A Love Child at the Thanksgiving Table

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I recently posted this Instagram photo of something new (to me) called Kaleidoscope sprouts. I discovered that lots of others had never heard of them either. My friend Colleen commented, “My two favorite veggies had a love child?”

That is exactly what happened. Kaleidoscope sprouts, also known as flower sprouts, are a clever cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. I found them at the Twin Springs stall at my weekly farmers’ market. Aubrey the farmer, whose son grew them, told me that they grow on long thick stalks, just like Brussels sprouts. But their heads are open rather than closed. These had been cut from the stalk and were displayed loose in a bin, their green and purple ruffles piled up like so many tiny vegetable petticoats. Who could resist that?

It’s true that people used to look askance at kale and cringe at the mention of Brussels sprouts; few would have counted either among their favorite Thanksgiving sides. But that was awhile ago, before we realized their shortcomings had nothing to do with them and everything to do with the way we mistreated them in the kitchen.

Once I got the sprouts home i looked at them closely (they resembled baby heads of romaine lettuce, only sturdier) and pondered what to do with them. My friend Meeta, who lives in Germany and had heard of them, chimed in on Twitter with some good suggestions: lightly sautéing them in olive oil with garlic, onion, and sliced almonds (or pine nuts or hazelnuts); or cooking them with slow-roasted tomatoes and a finishing with a grating of pecorino cheese.

I was looking for the simplest preparation possible, since (as some of you know) I’ve been without a working kitchen since mid-September and have been doing all my cooking on an electric hot plate in the garage. (I’ve been assured that this culinary limbo really is ending soon, allegedly before Thanksgiving. Hmmm.)

I went with Meeta’s recommendation for sautéing the sprouts in garlic-infused olive oil ~ not too long ~ until they were wilted and just tender, still a little crunchy. Towards the end of cooking I added a shower of sliced almonds and, right before serving, Parmigiano cheese. They tasted just like they should ~ earthy and a little bitter (the Brussels sprouts side of the family) but milder than Brussels sprouts and even a bit sweet (the kale side of the family).

This easy recipe is a good jumping-off point for any number of variations, any of which would be fine for Thanksgiving. You could, as Meeta suggests, stir in some slow-roasted tomatoes. You could scrape the wilted flowers into a lightly oiled gratin dish, sprinkle with cheese and bread crumbs and bake until browned; you could toss them with a warm bacon vinaigrette for a winter salad. Beyond side dish possibilities, you could chop them up and use them in a frittata or on top of pizza. And ~ at our house at least ~ there’s always the option to toss with pasta.

Buon Appetito and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you,


Makes 4 to 6 servings

Sautéed  Kaleidoscope Sprouts

If you are unable to find these pretty sprouts, you can use either kale or Brussels sprouts (or a combination of both), but be sure to cut the Brussels sprouts in half to reduce their cooking time.


  • 12 ounces to 1 pound Kaleidoscope sprouts (also known as flower sprouts) or a combination of kale and Brussels sprouts
  • About 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced paper-thin
  • 1 small fresh chile pepper, chopped, or a generous pinch red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced blanched almonds
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, to taste


Cut the ends off the flower sprouts and rinse them well. Heat the oil, garlic, and chile pepper in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic slices are softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add the flower sprouts, with the rinse water still clinging to them, cover and raise the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, until they are just beginning to wilt. Toss with tongs or a spatula, cover again, and cook for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Sprinkle the almonds over the sprouts and toss to combine. Cook, uncovered, for another 5 minutes, or until the sprouts are tender, but still a little crunchy at the stem end (if you pierce the stem end with a fork you should encounter a little resistance). Sprinkle the Parmigiano cheese on top of the sprouts and serve.

Recipe copyright 2012 Domenica Marchetti

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27 Responses to A Love Child at the Thanksgiving Table

  1. Laura (Tutti Dolci) November 18, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    Beautiful sprouts, I love the idea of adding slow-roasted tomatoes!

    • Domenica November 19, 2012 at 9:31 am #

      Yes, I do too, Laura. That’s the preparation I’m going to try next, I think. Thanks for reading.

  2. Meeta November 19, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    Oh Domenica, I came here excited to see what you did with them and was pleasantly surprised ;o) There are many ways of using these sprouts, with crispy bacon or like you said on pizza or mixed in with eggs. Every time I do see them I smile as the name alone – Kaleidoscope sprouts – makes me want to grab a huge bagful. Glad you liked the suggestion!

