Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

b-sprouts pomegranate 

My brussels sprouts default is a toss up between some roasting action or pan-frying. Either way, they’re cooked until golden, almost charred in places and caramelized.But sometimes it’s nice to keep it simple.Raw brussels sprouts have a really nice delicate flavor and a great yielding crunch, when sliced thin.

Ideally you’d use a mandolin for this thin-slicing, but if you’re like me and don’t have one because you’re afraid that: a.) superfluous kitchen tools will one day swallow your kitchen, or, b.) you might seriously hurt yourself on one; you can just use an old fashioned knife and give it your best shot at “thin.”

I mixed the thinly sliced b-sprouts with some cooked and cooled barley for a nice chew factor, along with toasted pecans for an almost-caramel-ly nutty crunch and pomegranate seeds for color, pop, and tartness.

To round it all out I drizzled a simple maple Dijon vinaigrette over the thing and called it lunch.

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Buckwheat Crepes with Brie and Mushrooms

buckwheat crepes
When faced with a good brunch menu, every restaurant-goer agonizes over the sweet or savory meal conundrum….Right? Is this just me?

During the week I’m on autopilot with breakfast. It’s always some variation of yogurt, fruit and oats. Oatmeal with fruit, yogurt with fruit, yogurt with oats and fruit.

But when the weekend rolls around, I like breakfast to be an event. A leisurely late breakfast where I pay people bring be strong coffee and warm food is at the top of my “treat yo’self” list.

Since I usually lean toward the fruity and sweet during the week, Saturday morning I wake up thinking of buttered bread, oozy egg yolks and melted cheese.

But sometimes that unexpected french toast with fruit compote, pecans and maple puts a snag in my ordering plans and changes everything I thought I knew I wanted from my brunch.

Maybe my dining partner will agree to share a “breakfast dessert”? That’s not a crazy idea, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be on the same page.

(Full disclosure: Fabes is always up for a breakfast dessert. Which is why we’re getting married.)

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Green Beans with Chili and Roasted Red Peppers

I’m trying to plan a Thanksgiving for two.

We had an Australian version of the holiday last week, but I wanted to plan something closer to the actual day.

With the exception of pasta, I’m pretty skilled at figuring how much food will feed me and my very strong and handsome fiancé, and leave me a little extra for lunch the next day. (I just can’t figure out dammed dried pasta portioning!)

But a Thanksgiving feast for two is a whole different gig. I want a range of foods and familiar dishes just like the real thing, but I don’t want to have an out of control leftover situation.

So far, here’s my plan of attack:

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Pumpkin and White Bean Patties with Rosemary

Is pumpkin the new bacon? Discuss.

The virtues of salty, crispy bacon aside, I’m always and forever all-in for pumpkin. I’ll take it sweet or savory, roasted or pureed, spiced or herb-flecked.

This time of year, there are pumpkin and pumpkin pie-spiced (an entity unto itself) recipes everywhere. I love butternut squash and pumpkin dishes all year round but I lean toward the savory ones most of the time.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll see no shortage of pumpkin or butternut squash recipes here – especially savory ones – because it’s what I’m cooking. Even as we ramp up for summer here in Australia I still have a massive hunger for all things (American) Northeast October and fall-ish. I can’t help it. Luckily the weather in Sydney is accommodating my pumpkin roasting habits.

These pumpkin and white bean patties are a good way to use some pumpkin purée (be it left over or specifically made for this purpose) – they’re simple to make and require only a few pantry things. If you don’t have/don’t like rosemary – I think sage or thyme would be pretty awesome too.

I think these would even go well with some bacon – if we want to be diplomatic about it.

Pumpkin party worldwide.

PUMPKIN & WHITE BEAN WITH ROSEMARY

Makes 8 patties.

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (or 1 15-ounce can)
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of rolled oats
  • a handful of Parmesan cheese (optional)

To make your own pumpkin purée: Place cut and peeled pumpkin on a baking tray with 1/2 inch to 1 inch of water in it. Bake at 400 F/205 C for 20-30 minutes (adding a little more water if needed) until soft. Allow to cool, then purée in a food processor.

In a small pan, heat olive oil over a medium heat. Add garlic and rosemary and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

In a food processor, place white beans and the garlic, rosemary and olive oil mixture. Pulse in the food processor until finely chopped and close to pureed.

Place pumpkin purée, white bean rosemary mixture, egg, oats, Parmesan and a pinch of sea salt in a large bowl and mix with a spoon until well combined. Place in the refrigerator to rest for at least a half an hour (so the oats can soak up the egg and purée).

