Recipe Corner: Udon Noodles with Brussels Sprouts, Walnuts and Miso Sauce

by Lorna Sass

The poor brassica family – much maligned and generally ignored in the American kitchen.

The poor reputation of turnips and Brussels sprouts and the avoidance of such intriguing vegetables as kohlrabi are the result of either unfamiliarity or a disastrous tasting experience. Indeed, the taste and smell of overcooked cabbage or rutabaga is enough to discourage any cook from getting to know this large and fascinating botanical family.

If you’d like to try a range of innovative and exciting recipes for under-used brassicas, I heartily recommend Elizabeth Schneider’s essential reference cookbook: Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini. Among the very enticing recipes this produce specialist shares are a Savory Rutabaga Tart, Gingered Colorful Kale and Apple Slaw, and Broccolini with Asian Orange Dressing.

Regarding those diminutive cabbages known as Brussels sprouts, if you aren’t already a fan, there’s a trick that is likely to win you over. Rather than cooking them whole—a technique guaranteed to overcook the outsides by the time the insides are tender--slice the Brussels sprouts for more even cooking. I made this discover about a decade ago and am now guaranteed tender-crisp, bite-sized morsels every time. I use this “sliced” approach with felicitous results in the Asian inspired recipe below.

Udon Noodles with Brussels Sprouts, Walnuts and Miso Sauce

Serves 2 to 3

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced (keep white and green parts separate)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces brown rice udon or fettucine
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dark miso
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce (shoyu or tamari)
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • A few drops toasted sesame oil

Trim off root end of Brussels sprouts. Discard any browned or damaged outer leaves. Setting each sprout down on its root end, cut into 1/4-inch slices.

Begin bringing a large pot of water to boil for the udon.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add ginger and garlic, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for about 20 seconds. Add white part of scallions, bell pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup water and the Brussels sprouts. Cover and cook until Brussels sprouts are tender-crisp and still bright green, 2 to 4 minutes. (Add a bit more water if mixture becomes dry.) Uncover skillet and set aside.

Boil udon until almost done. (Always begin checking a few minutes before package suggests.) During this time, dissolve miso in 1/2 cup noodle cooking water. Stir in rosemary and 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

When noodles are done, drain. Toss noodles, walnuts, scallion greens, and miso sauce into Brussels sprout mixture. Add more soy sauce, if needed, and toasted sesame oil to taste. Serve immediately.

Recipe copyright, Lorna Sass, 2008

Lorna Sass is a widely published food writer and an award-winning cookbook author. Her Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way cookbook won the 2007 James Beard Foundation award for the best cookbook in the Healthy Focus category. Visit her listing on our website.

Back to the October 2008 Newsletter