THE BRUSSELS ARE HERE.

Stopped at the grocery this afternoon thinking I would just pick up a bottle of wine and some sort of veggie for dinner since I had everything else I needed to throw together a meal. Instead, I saw what I’ve been waiting for all summer. There they were…brussel sprouts.

A whole stack of those baby cabbage head-wrapped stalks was right in front of me. Eyes wide, I stared in disbelief for a moment and then, suddenly, I wanted to wield one in each hand and run around the store exclaiming, “THE BRUSSELS ARE HERE. THE BRUSSELS ARE HERE.” I suppressed that urge and picked out just one stalk and put it in my cart.

wpid-20151029_194227-1.jpgI knew instantly what I was going to make, so I added pomegranate, Meyer lemon, shallots, garlic, pecans, bacon, cheese, and yogurt to the buggy. Grabbed a bottle of wine and headed home to start on my favorite ever salad–raw brussel salad with a citrus shallot dressing.

This is a salad I devour throughout the brussel sprout season. I seem to never tire of it and with a few variations, it’s kept fresh. This one also pairs well with different main courses or by itself for lunch.

Start with the dressing. Extra virgin olive oil and plainwpid-20151029_183330-1.jpg
greek yogurt form the base to carry the flavors of the Meyer lemon, chopped garlic and shallot, honey and whole sprigs of fresh thyme. I prepare this first so those flavors can meld together before adding to the salad. I like looking at the pretty levels of colors that form in the jar before it’s shaken up. But you gotta shake it. Shake it real good. Then set aside in the fridge, drop the bacon in the frying pan, and get to the tedious part of the process.

Chopping. Chop, chop, chop it up, people. This is a raw brussel salad, so the little heads must be popped off the stalk, outside leaves removed, and then chopped finely to a shredded lettuce texture. It takes about 30-40 brussels depending on the size. The stalk I brought home had medium to small heads on it, so I actually ended up using about 45-50. That’s a lot of chopping, but I love working with a good knife. It’s meditative. Once they’re shredded, cover them with cold water and let soak while you prepare the pecans and pomegranate.

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Pomegranates are another delight of the season for me. I eat a lot of them while they’re available. Now that I’ve learned the way to get the seeds out easily, I love them even more. For appearances, they add that pop of vibrant red to liven up the salad, but they also bring a unique texture and taste to the table. I used a heaping cup full of those beauties.

 

At that point, the brussels were strained, rinsed one more time, and then spread out on kitchen towels. While they were drying, I prepared about 3/4 cup of chopped pecans, shredded some pecorino medoro, and cut the cooked bacon.

Thrown together, the flavors, textures, and colors create a scrumptious salad for the season and it’s quite lovely to look at as well…

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I hope you all enjoy this seasonal salad as much as I do! I’ve included substitution options in the ingredient list which include a vegetarian way.

I’d love to hear about your own variations and how they worked out.

Dressing:

One shallot chopped

Fresh thyme leaves

Garlic, small clove

Meyer lemons, juice of two lemons

Extra virgin olive oil, about 1/2 cup

Plain Greek yogurt, 2 heaping tablespoons

Honey, 1 heaping tablespoon

salt & pepper to taste

 

Salad Ingredients:

Brussel sprouts, about 3 1/2-4 cups chopped

Half to 3/4 of a pomegranate (or substitute one package of low-sugar craisins)

Bacon, 4 slices (or substitute pistachios for that salty, “meaty” flavor)

Pecans, 3/4-1 cup (or walnuts if you prefer)

Pecorino cheese, 1/2 cup shredded (I’ve also used goat cheese and it was very good)

 

 

 

 

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Meatless Monday: Black Beans, Quinoa, and…

One of my go-to, easy recipes for any night that I’m too tired to care is the simple dish of black beans and quinoa. I do sometimes make the traditional version with rice, but most of the time when I’m that tired, I’m looking for that extra protein punch from the quinoa. The leftover quinoa–because I way overdo it when making it, just like with pasta–is also good to have in the mornings with a couple of over easy eggs and avocado.

