BrusselKale: Is the New Hybrid Vegetable a Winner?

There’s no doubt about it: vegetables have gone from the thing kids love to pick around and hide under mashed potatoes to a trendy purchase nearly everyone adores. And the vegetables that were once the least popular have blossomed into the homecoming queens of the veggie world. The proof? “Icky” Brussels sprouts and kale have had a love child, and the food media world is all abuzz.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about a hybrid vegetable, but it is perhaps the first time that the hybrid has gotten so much media attention. With the popularity that kale has enjoyed in recent years, it’s no wonder.

So what exactly is BrusselKale? Basically, what it says on the box. The new veggie is the brainchild of Rock Garden Herbs, a cross-pollinated hybrid between these two members of the brassica family. The vegetable unites the sweet fleshiness of Brussels sprouts with the crispness of kale leaves. When sautéed in a pan and browned on all sides, BrusselKale becomes sweet and caramelized like a pan-roasted Brussels sprout with the nice crunch that you’d expect from kale chips. To top it all off, this new variety has a hint of purple color, which makes it just beautiful on the plate.

If you haven’t seen BrusselKale in your local market, it may be because the veggie is being sold under several different monikers. Kalettes and Flower Sprouts — the latter particularly in the UK — are just some of the names that this new veggie goes by.

While BrusselKale may be enjoying quite a bit of media buzz, it’s far from the only hybrid to taste this season. Plum-apricot hybrids are back in markets, with several different varieties highlighting different characteristics of the two related stone fruits. While we have some time to wait before Meyer lemons are back, this kitchen staple is also a member of this hybrid family, believed to be a cross between oranges and lemons.

Of course, this sort of hybridization can go even further, bordering on Franken-fruit, which is a scary notion, particularly when GMOs are concerned. Which begs the question: is the perfect union between the best of both kale and Brussels sprouts just the beginning of much stranger combos?

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Image: Tim Sackton

Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco