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sproutsSprouts are a traditional feature of the festive table, but often get a bad wrap. This is largely due to poor quality raw ingredients or bad cooking. When choosing sprouts, go for small, tight, green sprouts, with no hint of yellow. Sprouts should smell sweet and not pungent or cabbage-y in any way. Those that come still attached to the stalk may look a bit trendy, but the stem enables the sprouts to continue to thrive on the nutrients held within the stem itself, and helps to keep them fresh.

Boil or steam walnut-sized sprouts for about six minutes – this way the sprouts will be cooked, but retain a bit of bite. After cooking your sprouts, it’s enough to simply toss them in some melted butter or good olive oil with plenty of black pepper. To ring the changes, try scattering over some chilli flakes or toasted almonds.

Other flavours that work well with sprouts are juniper, garlic, fennel and caraway. For a sprouty side dish for a game bird, pan fry some finely sliced shallots (about 3 for 500g of sprouts) in some olive oil. Add a crushed garlic clove and around two teaspoons of crushed juniper berries until everything is soft. To the same pan, add the sprouts, 300ml of vegetable stock, then cover and simmer for ten minutes. Season and serve.

If you really can’t stand the idea of cooked sprouts, raw sprouts make a great salad. Finely slice them and toss in a bowl together with some lemon zest and juice, thyme leaves, chilli flakes and olive oil. Add a scattering of hazelnuts and some crumbled goat’s cheese and mix to combine. Delicious!

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