooked with pancetta, you might not have come across the best bit about the vegetable.
That’s sprout tops, the undersized, tender cabbages which grow on the top of the big, fat stalk where the sprouts, well, sprout from… And, in sprout-growing countries, they’re a winter favourite, with a slightly peppery edge that brings them closer to rocket (arugula) than your average winter veg, but a sweetness that comes through when they’re cooked.
What to do with them? Well, you can slice them up thin and mix with carrot slivers for a winter salad (dress with a light vinaigrette for a spring-time feel, thin mayo for more of a slaw). You can blanch them for 30 seconds or so, and serve with lots of butter. You can fry them up with bacon, garlic and chillis (fresh or Tabasco, your call), or steam them and decorate with grated parmesan.
Or just treat them like you would any other seasonal green. Enjoy!