Eat Fresh

Star Ingredient of the Season: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts and bacon pair perfectly at Houston's newest restaurant-market combo on Washington Ave.

By Megha Tejpal April 13, 2015

Image: Shutterstock

There was once a time when brussels sprouts were the boring, bland vegetable side left behind on most dinner plates. Those days are long gone, as the miniature leafy green vegetable has become a popular ingredient in a variety of different dishes. A simple green that doesn't need much more to be seasoned with than salt, pepper and perhaps a touch of balsamic vinegar, a dish featuring brussels sprouts can be a wholesome, nutritious starter to any meal.

The star of the Season: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are known to have a long growing season, so you will see them on farm to table menus throughout the year. Part of the cabbage family, they are rich in protein, an excellent source of Vitamin C and loaded with other vital nutrients. Brussels sprouts are versatile in their cooking methods in that they can be steamed, boiled, sauteed, baked and much more. They are a great addition to casseroles, fresh vegetable pastas, and of course as a side dish to steak and seafood. The bright green color and round shape with leafy outer layer bear a striking resemblance to cabbage—another cruciferous vegetable—and for a vegetable they can be very filling.

In my opinion, the best way to indulge in brussels sprouts is when they take on a starring role and you can truly enjoy their fresh flavor. The key is to find an herb or marinade which is subtle enought to compliment the brussels sprouts while not taking away from their natural taste. I found a dish which does just that at a hot new Houston restaurant, where the brussels sprouts could hold their own and were complimented perfectly by their tasty counterparts.

The bacon and onion braised brussels sprouts with carmelized garlic and balsamic dressing at Urban Eats on Washington Ave.

Image: Megha Tejpal

In a Starring Role at: Urban Eats

Urban Eats
1010 Wagner St.

The newest trend in Houston restaurants? Making it easy to satisfy all of our cravings in one place. From coffee shops that serve crepes and wine to casual cafes featuring fresh-pressed juices, each new eatery that emerges offers diners something dynamic and different.

Urban Eats, Washington Avenue's newest power player, is no different. In fact, it brings a lot to the table beyond just food and drinks. Urban Eats is housed along with an in-house market in a charming two-story building. The downstairs market area features a casual cafe where you can purchase grab-and-go items, coffee, pastries and a variety of locally sourced necessities (think MALK almond milk, Cloud 10 Creamery ice-cream, Kraftsmen bread, etc.) Venture up the corner staircase to the second floor and you will find yourself in the much livelier restaurant and bar. Should the weather permit, I recommend grabbing a seat outside on the patio as the restaurant provides a stellar view of the downtown skyline.

The menu at Urban Eats is simple with a heavy focus on sliders and pommes frites. Of course, most of the dishes go along with the restaurant's theme of featuring organic, farm-fresh, locally sourced ingredients, so the salads are loaded with fresh vegetables and cheeses, and their soups change daily. It was at Urban Eats that I discovered brussels sprouts in a starring role where they managed to outshine even their ever-famous counterpart: bacon. The bacon-and-onion-braised brussels sprouts are served split in half and pan seared, topped with carmelized garlic and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. A generous portion to share as a starter, the brussels sprouts are so deep in color and rich in flavor, that they are definitely one of the best dishes on the menu, with the bacon as a decadent addition to the typically healthy vegetable dish.

Spring showers bring May flowers, but the warm weather brings in all of the fabulous fresh produce we wait all year for! Stay tuned every week to hear more about what's fresh right now and the best places to enjoy the bounty of the season.



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