Lisa Erickson mug

eat a lot of brussels sprouts.

They’re in my salad at lunch. I like them grilled and served with a steak at dinner or served as an appetizer with a beer at my favorite local restaurant. They’re also growing in my garden!

I’m surprised when I tell people I really like Brussels sprouts they scrunch their nose up and say, “ewe!” 

Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that need some TLC when you cook them. I’m afraid many people have been the recipient of brussels sprout negligence. Sadly, bad sprouts can scar you for life. 

Brussels sprouts contain a compound called glucosinolate that turns into a bitter compound, isothiocyanate when the sprouts are damaged or overcooked. For years, farmers have been growing varieties that contain less of the bitter compound—sprouts may not be as strong as you remember as a kid. 

Studies also suggest some people have the ability to detect bitter compounds more than others. It could be hereditary. Your genes may make you more likely to detect the bitter compound. Even though sprouts can be bitter, these same compounds are the ones that scientists are studying because they may be effective against a host of health issues. 

The bigger sprouts are, the more likely they will be bitter. When shopping for sprouts, look for sprouts that are tightly compact, small, and fresh. 

This recipe is good a segway into “teaching” yourself into liking brussels sprouts. The flavors are complimentary and the way they are cooked produces a mild flavor. 

Marinated Brussel Sprouts

1 lb. Brussel sprouts, cut in half

¼ cup butter, melted

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup Italian salad dressing

½ cup parmesan cheese

1 small clove of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp onion, minced

1 Tbsp parsley, chopped

½ tsp dried dill

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim Brussel sprouts by cutting off the ends and removing any damaged outside leaves. Cut in half unless they’re small, then leave whole. Arrange sprouts on a large rimmed baking pan. Drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes until sprouts are tender and some edges are darkened.

In a large bowl, combine the dressing, garlic, onion, parsley, and dill. Pour over warm sprouts and toss to evenly coat. Cool completely and cover. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. The sprouts can be served while they are warm, but the flavors will be milder.

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes by emailing her at


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