Tag Archives: fall

Brussels Sprouts Cranberry Salad

Brussels sprouts salad with cranberries

2015 Winter Salad #1! This is the kind of vegetable-based meal I delight in. Manages to feel healthy and hearty at the same time, and provides a good balance of different flavors and astringencies. One important note: DO NOT overcook your Brussels sprouts. This happens fairly easily; I tend to roast vegetables until quite done and caramelized, but that’s not how these work. You want them crisp but still with a good crunch, so watch them carefully in the oven.

Lots of oven time on these ingredients; save time and dishes by toasting pumpkin seeds and walnuts in large batches ahead of time. You’ll be glad you did for future food forays, or averting hanger after a long work day.

I have alluded to this before, but the time has come (the walrus said [Brussels sprouts are a kind of cabbage, so that’s not totally uncalled for. And Europe had kings at one point])! I am off to Germany on vacation next week. Therefore, do not expect a recipe (or non-recipe as is my tendency) from me in the next fortnight. Do continue to follow me on Instagram, I endeavor to post pictures of fairy tale food and other similar adventures.

Roasting pan of Brussels sprouts salad

If you come, they will build it: lessons in supply and demand from our food giants—consumer demand is changing how large corporations are handling their supply chains, labor practices, and additives. Moral of the story: keep asking for better food.

On another note, how about a suffragette cookbook? Cake against injustice (that’s my kind of subversion…)!

Or, vegetables for justice!

Vegetable-based meal rule number one: start with the vegetable (surprise!). Brussels sprouts are truly excellent roasted, as long as you don’t overdo it (remember last year’s Brussels sprouts with bacon? Nom.)

Rule #2: Add protein: nuts and seeds, in this case (otherwise: a small amount of meat (this can add flavor too); eggs; cheese; tofu; grains like quinoa).

Rule #3 (more of a guideline really, but arguably the most important): flavor! Salt is crucial. Here, cranberries and apple cider vinegar create a sharp contrast, and a little paprika on the pumpkin seeds round it out with a smoky note.

Cranberry Brussels sprouts fall salad
1lb or so Brussels sprouts
A few handfuls of cranberries
Salt and olive oil
A handful of pumpkin seeds (pre-toasted if you can)
A handful of walnuts
A dash of apple cider vinegar

Halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts (depending on size), and roast at at least 400ºF with a little salt and oil until barely tender and crispy, not more than 20 minutes. In the last 10 minutes (or right in the beginning if you want them softer), toss in a few handfuls of cranberries.

If pumpkin seeds are not toasted yet (I usually just do it whenever roasting a pumpkin/squash), spread out on a baking sheet with a little salt, oil, and paprika (smoked or otherwise, depending on preference), and toast in the oven for at least 10 minutes, scraping up and flipping halfway through, until golden and crackly.

Toast walnuts on a baking sheet until fragrant and crunchy, about 5 minutes. This can happen while the Brussels sprouts are in the oven.

When sprouts are ready, toss with a little apple cider vinegar, then mix in the rest of the ingredients, salt to taste, and serve.

Other vinegars, like balsamic, would also substitute if you want something a little richer.

Auf wiedersehen!

Potato Leek Soup

P1030042

Before I get into potatoes, a few extraneous shares:

Most of you know this already, but you can share these reasons to cook at home (from Mark Bittman) with your friends.

Then, if you need an easy meal to get to started, try a grain bowl (from the New York Times)! Which is similar to many meals that I cook.

For flavor inspiration, check out this spice chart to pair spices from different cuisines (although thanks for telling me what cajun seasoning, or garum masala, or curry powder, consist of. Not. Oh, well).

However, you may be of the mood to instead vanquish the copious amounts of potatoes spilling out of your kitchen cupboard, and would like to pair them with delicious delicate leeks that are a traditional accompaniment (“Eat my leek!” was always one of my favorite of the Shakespeare insult playing cards I had a while ago (Henry V, Act 5, Scene 1), indicating that the person will have to retract their words. The internet also says it has something to do with Welsh heritage, although I am certainly not an expert. Despite the Bard’s influence, I assure you there is nothing shameful about eating leeks, they are rather amazing—like a mild, soft onion).

Potato leek soup is fantastically easy and shockingly delicious. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. Then add other stuff (cheese, bacon, etc.) when you get bored.

If you don’t want soup, make it into mashed potatoes and leeks by draining the water (save for another use!), adding a little butter and milk (or cream), and mashing.

P1030094

The rutabagas make it nice and golden here (this is a mix). You can peel the potatoes if you want, but I can’t be bothered. If you care about having it smooth, go for it. But I kind of like the rustic approach.

Potato leek soup
1 lb potatoes (red, gold, whatever), or a combination of potatoes and other roots (rutabaga, turnips)
3 leeks, or 2 larger ones
Butter
5-6 cups of water
Salt and pepper

To prepare the leeks, peel off one layer, then slice off a good chunk of each green part, washing underneath. You should end up with clean, mostly white slices.

Chop the potatoes into chunks and thinly slice the leeks. If you use other roots, like rutabagas, chop them smaller than the potatoes, since they take longer to cook. Melt butter in a pan and sauté the leeks and potatoes for a few minutes, until leeks are aromatic and a little soft, then add water (the amount depends on how thick you like your soup; you can always add more later if you like, but also make sure there’s enough to cover the potatoes). Bring to a boil, and simmer for at least 10 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. For soup, mash against the side of the bowl, or pull out your immersion blender and blend it all until smooth if you want it that way (I didn’t). Add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with a little cheese if you like, and serve.

Mashed, this is also good with melted cheese (I suggest cheddar) mixed in.

Yep, that easy.

Autumn-Summer Salad: Apples and Smoked Cheese

P1020939

With all the fine weather this weekend it seemed like a good time for another salad, which will probably be mostly disappearing off of my menu in the near future. So after I came home from tennis and a quick swim in the ocean (again, probably the last time for a while, and yes it was quite cold), I threw this together and was quite pleased with the result.

I often eat apples and cheese together as a quick snack (apples and peanut butter is also great), but putting it on top of a salad, with the addition mustard, makes the combination into more of meal.

You can make this with whatever greens you want; I threw in a little kale to add some oomph but I like having the lightness of the mesclun as well. It may make extra dressing—judge how much you like before mixing it all together.

Apple-cheese salad
1 tbsp mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 tsp olive oil
Fresh oregano, and/or parsley
Salt and pepper, as desired
About 4 stalks of kale, leaves only, washes and ripped apart
Mesclun, or other lettuce
1 eating apple, your favorite variety (I recommend similar to gala), cut into pieces
Smoked cheddar, cubed

Mix together mustard and vinegar, then whisk in olive oil (I generally make dressing in whatever bowl I’m eating the salad in, because fewer dishes). Taste and add other seasonings, as you wish. Put kale in the bowl with the dressing and massage it around for a while (if you don’t know about massaging kale for salads yet, do it. It’s important and makes it much more tender). Add the rest of the lettuce and toss, then throw on the apples and cheese.

This would also benefit from some nice smoked sausage. Alternatively, you could serve it as a side next to a nice roast (preferably one with lots of caramelized onions) with some crusty bread.

Enjoy the weather!