Cuisine Fiend

brussels sprouts with parmesan and walnuts


Sprouts with parmesan

Whether you like them or not, and I’m not a huge fan, sprouts ride onto the tables around Christmas time and through the winter. And rightly so – spot-on seasonal. You wouldn’t want asparagus with Christmas lunch, or a salad caprese. And if you would – you must be just plain weird...

Sprouts needn’t be cooked for very long but they do like a bit of butter so it’s best to blanch them first and finish off with a few flavoursome bits and pieces to give them zing. The classic way is to add cooked chestnuts and/or bacon. I’ve cooked them this time with three kinds of crumbs: nuts, parmesan and bread, and it all works very well.

For a vegetarian option of course leave out the bacon. The fennel and caraway seeds add flavour – and by the way, caraway reduces the, shall we say, unpleasant side effects of eating too many sprouts…

brussels sprouts with parmesan and walnuts

Servings: 4-6Time: about 40 minutes


  • 500g fresh Brussels sprouts, or one of those impressive sprout sticks
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • 2-3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, diced (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3-4 tbsp. grated parmesan
  • about 30g shelled walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. dry breadcrumbs

Sprout stick


1. Clean and trim the sprouts, halve very large ones, reserve a handful of some unblemished outer leaves. Place them in a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and refresh with cold water.

Blanched sprouts

2. Roughly grind the fennel and caraway seeds in pestle and mortar. Optional - fry the diced bacon in a small skillet until crisp.

3. Whiz the walnuts in a blender or a food processor for a few seconds so that there are both small chunks as well as some more finely ground.

Crushed walnuts

4. Place a large dry pan over medium heat and add the crushed fennel and caraway seeds, toss them about once or twice to release the flavour. If using bacon, add it to the seeds, then add in the sprouts with the butter. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the reserved outer leaves, so that they barely cook and retain the vibrant colour.

5. Add ¾ of the walnuts, half the parmesan and stir in. When almost ready to serve, transfer the sprouts to an ovenproof serving dish, sprinkle most of the remaining parmesan and the breadcrumbs and blast under a hot grill for a few seconds, top with the rest of the parmesan.

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