To start, I use the tri-colored quinoa mix for no particular reason other than I like the way it looks. I add coconut oil and spices like oregano and cumin to the water when cooking it to infuse some flavors. While that is doing its thing, I chop up white onion, fresh cloves of garlic, and red pepper and saute those in olive oil. Once the onions are starting to brown, I pour in the can of black beans with the liquid. Remember, these are the no-energy-to-care nights, so your preferred style of canned black beans are just fine.

After adding the beans, I toss in some oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, and salt & pepper (I like to add fresh garden basil when I have it in season near the end) and let all that simmer together while the quinoa finishes up. Sometimes I like to have a green veggie with my meal, as well. Depending on what is in season or what I have around it could be zucchini or broccoli or a small salad of spinach and arugula with a homemade shallot dressing.

But my secret, no-prepping or cooking needed veggie addition that I absolutely adore with my black beans, regardless of whether I’m having them with quinoa or rice, as tacos, or on a salad, is Slawsa. Slawsa is a really cool condiment that is a slaw/salsa mix. My favorites are the Low Sugar and Fire styles. It’s really good with a variety of foods, from topping hot dogs and burgers to spicing up deviled eggs, but there’s something about the Fire flavor in the same bite as the garlicky beans that I’m obsessed with.

wpid-img_20150914_185634.jpgPlus, it adds that purty color to my meal and we all know how important the look of the meal is to me for that all-encompassing enjoyment. That’s it. Easy peasy black bean dinner for Meatless Mondays or those nights when your garden of cares has clearly gone dormant.

 

Ingredients

One 15 ounce can of black beans

1 cup quinoa

1 tablespoon coconut oil for the quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil for the saute

Cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, s&p (or any of your liking)

Garlic cloves

Green veggie of your preference

Slawsa

 

Roasted Chickpeas with Other Hippy Dippy Trappings

I’ve had this stack of canned chickpeas in my pantry for a while now. I go through phases of bean buying and at some point I must have had the thought that I would love a ton of chickpeas in my life. Sometimes I will use them straight on salads, but I haven’t done that in a while and these cans have been glaring at me every time I look in the pantry. They must be Catholic because the guilt coming off of them is strong.

Tonight was their night. I was tired after a weekend of gardening and painting, so I needed something easy to prepare and shovel down my yap.

I’ve seen various recipes pop up for roasted chickpeas recently and decided I would try that. Seemed simple enough:  chickpeas, oil, oven time, spices of your choice. It wasn’t baking, so I was confident mixing multiple recipe ideas and creating my own version.

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To get started, I drained the chickpeas and then rolled them between a clean dishtowel until they were dry. Pulled out the skins that came off in the drying process and then tossed them in a bowl with a combo of coconut and olive oil and salt. Coated them well and then spread out on a cookie sheet.

Into a 400 degree oven they went on the middle rack and I set the timer for 25 mins. Meanwhile, I looked in the fridge to see what I could eat with them. Found some leftover quinoa and broccoli. That would do. I sliced a whole shallot, two big cloves of garlic, and one garden jalapeno and sauteed those before adding the quinoa at the end just to reheat.

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About 10 mins. in, I turned the chickpeas and added the broccoli, which I had tossed in olive oil and a little pinch of salt, to the baking sheet. While I waited for those to roast, I mixed up about 2 tablespoons of various spices. You can use just about whatever you like from dried spices to fresh cut herbs. I went with cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, a  little cayenne, and dried basil–since my garden fresh basil is gone now. Sad face.

They ended up taking more like 30 mins. to really wpid-wp-1443392856515.jpg
crisp up and while they were still oily hot from the oven, I poured the spices on top and stirred until evenly coated. They smelled and looked delicious. Tested one and they had a suberb crunch to them. Instant textural addiction.

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The quinoa went into a bowl with the broccoli next and then the crispy roasted chickpeas of delight on top. I have to say that I’m glad those mofos guilted me into finally using them. Those little nuggets of yum had the perfect pop.

The leftovers will go on my lunch salad tomorrow and will be so much better than just boring beans straight from the can. Now I’m full and dreaming of pie. Why didn’t I make a pie today? Someone bring me pie. Made with butter. A lot of butter.