by Tia Butts

Napa Register

Each week at the Napa Farmers Market Education Station, we host a produce tasting so our shoppers, particularly our littlest, can taste-test different fruits and vegetables, learn about their nutritional value and determine their own likes and dislikes.

When our daughter was growing up, my husband and I always made her try new foods, telling her “you never know until you try it.” Much to our surprise, her favorite vegetable at a very young age became Brussels sprouts. She’s now 21 and it remains her favorite.

Brussels sprouts do evoke a cringe response from some people. A member of the broccoli and cabbage family, they can be smelly when overcooked, which is a common complaint. You can minimize the odor by roasting them or parboiling them for two to three minutes, then dunking them in an ice bath to stop the cooking before finishing them in the sauté pan or oven.

Brussels sprouts are also delicious and very mild when shredded and served in a slaw or salad with a tart dressing and a fresh herb like cilantro. And if you’ve never had Brussels sprouts deep fried and served with a dash of Asian seasonings, I recommend you try it as soon as possible. They’re a crunchy flavor bomb.

I’m excited to see Brussels sprouts on the stalk currently available at the Napa Farmers Market from one of our newest farms, Tu Universo, from Gilroy in Santa Clara County. What’s cool about the sprouts being on the stalk? They stay fresher that way, and you can roast them on the stalk with fresh herbs, shallots, olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. That method requires only takes about 45 minutes in the oven at 375 degrees and makes for a dramatic presentation.

Below is our daughter’s favorite Brussels sprouts recipe. It’s more traditional but tasty with the roasted meats we cook in fall and winter. Being from Vermont, I sometimes substitute maple syrup for the honey. You can find capocollo in many supermarket deli departments, but prosciutto makes a nice substitute. I also like this dish topped with toasted chopped hazelnuts.

Brussels Sprouts with Honey-Glazed Pearl Onions and Capocollo

This recipe is from “The Best of Cooking Light 8” by Cooking Light magazine.

3 cups of pearl onions

5 cups of trimmed and quartered Brussels sprouts (about 1 3/4 pounds)

1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped capocollo ham

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons honey

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add the onions; cook 1 minute. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon. Drain and rinse under cold running water; drain. Set aside. Add the Brussels sprouts to the boiling water; boil 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Pinch the stem end of each onion and discard the peels.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add the ham; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the pan. Wipe the pan with a paper towel; recoat the pan with cooking spray. Add the peeled onions and cook over medium heat 5 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and ¼ cup water; cover and cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Drizzle with the honey; stir gently. Top with the ham.

Makes 10 servings

Tia Butts is the founder and owner of Tia Butts|pr and is on the board of the Napa Farmers Market.

The Napa Farmers Market takes place each Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the parking lot of the South Napa Century Center, 195 Gasser Drive, Napa. For more information or a schedule of upcoming events, visit