Sweet & Sour Brussels Sprouts

You don’t have to be a fan of Brussels sprouts to like this dish!

When I was a child, Brussels sprouts were not my favorite, and I could tell we were having them for dinner the second I walked in the house. The aroma that permeated the house, cooking them to death, and serving them rather naked did not make for an appetizing dish!

Quick cooking is the secret

Generally, I make Brussels sprouts simply, sliced in half with a quick sauté in olive oil with a bit of minced garlic or anchovy. I found the first sprouts of the year at the farmstead recently, and decided I might like to make them a little special to celebrate the season.

The first Brussels sprouts, apples, and sweet purple topped turnips combine to make a memorable side dish.

A great combination of soft, crispy, sweet, and sour

This dish has everything going for it: caramelized bits of sprouts, a little sweet from the apple and maple syrup and a little tang from the vinegar. It is also a great dish because everything in it except the olive oil and pine nuts are grown locally! Look for Italian pine nuts, and make sure you see the source on the packaging; there are a lot of pine nuts from China on the shelves these days, and the quality control on these is suspect at best.

Best of all, they are not over-cooked, grey, and mushy!

Sweet & Sour Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 ½ lbs. Brussels Sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cups diced turnip
  • 3 or 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 large apple, cored and diced about sprout size
  • 3 tbsp. cider vinegar, divided
  • 2 tbsp. dark amber maple syrup (the real stuff please!)
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1 tbsp. Italian pine nuts, or hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp. bread crumbs 

The prep:  Remove any brown leaves from the Brussels sprouts and trim the stem end to remove any darkening. Slice each in half lengthwise, keeping the end in tact so it will stay together.

Dice onion and turnip. Core the apple (leave peeling on) and dice in approximate Brussels sprouts size. Finely mince the sage leaves.

Heat the Pinenuts and breadcrumbs in a dry skillet and toast over high for about five minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Do not walk away from this or they will burn. The mixture should have some color and a lovely fragrance. Set aside.

The cook:  In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil until shimmering over medium high heat and add the butter and onion. Sauté for a minute just to soften a bit, then add the sprouts, cut side down. Cook for about five minutes, just until they start to caramelize on the cut side, remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onion, turnip and minced sage. Stir around for a minute or two, cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook five minutes, until the vegetables have softened but are not quite done.

Brussels sprouts are best quickly sautéed and served while still vibrant!

Add the apples, 2 tbsp. of the vinegar, maple syrup, and a little salt and pepper. Continue cooking for five minutes, or until everything is just about done. Add the sprouts back to the pan.

Add the last tablespoon of vinegar, remove from heat, mix everything up well, taste and correct the seasoning. Do you need more salt or pepper? A little more sweet or sour?

Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle the top with nuts and breadcrumbs. Serves a crowd!

Nutrition note: 

One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has only 56 calories, less than a gram of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates, nearly 500 mg. of potassium, 4 g. of fiber, and 4 g. of protein. It also has almost twice your daily need for Vitamin C and one-fourth of Vitamin A., 10% of your iron, and 6% of your calcium.

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37 Comments Add yours

  1. Chef Mimi says:

    Wonderful! I love the apple and nuts in here. I’ve used apple cider before but not an actual apple. Very smart!

    1. Thanks Mimi! The apple is delicious here!

  2. CARAMEL says:

    I am one of those people who actually loves Brussel sprouts – but I love them even more when they have extra ingredients to spice them up!

    1. Thanks Caramel! I love them too, when they are not overcooked!

  3. Suzassippi says:

    I love brussel sprouts, and saute them in olive oil until caramelized and then add a bit of balsamic until it makes a light glaze. This sounds lovely, though, and in another few days, I can try it out! The range is in, and the sink and faucet will be on Tuesday!

    1. Hooray! How wonderful that you will be back in full business! Love the idea of the balsamic on sprouts!!!! Yum!

  4. NancyC says:

    I am a fan of brussels sprouts and the flavors in this recipe sound wonderful!