    • Domenica November 19, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      Meeta ~ I hope you’re not disappointed ; ) I loved your ideas. Once I get my kitchen up and running I’m going to do more experimenting. I think these sprouts would also be good in a stir-fry, don’t you? Cheers and thanks, my friend.

  3. Aviva Goldfarb November 19, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Never heard of Kaleidoscope Sprouts but not I’m going to be looking for them and can’t wait to try your recipe! I’m a huge fan of both kale and Brussels sprouts so now I’m excited to try something new in the same family. Thanks, Domenica!

    • Domenica November 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      Thanks for reading Aviva. These aren’t mainstream yet, but they strike me as the sort of hybrid that has lots of appeal ~ sort of like broccolini.

  4. elisa November 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Last year my neighbour planted a bunch of them in his garden. I never heard of them until then. He gave me quite a bit of the crop and I cooked them with pancetta, garlic, olive oil and shaved parmigiano. Che buoni!!! Thank you for the post……….He buys the seeds from:


    • Domenica November 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      Thanks for the link Elisa! Johnny’s has such a great selection of vegetables (and more). If I find more sprouts at the farmers market tomorrow I’m going to make them with pancetta for Thanksgiving. Cheers, D

  5. Betty Ann @Mango_Queen November 20, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    What an interesting salad! Frankly I’ve never heard of Kaleidoscope sprouts, but now I’m glad I’m getting such helpful info from you and a great recipe at that! Thanks for generously sharing this, Domenica! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! I am grateful for your kindness and friendship. You’re so inspiring!

    • Domenica November 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

      Thanks for your kind words Betty Ann. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  6. Judy @Savoring Today November 20, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    How lovely, I must find some! Love trying new things and incorporating more and more vegetables into our meals. Thanks!

    • Domenica November 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

      Thanks Judy. I hope you’re able to find them. They’re not widely available yet ~ but I’m betting they will be before too long.

  7. Frank @Memorie di Angelina November 20, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    I’m one of those weird people who actually likes brussel sprouts, so this looks fantastic to me. You always find such interesting new types of produce, Domenica!

    And not only did I learn about a green I had never heard of, I found out though your link to Twin Springs that there’s a farmers market where I can find it literally (almost) right around the corner on Democracy Blvd! I’ve been looking for a near-by farmer’s market even since we moved to Bethesda… that news I can use. :=)

    • Domenica November 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

      Oh good! So glad you found that market. Also, I didn’t know you are local! We’ll have to get together for un caffe’! Cheers, D

  8. janie November 22, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    I hope I can find these somewhere. I’m going to the Santa Barbara farmers’ market in a few weeks and it’s a wonderful market so maybe I’ll find them there. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Domenica November 25, 2012 at 12:47 am #

      Good luck in your search Janie. If you have a garden, you can always order seeds (see link to Johnny’s in the post).

  9. Jamie November 24, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Well, put you and Meeta together and I would only expect something stupendous! Who would have thought to find something that I would only envision as salad actually turned into a warm, flavorful side dish. Kudos to you both!

    • Domenica November 25, 2012 at 12:48 am #

      Thanks my friend. I haven’t tried the sprouts as a salad, but I’ll bet they would be great, especially with a nice tart dressing. Yum.

  10. Karen November 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    How beautiful! I’ve always had a thing for purple and green colors in vegetables (or in anything, really), and could happily eat kale and Brussels sprouts any day of the week. I’m glad for the link to Johnny’s for seeds since I will have to try this in my garden – unusual produce is hard to find where I am, even in the seasonal farmer’s markets.

    • Domenica November 25, 2012 at 12:46 am #

      Thanks for your comment Karen. I agree about the purple-green color combination. I’ve seen some gorgeous green and purple cauliflower this fall as well. I have only seen these sprouts at my local farmers’ market ~ and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the seeds came from Johnny’s. Cheers, D

  11. AdriBarr November 29, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    Domenica, Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    I have not found these little darlings in LA yet, but that has not stopped me from talking to green grocers from the San Fernando Valley to Santa Monica. I will keep on the hunt. My sister is wild about Brussels sprouts, and I know she will join in the search. Thanks for the intro.

  12. Jacqueline October 19, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Picked up this fro twin spings today, googled what to do wiyh them and voila! Will be trying out your recipe sounds yummy.

    • Domenica Marchetti October 19, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

      So glad you found the site, Jacqueline. I just bought some from Twin Springs at my little Wednesday market. They’re so good. Enjoy!


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    […] and a bit sweet, they’re delicious sautéed with garlic, chile, Parmigiano and almonds, as in this recipe from cookbook author Domenica […]

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