Thursday, November 10, 2011

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts

I still have a hard time believing my despise for Brussels when I was a kid. What was I thinking? These days, they are like candy, especially after the frost bites and their sugars come out. Scrumptious. I was in heaven the other day when I spied a bag in the Lacroix Farm refrigerator while picking up my eggs. After a delicious dinner, I promptly emailed to request another 5 lbs. set aside for me. This week, my CSK members (hopefully) enjoyed these treats as part of Monday's dinner. 

Of course they are good for you (our childhood taste buds told us that), but even more importantly, they are unbelievably tasty! At the sad time of year when our fresh local produce suddenly seems quite sparse and monotonous, these sprouts are a welcome treat. 

I highly recommend using coconut oil in this recipe, as it definitely contributes to the character of the resulting dish. It is my favorite oil for medium to high heat situations, as it is relatively stable with a higher smoke point than most other virgin unprocessed oils. And the flavor: lip-smacking good.

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts
Serves 6

1 tbs. coconut oil
3 cups brussel sprouts, washed and halved
1 tbs. maple syrup
course salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add brussel sprout halves, cut side down, in a single layer. This may require batches if your pan is not big enough. Turn down the heat slightly, cover and cook undisturbed until the bottoms are golden brown and the sprouts are tender when tested with a fork. Drizzle with syrup, stir and remove from heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately. YUM.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rubbed Kale Salad in a Lemon Tahini Dressing

Like many people, my love for raw kale was not immediate. Let's face it, the stuff can be bitter and a tad much to get through. It took some experimenting and advice-searching to discover the techniques to making raw kale salads go from "blah" to "aaahh", but in my kitchen (and head), the switch has been turned. 

Here is the secret: to break down the rough and tough leaves, dress the kale and then rub or massage it for a few minutes with your fingers. It's fun, really. You'll notice the leaves start to turn a deeper green and lose a bit of their structure. Add your toppings and then let your entire salad sit for 15 minutes or so before serving. The result is a heady salad that tastes just as delicious as it does healthy. I swear, I can feel the chlorophyll energizing my cells before I can even put down my fork.

This salad comes along with maple toasted sesame seeds, tiny dried currants and diced crystallized ginger for a warming fall dish. Chewy, zesty with little bursts of crunch, the flavors and textures both run deep. 

I probably don't have to convince you how healthy kale is, but here is a bit of information to help you enjoy every bite. High in fiber, Vitamin K, iron and omega-3 fatty acids, it is considered a "hearty green" in the cruciferous family. This particular family (think broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage etc.) has been connected to a myriad of health benefits, including lowering the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and auto-immune disorders while promoting blood sugar regulation and decreasing inflammation. To top it all off, the sesame seeds in this dish provide additional iron and calcium along with healthy monounsaturated fats. 

Rubbed Kale Salad
Serves 6


1 large head of kale

1/2 cup unhulled sesame seeds
1 tbs. maple syrup
2 tsp. tamari
1/2 tsp ginger 

1/4 cup tahini
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tbs. olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, minced


Remove kale stems, tear leaves into bit-size pieces and wash and dry thoroughly. 

Heat a medium cast-iron pan over low-medium heat. Add sesame seeds and toast, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until seeds begin to brown. Add syrup, tamari, and ginger, tossing to coat. Continue to toast for another minute, remove from pan and let cool. 

In a blender, combine tahini through salt to make the dressing. Blend until smooth. 

Pour dressing over prepared kale and toss to coat. Using your finger tips, massage dressing into the kale until leaves begin to turn dark green and lose some of their structure. Test for texture and flavor, adjusting seasonings as necessary (you may want to add additional salt). Toss in currants and minced crystallized ginger. Set aside to let the flavors marry for about 15 minutes before serving. 

Relax. Eat Well.