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Food column: The sprouts may be out but these recipes will help you eat your greens

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Food and drink columnist Deborah Ratcliffe creates two dishes that make eating your veg fun and tasty

Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that polarise opinions – you either love ’em or hate ’em! I love them and eat them as often as possible – thinly sliced and sauteed in a little butter with walnuts or chestnuts; finely sliced in a salad with red cabbage or tossed in a roasted garlic and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Nearly forgot – they’re also totally delish sauteed in the fat oozing out of cubes of pancetta!

Unhappily for some, but perfect for me, now is the time of year when sprouts pop up on literally every festive menu.

What’s a fabulous Christmas dinner without sprouts?

There’s simply no way, for me, that a Christmas meal can be a sprout-free zone! However, my husband is certainly not a sprout lover, so for him and other like-minded sprout dissenters, I won’t force sprout recipes on you but instead try to tempt tastebuds with sprout alternatives for your greens.

Today’s recipes are sprout-free and seriously good served with turkey or whatever your festive choice is.

The spinach saute is a delicious accompaniment to any meal.

The texture of the smooth feta, crunchy walnuts and garlicky spiked spinach teams well with a rich meat dish. For extra yumminess, cook the garlic and walnuts off with tiny cubes of smoked pancetta for a more robust flavour.

This becomes a delicious snack stuffed inside a scooped-out jacket potato and crowned with a poached egg.

Roasted green cabbage is a new idea for me to cook. This recipe came from a friend, Mollie, in South Africa who cooked it for us.

Bacon draped over the cabbage helps to keep it from drying out and adds flavour. I’ve made this using both unsmoked streaky and back bacon and there was a difference between the two.

I thought the streaky more flavoursome but it shrank and left gaps so I needed to drizzle extra oil over after turning. The back bacon covered the cabbage but dried out and was rather chewy. I also had to drizzle over extra oil after turning to keep it moist.

Aesthetically the back bacon looked nicer but I preferred the more rustic look of the streaky. This is my last column before Christmas Day – I’ll be back on Boxing Day.

It’s been a long, hard year with the coronavirus hanging over our heads. Let’s hope we manage to meet friends and family over the festive season, following the guideline of the moment, and look forward together to a brighter New Year.

May I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Keep well and safe.

Roasted savoy cabbage with bacon

(Serves 4)


  • Half a cleaned large Savoy cabbage, tough outer leaves removed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 slices bacon rashers of choice


  1. Set oven to 200C/180 Fan/400F Gas mark 6.
  2. Slice the cabbage in four, leaving a small piece of core on each quarter.
  3. Place evenly on a large baking dish.
  4. Drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil and season well. Cover each piece of cabbage with the bacon rashers.
  5. Drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, turn over and remove the bacon.
  7. Drizzle over remaining oil if you think the cabbage looks dry.
  8. Carefully rearrange the bacon on the cabbage.
  9. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until the cabbage is tender.
  10. Serve immediately.

Spinach saute with walnuts and garlic

(Serves 2 as a side dish) 


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 12 walnuts broken into pieces
  • 250g spinach, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 40g feta cheese, crumbled
  • Seasoning to taste


  1. Pour the oil into a large frying pan.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and walnuts.
  3. Stir around until the garlic is just browning – make sure it doesn’t burn.
  4. Add the spinach and toss around until wilted.
  5. Fully drain off any excess liquid.
  6. Add the crumbled feta and toss around until the cheese has just warmed through.
  7. Check seasoning and add to taste.
  8. Serve immediately.