Obvious question: What is a cabbage sprout? (And no, I don't mean broccoli, which apparently means "cabbage sprout" in Italian.) A cabbage sprout is the size of a fist, like loose cabbage leaves, even loose-leaved Brussels sprouts. At the center is a small sprout, about an inch wide, a wonderful little treasure bud that's even more reminiscent of a Brussels sprout.
From the name "cabbage sprout", I suspected – but didn't know for sure – that a cabbage sprout might be a young cabbage, that if it were allowed to grow, the bud in the center would become 'the cabbage' and the outer leaves would become, well remain, the outer leaves of a cabbage. WRONG.
So I asked a farmer at the farmers market. That bud in the center is NOT an immature cabbage. Instead, when a cabbage is harvested, the "sprouts" pop up around the spot where the head was removed! RIGHT!
Next question: How do you cook cabbage sprouts? My ever-reliable sources (Epicurious, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, even straight Google and Wikipedia searches) yielded nothing. With tummies grumbling and everything but the vegetable ready to go, I decided on a quick braise, a bit of butter, a bit of liquid, cover and cook.
The ultimate question: How do cabbage sprouts taste? Well, they don't taste much like green cabbage, instead more like a winter green such as collard or kale. They've got good chew factor and taste very "alive" and fresh. I would definitely cook cabbage sprouts like this again! I might try another cooking method, maybe a slow-cook approach with bacon drippings.
RECIPE for CABBAGE SPROUTS
Time to table: 25 minutes
1 tablespoon butter (or just a splash of broth)
1 pound cabbage sprouts
Salt & pepper to taste
Melt the butter over MEDIUM heat in a large, deep skillet. Remove the sprouts' outer leaves, wash well, discard any that are damaged or seem too thick to cook (in my batch, there were only a couple of leaves like this). Slice off the root end, exposing the center sprout, cut it in half length-wise. Add to the skillet and stir to coat with the butter. Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally, adjusting heat as necessary, adding water or broth as necessary, until fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Season to taste, serve and enjoy!
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
SHOP AROUND! Because grocery chains stock for neighborhood tastes, a good way to widen your vegetable possibilities is to switch from one store to another on occasion. At this Schnucks store inside the City of St Louis, vs the near-suburbs where I live, I found two brand-new veggies, cabbage sprouts and something called "slick mustard". More on the mustard later!
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MORE FAVORITE CABBAGE RECIPES~ Swedish Red Cabbage & Apples ~
~ Cabbage & White Bean Stew ~
~ Peasant Cabbage Tomato Soup ~
~ more cabbage recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Caraway Cabbage ~
~ Baked Cabbage Wedges ~
~ Alice Waters Coleslaw ~
~ more cabbage recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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