Saturday, October 24, 2009

Revisiting Brussels Sprouts and Surviving...

To continue our series on cooking foods that I have historically LOATHED (see squash)...tonight I made a pasta dish inspired by p. 66 of Real Simple's November 2009 issue AND my local farmer's market.

Brussels Sprouts. Yes. I HATE (did hate) brussels sprouts. When I was a child, my parents would grant me an additional prerogative of my choosing every birthday. The first one I picked was to no longer have to eat brussels sprouts. My mother even wrote it up by decree and signed it with a wax seal. I'm fairly certain I have not eaten brussels sprouts since I was thirteen or so. Of all vegetables, the gag factor for brussels sprouts was the highest (maybe tied with eggplant).

So, again, overcome by my need to partake of New England's regional bounty of autumn veggies, I spotted some brussels sprouts at this morning's farmer's market. I remembered Martha Stewart trying to convince me (via TV) that they really were quite wonderful when grown at home and prepared right off the stalk, so, $3 later---I walked home with a stalk of sprouts.

I learned from Real Simple that brussels sprouts are "cruciferous" veggies full of good things like Vitamin C, dietary fiber and potassium. The sprouts I bought bore little to no resemblance to the awful things I've eaten in California. These were very small, green and looked slightly less threatening.

Taking my cue from page 66, I decided to roast them in the oven with some olive oil, sea salt, and pepper for use in a pasta. Despite some over-roasting issues, the ended up working quite well in the pasta (see below for my original recipe). VERDICT? palatable. :)


  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
  • three large links fresh sweet italian lamb sausage (or sausage of your choice)
  • 1-2 stalks of brussels sprouts (depending on size)--the smaller the sprout, the sweeter
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • one large lump fresh mozzarella (as fresh as possible--I got mine at the farmer's market, made right here in Somerville) (shaved, or grated)
  • garlic powder
  • black truffle oil
  • dried parsley
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • Preheat oven to 425 F.
  • In medium to large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil (med-high heat).
  • Remove sprouts from stalk, clean, and cut in half lengthwise. On a baking sheet, place the sprouts face down, and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Roast in oven for 5-10 minutes, then set aside.
  • Start water boiling for pasta.
  • In heated oil, add sliced sausage, cooking through. Add hazlenuts and dried parsley to taste, stirring frequently. You may wish to discard the oil/grease from the sausage, or you can use it in lieu of additional olive oil.
  • cook spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Drain, then add to skillet with sausage, etc.
  • Toss in the brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon black truffle oil, a pinch of garlic powder and mozzarella, and toss until heated through. Serve warm!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Real Simple Recipes":Oct and Nov 2009

One of my favorite pieces of mail is the monthly arrival of Real Simple magazine, courtesy of a gift subscription from my mother. My absolute favorite part of the magazine is the recipes which do tend to be simple and healthy. I like recipes that I can cook during the week, but are a little more exciting than dumping two cans of beans in a pot with some canned tomatoes and chili mix.
In the past week or so, I made the following recipes:
Tilapia with Peppers and Olives (Real Simple, October 2009)
  • tilapia + green olives + lime = awesome
  • yellow cauliflower IS slightly sweeter than white cauliflower
  • if you cook tilapia too long, it still tastes good, but it falls apart from the filet
  • I don't like squash, in general. But living in New England in autumn makes one want to like squash. Not only did I like this squash, I'd make it again for a Thanksgiving meal. Make it for your friends who do not like squash and see what they say. The mint and scallions made a wonderful combination and the texture of spaghetti squash is much more pleasant than other squashes.
  • Don't mess with lamb too much. So much flavor right there.
RATING: A, Solid A

Spicy Rice with (Chicken) and Chorizo (Real Simple, November 2009)--not yet available online, but part of their "10 Fresh Ideas for Turkey Leftovers".

  • Ok, so I used chicken instead of turkey.
  • Since I used pre-cooked chorizo links (Applegate Farms), I added some salt, garlic powder and a touch of paprika because the flavor of the chorizo wouldn't permeate the rice as much. I also heated the chorizo in some olive oil to help distribute the flavors. This probably isn't necessary with chorizo in crumbled form.
  • Next time I might add some canned tomatoes to give it a bit more of a spanish rice feel.