Brussels Sprouts with almonds and garlic

I couldn’t be happier about the popularity boost of the humble Brussels sprout.  After all, they are less bitter than regular cabbage, are packed with nutritional punch, and can be prepared in many different ways.  (One of my favorites is sauteing the sprouts with maple-glazed bacon and hazelnuts–quite delightful!)

However, today I wanted to try something different with the tiny cabbages.  I was looking for something similar to a slaw, yet with a more filling nature.  I think this dish hits the mark!  The nuttiness from the almonds and the cheese adds a richness to the dish, not to mention a bit of protein.  To boot, the dish only takes 20 minutes from cutting board to table.  I’m willing to bet that a few Brussels sprouts haters will reconsider their aversion after trying this dish.

Brussels Sprouts with Almonds and Garlic
This salad is also good cold, although I would omit the cheese.  Serves 2.
1 lb Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup almonds, chopped
large pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
Romano or Parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)
Cut the bottom end off each Brussels sprout.  Slice thinly.  Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, being careful not to brown it.  Add the chopped almonds and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the sliced Brussels sprouts, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the sprouts  become bright green and are slightly wilted.  Remove from heat and top with cheese, if desired.


Warm Red Cabbage Salad

The cold weather has officially hit, and I find myself craving more hearty, stick-to-your-ribs food; salads aren’t typically included in this category.  However, one of my coworkers brought this salad for lunch last week, and the scent wafting across the table motivated me to buy a 3-pound red cabbage at the farmer’s market this past weekend.

The recipe comes from one of my favorite sites, 101 Cookbooks.  I love Heidi’s food philosophy, her photography, and her delicious creations.  I have yet to be disappointed by one of her recipes, and this warm red cabbage salad was no exception.

The dish can be whipped up in a mere 30 minutes, making it perfect for a quick, light dinner.  However, if you’re anything like me, you may enjoy this salad so much that you find yourself eating it at all times of the day.  Believe me, it’s really that good.

Warm Red Cabbage Salad
(Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
If you go to Heidi’s site, you’ll notice that she coats the sunflower seeds with sugar.  However, as advised by my coworker, the salad is already quite sweet due to the raisins, so I chose to omit this step.  Also, although this salad is wonderful alone, it is very tasty if accompanied by wild rice.  Makes 4-6 servings.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 shallot, diced
1 pound red cabbage, thinly shredded
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
lemon juice (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and sauté the onion, garlic, and shallot until soft.  Stir in the cabbage, and add a few pinches of salt.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add the rosemary, sunflower seeds, raisins, and vinegar.  Stir and cook until the cabbage softens a bit, but still has crunch.  Fold in the feta cheese and lemon juice (if desired).  Season with more salt if needed.

Vegetarian Chili with Black Beans

Although I don’t consider myself a vegetarian, I would much rather eat a bowl filled with roasted vegetables than a juicy steak.  When it comes to chili, then, I am drawn to vegetarian versions, with lots of vegetables, beans, and complex spices.  I found this recipe on Simply Recipes one Saturday morning and, after a quick trip to the farmer’s market, the ingredients were happily bubbling in my favorite green pot.

This chili is a wonderful mid-week meal, as it only takes about an hour to prepare, most of which is time spent simmering.  Served with a topping of sharp cheddar cheese and a side of homemade cornbread, I doubt that even the most devoted meat eaters would turn down a bowl.

Veggie Chili in Green Pot

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Thai Pumpkin Soup

I love the farmer’s market, especially in fall.  Although the excitement of summer tomatoes, corn and zucchini is over by now, the thought of shopping for pumpkins, squash, cipollini onions, and frost-kissed spinach makes me squeal with delight.  This past Saturday, as I strolled around the square, bundled enough to guard from the chilly breeze, I couldn’t stop staring at all the beautiful pumpkins.  Blue pumpkins, white pumpkins, carving pumpkins, pumpkin pie pumpkins-the list goes on!  I had to buy one.

After talking with one of the pumpkin vendors, I decided on a blue-gray pumpkin (I can’t recall the name) that was supposed to have a bright orange flesh and sweet flavor.  I waddled home with the five pound beauty, visions of pumpkin dishes running through my head.

I remembered seeing a tempting Thai pumpkin soup on Heidi’s site a while back, and, after revisiting the recipe, could not imagine a more fitting use for the morning’s purchase.  A purée of sweet, roasted pumpkin, combined with the heat of red curry paste, this soup is sure to please on a cold fall day.  For an extra treat, make sure to toast the seeds with salt and cinnamon to serve alongside.

Blue Pumpkin

Thai Pumpkin Soup
(adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
I topped this soup with a papaya-ginger yogurt sauce and, as hinted to above, toasted pumpkin seeds.  The dish received RAVE reviews!  Also, make sure you have a sharp knife handy before attempting to cut the pumpkin into wedges.  The hefty task  took my skimpy muscles 30 minutes!
1 large pumpkin
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cinnamon
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
2 cans coconut milk
1 small jar Thai red curry paste (about 1/4 cup)
1 quart vegetable stock
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the pumpkin into small wedges and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Drizzle the pumpkin with olive oil, and sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and black pepper.  Roast until the pumpkin is fully cooked, approximately 1 hour.
Scoop the flesh from the pumpkin and place in a large stockpot.  Add the coconut milk and curry paste.  Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat  for 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until silky smooth.  Alternatively, puree the soup in batches using a regular blender.  As always, be extremely careful not to burn yourself from the steam.  At this point, the soup is extremely thick.  Thin the mixture out with vegetable stock until your ideal texture is reached.  Adjust seasonings accordingly and serve.