Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This recipe is from Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Foolproof. 

This cookbook is beautiful and has some amazing looking recipes.  I look forward making dishes from it.  She also has really great tips on entertaining that make it possible to enjoy your dinner party because you’re not frantically cooking while your guests are at the table.  This recipe is delicious and could easily be made without the pancetta for vegetarians.  It is amazing what happens when you roast vegetables at high heat.

My only experience with brussels sprouts growing up was seeing them at Luby’s and being too scared to order them (after all –the LuAnn platter of one main dish and two sides required me to have the 1/2 breaded fish filet, with mashed potatoes and corn!)

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core

4 oz. pancetta, sliced ¼” thick (I used Columbus pancetta, that is already cut into ¼” dice)

1/4 Cup good olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon syrupy balsamic vinegar (see note)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, including some of the leaves, which get crispy when they’re roasted.  Cut the pancetta into ½” dice and add to pan.  Add the olive oil, 1 ½ tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and toss with your hands.  Spread out the mixture in a single layer.

Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re tender and nicely browned and the pancetta is cooked.  Toss once during roasting.  Remove from oven, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar and toss again.  Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Note:  You can buy aged balsamic vinegar, which can be very expensive, or you can boil good balsamic vinegar until reduced to half its volume and it will be become syrupy as well.  (I bought the Kirkland Brand of Balsamic Vinegar from Modena and it is actually quite syrupy and quite reasonable.)

Brussels Sprouts Prior to Roasting

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Mango, Avocado, Black Bean Salad

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Good! Good! Good!

This is my new favorite salad! I got the inspiration from a recipe on pinterest and from small herb garden in the backyard. (https://twostatesoneplate.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/herb-garden/).

Here is the link to the original recipe: http://naturalnoshing.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/mango-bean-salad/. I adapted the recipe slightly, based on what ingredients I had.

This is a great spring and summer salad! Sometimes when it gets extremely hot (and in Central Texas it can get really hot, especially the summer of 2011) you want to cook something that is refreshing and cool and that doesn’t involve turning on your oven or stove. This salad includes my favorite foods of all time: Mango, Avocados, and Black Beans. Next time I make this I plan to add red onions. It also would be good with chopped jicama.

This is my version of this salad.

Ingredients:

Your favorite greens (I used an arugula, chard, spinach mix and romaine mix), chopped. I used about 1/2 of a 5 oz box of pre-washed greens)

2 small avocados, chopped

1 and 1/2 medium sized mangoes, chopped

2 teaspoons, pickled jalapenos, chopped

1 can black beans drained ( I use Eden Organic)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped. I got this from my garden.

1 clove garlic, pressed,

juice of two medium sized-limes

3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dash of Cholula Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)

Salt and Pepper

Walnuts (optional)

Method:

In a large mixing bowl, mix olive oil, lime juice, crushed garlic, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Toss in black beans, avocados, mangoes, and jalapenos and stir with two large salad spoons to coat. Add walnuts if desired (this is optional). Serve and enjoy.

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Creamy Feta Dressing

I love the salad at a local Greek restaurant. This is my version. We all liked it and will definitely have this again.

Ingredients

1/3 block of feta cheese, crumbled
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cloves of garlic
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Method
Place all ingredients on food processor and blend until smooth. Generously drizzle over your favorite salad greens, tomatoes, kalamata olives, carrots, and red onions. Serve with warm bread.

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Balsamic Vinaigrette and Salad

Thank you everyone for being so supportive of our new blog! Lisa and I feel very encouraged!

Here is the salad recipe that we have at least twice a week. I know it seems hard to believe but my eight year old and six year old eat large quantities of this salad as do my husband and I. When I first started making this, I only used garlic, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. It was my sister (the cooking genius) who taught me that dijon mustard is needed to emulsify the dressing and since I started doing this a few years ago, we haven’t changed it since.

We have this salad with pasta, with Mexican food (is great with enchiladas or tamales), pizza, and soup, and sandwiches.

Feel free to use whichever type of lettuce or green. It works well with mixed greens, romaine, arugula, or spinach.  Also feel free to experiment with different types of vegetables. Avocados add creaminess. Cucumbers add crunch.

Tip: You don’t have to use a separate bowl to make the dressing. I mix the dressing at the bottom of the bowl I use to serve the salad. You can prepare the salad ahead of time by mixing up the dressing and then adding the lettuce or greens followed by the vegetables and then the feta cheese. Just wait to toss the salad right before you serve it. You will see that it works nicely to distribute the dressing across the greens and vegetables using this method as opposed to pouring the dressing on top of the salad.

A word about garlic: I absolutely LOVE garlic. Garlic is so tasty and so good for you. It has been known to boost immunity. I read reports that garlic was selling out in markets in Asia when the swine flu epidemic began because everyone knew it helps the body fight infection. Don’t worry about the garlic being too strong. As you will see in the recipe, the garlic “cooks” in the balsamic vinegar for several minutes and this tempers the garlic so it is not so powerful to those who aren’t used to large amounts. I believe that eating this salad keeps my family healthy and will keep you healthy too!

Ingredients for dressing:

1 and 1/2  tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 and 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. dijon mustard

1 large garlic clove or two small garlic cloves

Salad:

Mixed greens or lettuce of your choosing (about 1/2 of a 5 oz. box of pre-washed greens)

2 chopped carrots

a handful grape tomatoes (sliced in half)

1/3 to 1/5 orange, yellow, or red bell pepper

a handful of mushrooms chopped

1/2 avocado diced (optional)

8 calamata olives chopped

1/8 to 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled

Add balsamic vinegar into a large bowl. Crush garlic into vinegar with a garlic press. Allow the vinegar to “cook” the garlic before adding the dijon mustard and olive oil for at least 10 minutes. Make sure the crushed garlic is immersed in the balsamic vinegar. After you have waited for a few minutes, add the olive oil and the dijon mustard. Add the lettuce and chopped vegetables. Then add olives and feta. Toss well. Serve and enjoy!

I think you will love this salad!

-Cynthia M