Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts, Kalamata Olives and Lemon Zest

Beautiful, delicious, nutritious Brussels sprouts pair great with pine nuts, Kalamata olives and lemon zest

I’m not sure when Brussels sprouts became the new “it” food, but I’m glad they did. As a kid, I thought they were disgusting, right up there with creamed spinach, so I was pleasantly surprised when I tried them a few years ago and discovered I was a fan.

But is it just me, or does it seem like the only way Brussels sprouts are served these days is roasted? Don’t get me wrong, roasted is good, but sometimes I want something different. So I was delighted to find this fabulous alternative recipe in Deborah Madison’s  excellent and informative Vegetable Literacy, which calls for slicing and boiling them before dressing with a mustard-caraway butter, and mixing with pine nuts, olives (she didn’t specify what kind; I used Kalamata) and lemon zest, which add not only additional flavors, but contrasting textures and colors. This is a great way to prepare larger Brussels sprouts, because by slicing you make sure they cook all the way through—but don’t overcook, which is the fastest way to ruin them.  Boiling the sprouts also turns them a beautiful bright green color, so this is a very pretty and festive dish.  

But before I get to the recipe, a little about Brussels sprouts, which are essentially mini-cabbages. According to Deborah Madison, they were grown in Belgium (thus the name, presumably) in the 1200s, although they’re thought to have originated in Rome. They were first introduced to the U.S. by French settlers, who planted them in Louisiana. (Thomas Jefferson also grew them, she says.)

A subspecies of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts are a wonderful low-calorie source of vitamins A and C, along with folate and fiber.  And they’re so cute!

I served the following recipe as a side dish, but Deborah Madison suggests you can make it into a meal by mixing with whole wheat pasta or buckwheat noodles and grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, or spooned onto toasted rye bread spread with blue cheese. Yum!


1 pound Brussels sprouts

2 Tbl butter or a mix of butter and olive oil

1 plump shallot, finely diced

½ tsp caraway seeds

2 tsp (or more) Dijon mustard

Zest of one lemon, finely chopped

1 C Kalamata olives, chopped

1/3 C pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet

Salt and pepper to taste



Cut off the base of each sprout, removing any damaged or discolored leaves, then slice thinly crosswise so that you get 4 to 5 slices per sprout.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.

While the water is heating, melt the butter in a skillet, then add the shallot and caraway seeds. Cook over medium heat until the shallot has begun to soften, about 5 minutes, then stir in the mustard and turn off the heat.

Add the Brussels sprouts and some salt to the boiling water, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bright green and tender but not mushy, then drain. (Do not overcook!) Put them back in the pot and mix in the shallots and mustard-caraway butter, as well as the lemon zest, olives and toasted pine nuts, and salt and pepper to taste. If needed, add a little olive oil at the end.

Permanent link to this article: http://missoulafoodcoop.com/brussels-sprouts-with-pine-nuts-kalamata-olives-and-lemon-zest/

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