    1. Thank you so much Nancy! The flavors really do work together nicely.

  5. CarolCooks2 says:

    I love brussel sprouts any which way just not overcooked…Adding the apple sounds delicious 🙂

    1. I love them too Carol, and I really love the apple in this!

  6. Brussels Sprouts got bad reputation due to overcooking, or using frozen ones. Your way of preparing does them justice. Cabbage and apples is such a tasty classic combination. 🙂

    1. Thanks Ronit. They really did get a horrible reputation. I was looking at a vintage cookbook from the 1930s that said to boil them for up to an hour!

      1. How horrible!!! 🙂

      2. I know! And all the vegetables cooked for so long in this particular book, I can’t imagine there would be a bit of nutrition left!

      3. None whatsoever… 🙁

  7. picpholio says:

    This is realy Belgian food 🙂 Delicious !

    1. We shall always be thankful to Brussels for these babies!

  8. You always stretch our food ideas. This would have not been one I would have thought of, but it looks interesting and delicious.

    1. Thank you Judy! It was a nice twist!

  9. Joni says:

    Brussels sprouts remind me of my grandmother’s house – mushy and overcooked like you said and the smell that wouldn’t go away for days even with the windows open – but I know they are good for you so I do eat them occasionally, and this year I actually grew one. I was surprised how tall it grew. It’s still some way from harvest though….as the buds are still small. How do you know when to pick them?

    1. First thing you do is strip off all the leaves except the top ones, it will end up looking like a little palm tree! This puts the energy into the sprout and not the leaves. The good news is that they keep on the stalk for a long time, and they will ripen from the bottom up, and are best after the first light frost or at least some cooler weather. When you think one is ready, pick it and give it a try!

      1. Joni says:

        Thanks Dorothy! I did not know that about removing the leaves, but that makes sense. I’ll check the bottom ones too.

  10. Fergy. says:

    Without wishing to sound over fulsome, this is nothing short of genius. I have long gone beyond the “boiling them to death” stage and always pan fry mine rather than boil. I love the things. I have experimented very successfully with orange. I won’t bore you with the full recipe (I wouldn’t dare) but it basically involves freshly squeezed orange juice and marmalade (don’t laugh) and it works well.

    The concept of marrying sprouts with a sweet and sour element (my absolute favourite in a Chinese restaurant) is inspired. Something, somewhere in the Universe, designed you to be a cook!

    Many thanks.

    1. Thank you so much! These really are quite good, and your orange sprouts sound wonderful as well, I imagine the marmalade adds a bit of a bitter note to balance all the sweet and would be wonderful with the sprouts. I hope you post the recipe!

      1. Fergy. says:

        Thank you so much. I don’t really do recipes, I just throw things at a pot / pan and see what comes out the far end. It is just a matter of frying off the sprouts (I prefer butter to oil for this one but don’t get it too hot), usual seasoning, good dollop or marmalade and a little freshly squeezed OJ with a little zest thrown in. A bit of rosemary goes well. If you want to fancy it up a bit, a little finely sliced pancetta goes well, the saltiness balances out the sweetness of the marmalade / orange, which has it’s own inherent bitterness as you mention so you have all the flavour groups there.

        Shall we start a sprout rehabilitation group here online? I think the poor, humble veg has been put down for far too long and, let’s face it, there seems to be a support group for just about everything else these days!

      2. Yes, let’s start the revolution! I adore these babies in so many ways, and there are few other veggies as good for you!
        Love your “recipe” which is how I cook most of the time. Writing the blog and the cookbook has been a real discipline for me, measuring and figuring out what exactly I put in a dish!

      3. Fergy. says:

        A one word answer for you here, “don’t”! I know people like precise measurements and they are necessary for baking certainly but for cooking, just go with a dash of this, a dollop of that etc.

      4. Makes most people crazy!

      5. Fergy. says:

        I know, I have been driving people crazy most of my life!

  11. What a unique combo! I actually love Brussels sprouts, and like to roast them until they have a nice char. I need to expand my horizons and try this!

    1. Thanks Jenna! I love the char on B sprouts too!

  12. I love sweet and sour anything. I have made Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar but this recipe sound amazing!!!!

    1. The balsamic is a wonderful companion to Brussels sprouts as well! Yum all the way.

  13. Nancy says:

    This sounds amazing! Adding the apples peaks my curiosity! Mmmm! Mmmm!

    1. Thank yo Nancy! The apples give it a nice dimension, and you can use pears too.

  14. Can’t wait to try these!!

    1. Thanks! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

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