Food & dining

Brussels sprouts have gone from shunned to the limelight

Brussels sprouts (being prepared here with pistachios) are no longer filler vegetables.
Styling/Sheryl Julian and Valerie Ryan; Dina Rudick/Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe
Brussels sprouts (being prepared here with pistachios) are no longer filler vegetables.

At some moment when we weren’t looking, Brussels sprouts lost their braces and pigtails and came of age. Now you can find them sauteed, roasted, shredded, very thinly sliced, and served with cheese, nuts, raisins, bacon, blue cheese, Buffalo sauce, chili flakes, duck fat, and more. A number of local eateries prepare Brussels sprouts this time of year.

At the Veggie Galaxy, chef Brian Van Etten created the “Western Ave.” omelet, filled with caramelized Brussels sprouts, roasted portabellos, and asiago cheese, and topped with sun-dried tomato pesto. A few years ago, says Van Etten, he started seeing the tiny green vegetables on menus. “I never ate Brussels sprouts growing up because my Dad hated them and they weren’t allowed in the house.” Van Etten roasted them with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and red pepper and served them to his father. His dad loved them. “That’s when I realized that Brussels sprouts had finally made it.”

Leah Dubois, culinary director at the Biltmore Bar & Grille in Newton and sister restaurant, Local 149 in South Boston, says of Brussels sprouts, “You can buy them locally, they are versatile, with a nice texture, and a good shelf life. They are not just filler vegetables.” At the Biltmore they’re made with chorizo, shallots, vegetable stock, and butter; at Local 149 they are tossed with buttermilk and clam fry and are served with homemade blue cheese and chipotle hot sauce. “They are an elevated pub food,” she says. Occasionally the cooks blanch some leaves or toss them into a hot pan to crisp them for salads.


The Abbey chef Josh Sherman has loved the nutty rich flavor of Brussels sprouts since he was a child. At the Brookline restaurant, shredded sprouts is a best-selling side dish. The tiny cabbage-like vegetables are thinly cut and cooked in olive oil and butter. Recently, a white pizza was topped with Brussels sprout leaves, bacon, and mozzarella cheese. “I haven’t found a way to go wrong with them yet,” says the chef.

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Local 149, 149 P St., South Boston, 617-269-0900.

The Abbey, 1657 Beacon St., Washington Square, Brookline, 617-730-8040.

The Biltmore Bar & Grille,
1205 Chestnut St., Newton
Upper Falls, 617-527-2550.

Veggie Galaxy, 450 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square,
Cambridge, 617-497-1513.

Jane Simon can be reached at