Heat oven to 400 F/205 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with olive oil or baking spray.

Form the pumpkin white bean mixture into 2 1/2 to 3 inch-wide patties and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes and flip the patties, then bake for another 10. (20 minutes total.) Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2-5 minutes and serve over salad or on a small bun with desired toppings. (Hello, caramelized onions!)

 

(You could also pan-fry these in a large skillet with olive oil over a medium-high heat for about 3 minutes on eat side.)

Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Simple things that will always always brighten my day:

  • This picture of kangaroos hugging
  • A cheap manicure
  • Soul music
  • Unexpected flowers
  • A new book
  • A good margarita
  • Treat yo self. And all things Amy Poehler is involved in
  • Dinnertime with Mr. F
  • Making lists of completely unimportant things

This soup is a brightener too – in color and flavor. It’s hearty and almost a little rich, without actually having anything rich in it. Depth is added to the sweetness of the carrots and sweet potatoes by roasting and the addition of earthy cumin and a little spice from Cayenne pepper balance it all out.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
– 4 medium carrots, washed well and roughly chopped
– olive oil
– 6 whole cloves of garlic (skins on)
– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 1 large yellow or brown onion, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon cumin
– 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
– 6 cups vegetable stock/ broth
– salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 F/205 C.

Chop the bottom off of 6 cloves of garlic, but keep them in their skins.

Arrange the 6 garlic cloves, sweet potatoes and carrots on well oiled baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes and carrots are soft and golden. Remove garlic cloves from their skins.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot. Add chopped onion and a little salt and saute until softened and translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the 2 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for another minute.

Add stock and bring to a boil.

Add roasted carrots, sweet potato and garlic to the stock and bring to a boil again. Remove from heat and then carefully blend with a stick blender or in batches in a blender, until smooth.

Serve warm with fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.

Roasted Fennel and Pear Quinoa Salad

I’m beginning to write myself a life handbook. Basically it’s just an Evernote list that I can refer to when I need a confidence boost, or some real-talk from myself.

I add to it in those moments when I’m feeling inspired or insightfully self-possessed and think I’ve figured out something about life…so yeah, it’s a slooow process.

Sometimes I curse in this list to get my point across. That’s something you should definitely know about me: I have a terrible mouth, which I inherited from my Grandma. I’ll do my best to not curse when I’m talking about quinoa.

One of my most important life bullet points is: Be nice to yourself. Seriously, stop being so hard on yourself.

I wish it didn’t require the seriously.

But I don’t think I’m alone on this one. I think we can all be a little hard on ourselves. We’re not making all the right moves in our careers, we’re not making enough money, we’re not fit enough, thin enough, cool enough, good enough. And all of that crap kind of has to stop.

It’s important to set goals for yourself and do your dang best, but it’s also important to ease up and show yourself a little love, kindness and leeway. Be good to yourself starting…now.

Start by packing a picnic with some fresh bread, avocado, fancy salt and this salad and heading somewhere pretty and peaceful. Roasted pears and fennel with nutty quinoa and peppery arugula will make you feel like you’re doing the right thing. Seriously.

Roasted Fennel and Pear Salad (serves 2-4)
– 1 fennel bulb cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm thick sections
– 1 pear, cut into 1/2 inch/1 cm thick sections
– olive oil
– salt & pepper
– 1 cup of cooked quinoa
– 1 cup arugula
– 1/4 cup goats cheese, crumbled

Honey Dijon Dressing:
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
– 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
– 1 teaspoon honey
– splash of water

To cook quinoa: Rinse 1/2 cup of quinoa in a mesh colander. Place 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and let stand (covered) for 5-10 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and serve.

Heat oven to 450 F/230 C.

Lightly oil a baking sheet and arrange the fennel and pears on it. (Keep the pears on one side and the fennel on the other, so that if you need to remove the pear before the fennel is ready, it can be done easily)

Roast for 15 minutes and check on your baking sheet. Pears should be soft and golden – this is your cue to take them out. Place the fennel back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until soft and browned in places.

While your pears and fennel are roasting, make the dressing by whisking the ingredients together in a small bowl or pouring them in a jar with a lid and shaking vigorously.

Once the fennel is roasted, toss your quinoa and greens with 1 or 2 spoonfuls of dressing. Stir in some of your fennel and pear, reserving some to arrange on the top of the quinoa and greens. Top with crumbled goat cheese and drizzle a little more dressing on top.