Thursday, February 4, 2010

Project Brussels Sprouts

Blogging has turned into this thing I used to do. So has cooking, for that matter. Back before the fog of school blanketed my life, and time became increasingly elusive. It's a sad sad situation, especially since I have two, count 'em, two classes this quarter that are directly related to food. I have a plethora of topics and information to share on both the nutrition and the sustainable urban agriculture fronts. Yes, I am cramming all sorts of food wisdom into my eager noggin, but lamentably, I can only spend so much of my life in front of a computer. The weather is beautiful in Cascadia at the moment, you'll just have to trust me on that one.

I do have a couple of recipes to share. In my nutrition class we were assigned what our teacher refers to as the "Foreign Vegetable Project". For this project we were to visit a local farmers market (sweet!), choose a vegetable that we have never (or rarely) eaten, prepare a dish and present our experience to the class, including information that we researched about the farm we purchased from.

First off, I have to give big props to my professor! What an incredible way to - 1. promote seasonal foods - 2. learn about local farmers - and 3. get tasty recipes from classmates. I was actually excited to complete this project, and I'll tell you... that is a rarity.

So for lack of a vegetable at the market that I had never had, I chose one that I absolutely adore. Brussels sprouts are like the strawberries of winter, as far as I'm concerned. I look forward to their green, little cabbageness the way I anticipate the arrival of heirloom tomatoes in summer. And since I love the taste and texture so much, I decided to prepare my sprouts as a side dish for the project with a hearty lentil stew for a main course.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
serves 2

20-25 Brussels Sprouts (approximately)
1 T. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 C. finely grated cheese (like Parmesan or manchego) optional
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Wash the sprouts thoroughly, trim off the rough stems and cut large sprouts in half through the stem.
Place the sprouts in a baking dish and drizzle oil over them. Sprinkle with salt, and toss to coat. Arrange the sprouts in a single layer in the dish.
Place the dish on the center rack of the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, stirring once. The sprouts should be tender but not mushy. Sprinkle with finely grated cheese (optional) and serve immediately.
Lentil Vegetable Stew
serves 2

1/3 C. dry lentils (any variety will work)
1 T. olive oil
1 C. diced onion
1 T. flour
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. cumin
2 C. vegetable broth
1 C. potato, ½” dice
¾ C. carrot, ½” dice (about one large carrot)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 C. packed kale, chopped into 1” pieces

Put the lentils into a large saucepan, cover with 1-2” of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat slightly and boil until the lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Strain the lentils, pour into a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the olive oil over medium and add the onions. Saute until they begin to turn translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the flour, cayenne and cumin and cook another minute.

Pour in the vegetable broth, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, turn heat to medium-low and simmer 5-8 minutes, until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
Add the carrot and garlic and continue to simmer another 5 minutes, stirring a few more times.
Stir in the kale and cook another 3-5 minutes. Carrots should be tender but not soggy, and kale should be bright green and slightly crisp.
Turn off the heat, ladle into bowls and serve piping hot.

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