Saturday Salad

Most Saturdays around lunchtime you’ll probably find my family chomping on pho, tortas, tacos, dim sum or about a million other delicious things we did not cook. Saturday lunches out with the fam are the best — cheap and low key, a little treat to ourselves for making it through another week.

As much as we love eating great food and not doing the dishes, once in a while we do find ourselves at home on a Saturday at the stroke of lunch o’clock. Thankfully Tim, our resident expert omelet maker, is usually happy to oblige us with his Jacques Pepin-like skills. If left to me, I usually gather whatever hodge podge leftovers we have in the fridge and call it a day. But once in a while inspiration strikes like this salad which was so, so good that I just had to share it. A happy accident of random ingredients in our refrigerator (vegetables, good sour dough bread, grapefruit juice) — I know I will make this one again… but this time on purpose.

Here’s to Saturdays!

Saturday Salad

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Carrots: Pre-heat a lightly oiled cookie sheet in a hot oven (425 degrees). The vegetables (halved brussels sprouts and carrots cut on the bias – both tossed with olive oil and a pinch of sugar) will sizzle as they hit the pan. Start checking them after 2o minutes and remove them when they are tender and golden around the edges. Hit them with a sprinkle of kosher salt and some finely minced parsley and mint. To help you roast each vegetable to perfection, you can cook the brussels sprouts and carrots on two separate baking sheets or at either end of one large cookie sheet.

Rustic Breadcrumbs: Grab a few slices of bread (a rustic loaf is best, we like sourdough) and tear them up by hand into smaller than crouton-sized pieces. Toss them lightly with olive oil then place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and your favorite spices (sumac and paprika in our case). Put them in the oven alongside the vegetables, checking and tossing them every 5 minutes or so and removing them when they are dry and crisped. Break up any too-chunky bits into smaller pieces.

Grapefruit-Shallot Vinaigrette: Finely mince one small shallot and place it in a bowl along with 1 Tablespoon of champagne vinegar, 2 Tablespoons of grapefruit juice and a 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard, as well as a big pinch of salt and pepper. Let it sit to macerate for about 15 minutes. While you whisk, slowly drizzle in about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Keep whisking until your dressing comes together and is nicely emulsified. Taste and adjust to your liking adding more salt, oil, grapefruit juice, vinegar or a pinch of sugar as needed.

Assemble the Salad: This salad benefits from being  layered vs. being tossed in a big salad bowl. Artfully arrange your baby spinach leaves, roasted vegetables, and breadcrumbs on a big platter or individual plates, drizzling with dressing as you go.

You might also like: Crispy Caramelized Cauliflower (aka “vegetable candy”); Jumping on the Crispy Kale Bandwagon; Hurray for Brussels Sprouts

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Pasta with Broccoli and Breadcrumbs

Here’s a recipe that has saved the day at Casa Stacie on more than a few occasions. Breadcrumbs on pasta may sound kind of weird, but trust me, it’s major yum. The breadcrumbs provide both crunch and a delectable toasty-ness, a nice change of pace from the usual sauced pasta. I also love this recipe because it’s quick and super frugal. You’ll feel like a hero when you throw it together on one of those days when you never managed to make it to the market and there’s nothing but a head of broccoli staring back at you in the refrigerator. The other ingredients are so basic, you’ll probably find them in your pantry: pasta, breadcrumbs, garlic, olive oil, a lemon and some parmegiano reggiano. [PS: here’s a good trick on keeping lemons fresh]

Pasta with Broccoli and Breadcrumbs

DIY Breadcrumbs — Homemade breadcrumbs really do make all the difference so if you can find the time to make them, it’s worth it. Just chuck leftover bread crusts and slightly stale pieces in a freezer bag. When the bag is full, let them thaw and blitz them in food processor until you have coarse crumbs. If you want a little extra nutritional boost, you can throw in some wheat germ or golden flax seed with the bread. Then toast the crumbs on a cookie sheet until they are crisp and dry. Approx 10 minutes at 350. Make a bunch and store them in an air tight container — your pantry will thank you!

  1. Toss breadcrumbs with good olive oil and a few pinches of salt to taste. Use at least 1 cup of crumbs per pound of pasta. I always like to make a little extra because they’re so, so yummy. Toss the olive oil-coated crumbs in a hot pan until they’re nice and toasty.
  2. Wash and trim broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Cook until tender crisp (steam, saute or even microwave with a a few tablespoons of water).
  3. Cook your pasta until al dente in well-salted water.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, mince several cloves of garlic and saute in olive oil until they just begin to turn golden.
  5. Immediately add the cooked pasta and broccoli and toss. Sprinkle with half the breadcrumbs and toss well again. Add a sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a generous grating of parmegiano reggiano. Taste and adjust seasoning. You can add a few spoons of pasta water if you want a moister dish.
  6. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs (a little minced parsley would be good too, but it’s totally optional). You can reserve some crumbs for sprinkling at the table if you like along with some parmegiano, good olive oil and lemon wedges.