Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Winter Salad: Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Meyer Lemon & Quinoa

I’m the kind of person that tears out recipes – from newspapers, magazines, wherever. I have whole shelves of filing folders with recipes, sorted by recipe type (appetizer, main, dessert, etc.). When I lack inspiration, I turn to these folders for something new to try. Sometimes it’s a fail, sometimes it’s a win. And sometimes, I see a recipe and a light bulb goes on in my head and I know that there is a different, often better, way to prepare the dish. Mr B. calls it “going off the reservation,” and he gets most excited by these dishes. (Mostly because he gives more credit than is due my cooking skills and creativity.)

Such was the case last night. I had pulled a recipe out of a Martha Stewart magazine. Shaved Brussels Sprout, Meyer Lemon, and Quinoa Salad.  We love our sprouts, have an abundance of Meyer lemons this time of year, and know that quinoa is good for us. Hence, my ragged-edged, torn-out recipe. But it felt more like a summer salad. And we are definitely not in summer. The frost has taken hold, the sky has opened and is providing us with much needed rain, and them temp barely breaks 50 on a good day. (Which is cold for us Californians.)

I started out prepping all the ingredients. As I shaved the spouts, I thought how much tastier they would be if they were roasted and had some brown toasted bits. So, that’s what I did. I quickly roasted the thinly shaved sprouts and made it a warm salad – not bothering to cool down the quinoa as directed. It required a double batch of the dressing, given that the warm quinoa absorbs more liquid, but you can never get too much Meyer lemon in my opinion! (Mr. B agrees….) And it was a hit. We both went back for seconds. 

The salad was comfort food – warm, full of texture, with the bright acidity of the lemon. So I thought I would share it with you, something I’ve been remiss about doing. I have been less than inspired lately with food, and even less so with writing. But I am feeling the urge to get back to the blog and sharing good food. Apologies for the absence.

A few notes on the dish:
·      The sprouts should be shaved manually, very thin and lacy. The shaved sprouts you find in the store are just too thick for this dish. I have a big fancy schmancy mandoline that makes it a breeze, but I also have a small hand-held mandoline like this, which will work. I use the little one to shave radishes, carrots, etc. for salads and it actually gets a fair amount of use and is worth the $15 investment.
·      The recipe calls for scallions (green or spring onions), but I am thinking that shaved leeks (mixed in with the sprouts and roasted) would be a good alternative.
·      You can adjust the amount of red pepper flakes – either increase for  more heat or eliminate altogether.

Shaved Brussels Sprout, Meyer Lemon & Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
Coarse salt
2 Meyer lemons
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (+ 2 T for roasting)
8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/3 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, until grains are tender and water has been absorbed, about 16 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Peel 4 long strips of zest from lemon with a vegetable peeler; thinly slice. Juice lemons into a small bowl (you want about ¼ cup); add ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Whisk in oil in a slow, steady stream.

Toss sprouts with about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place in shallow pan and roast for 5-10 minutes until you get those nice brown roasty bits. Stir occasionally.

Add zest, brussels sprouts, nuts, scallions, and chile to quinoa. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and drizzle with vinaigrette. Stir to combine.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days.

Makes 4 servings.

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