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

Hurray for Brussels Sprouts!

Brussels sprouts and I have come a long way.  They used to be my most reviled vegetable and I have gone from a total hater to an absolute lover.  I thought they were stinky (which if not cooked right,  they are) and a very “strange” vegetable (I am not sure I ever came across them in Asia) that I had no idea how to cook.  I finally figured out how to cook them and therein lay the key to overcoming my utter revulsion.

The best way seems to be to blast them in a hot oven (around 425F) for 25-30 minutes or so (till desired crispiness).  Cut them into quarters and lay them on a sheet pan.  The part of the vegetable that makes contact with the baking pan gets nice and crispy and the outer layers separate and peel off, becoming almost brussel-sprout-chips like.  Someone needs to figure out a way to sell these chips in bagged form and they might see more success than potato chips.  Mix with olive oil, butter and pepper before you roast.  Salt them like french fries after you are done roasting – reduces mushiness factor.  Making sure these mini cabbages are absolutely dry before you roast them helps enhance crispiness as well.  Eat just like that, straight out of oven while crispy and crunchy.  Mix in a simple salad or make a pasta dish with balsamic roasted red onions, roasted brussels sprouts, top with some crumbled goat cheese and possibly some toasted pecans.   Perhaps a glass of red wine to accompany?

The information below is from Cooking Light and highlights the benefits of incorporating brussels sprouts into your diet.

Peak growing season: Although readily available virtually year-round, the peak season for brussels sprouts is from September to mid-February.

Health benefits: Like other cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are full of phytonutrients (natural plant compounds), which may help protect against cancer. They’re also a good source of:

  • Vitamins A and C, which help fight against such ailments as heart disease, cancer, and cataracts (one half cup of sprouts provides more than 80% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C)
  • Potassium, which helps lower blood pressure and maybe even cholesterol
  • Folate, which is necessary for normal tissue growth and may protect against cancer, heart disease and birth defects
  • Iron, necessary for maintaining red blood cell count
  • Fiber, which aids in digestion and helps lower cholesterol

Here are some recipes to check out:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts – by Ina Garten

Pan-browned Brussels Sprouts

Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Mint  – by David Chang – anything he does is good!

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Raisins

Bacon wrapped Brussels Sprouts – Genius!

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts – I am intrigued.

If you have any favorites or ideas, do share them below.  I am thinking of a way to incorporate brussels sprouts into some of my Asian creations….