Thursday, December 20, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Mmmm, brussels sprouts. This is one of my absolute favorite side dishes to make...and actually, not only are they good for dinner, but if you make them in advance, chill them in the fridge, and serve them with the lemon dill aioli I described in this post, they make a great party appetizer. I recently made them for a friend's baby shower, and labeled them ever so adorably...

Ok, ok, I know, cheesy. But still! Cute! And also very delicious! Roasting the brussels sprouts gives them a much different texture and flavor than when you eat them steamed. When you steam them, they smell a little....cabbagey. But the roasting changes it to a nutty, slightly peppery flavor. They're great. I promise you. 

Total Prep Time: 25 minutes

Total Cook Time: 20 minutes

What you will need:

1 package brussels sprouts (this package is a prop; I had already started cooking with sprouts from Black Hog Farm)
1/2 lemon 
1 1/2 tbsps (approximately) olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

First things first is to wash/clean your brussels sprouts. Since they are basically little heads of cabbage, they get dirt in between some of their leaves (particularly the outer leaves). Also, sometimes the grocery store sells them to you with a piece of little woody stem still stuck on them, so you'll want to cut the bottoms of them and peel off the outer leaves if they look wilty and damaged. Wilty is a technical term.

Preheat your oven to 400. 425 is preferable, but I tend to steer towards 400 since my oven likes to create a lot of smoke. Which makes J unhappy, because then he's stuck fanning our smoke detector with a kitchen towel while I finish cooking.

Next, put them in a pot with a lid, with approximately 1 inch of water. Cook them on medium high, allowing steam to escape, for approximately 6-8 minutes (after the water starts boiling and they start steaming). You want them to be firm, and bright green in color, but beware that they are completely raw on the inside. The best way to find out is to either cut one in half, or taste it. After they are done, drain them in a colander and let them cool.

After they cool for approximately 10 minutes, cut them in half, lengthwise. 

Once they are all cut, it helps to press them gently with paper towels, as the more water you get off of them, the crispier they will be after roasting. If you are pressed for time, this is not a necessary step.

Put the halves in a large bowl, and coat with the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add more salt and pepper than you think you will need, as it soaks in. Drizzle with lemon juice, then toss to coat the sprouts evenly with the liquid.

Cover a baking sheet with tin foil (this avoids messy clean up and scrubbing later!) and spread the sprouts in a single layer on the sheet, Place in the oven for approximately ten minutes. Stir them around, trying to get the other side of the sprouts to face top up.

Let the sprouts cook for about another ten minutes, then peek in the oven. You're going to have to eyeball the crisp factor, but make sure they don't burn. Burnt brussels sprouts are not so tasty.

Serve, and enjoy!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pan Sauteed Tomatoes

Again, I've been on hiatus. I know. Holidays and work have caused me to resort only to cooking things I've already posted, or I forget to take pictures until halfway through a meal. Don't give up on me.

So, what do you do when you buy a couple of nice vine-ripe tomatoes (or get them in your CSA vegetable delivery box), life gets in the way before you can use them while they're still just perfectly ripe, and you are left with a slightly soft, overripe tomato? If you're anything like me, you don't want to eat that tomato raw. You know it's going to be slightly starchy, and mushy, and just won't live up to its tomato potential. Too many times, those tomatoes end up in the garbage or on the compost pile.

Until now. 

This dish is VERY quick and is simple in its flavor profile. You can fix these tomatoes while you cook a full meal, can make them for breakfast with some hummus and rustic bread (try toasting it in the oven!), or use them as a side for tons of other dishes. They have a little bit of heat, and are super healthy.

Total Prep Time: 3 minutes

Total Cook Time: 10 minutes

What you will need:

1-2 vine ripe tomatoes (slightly soft, overripe is the best kind of tomato for this dish)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
Sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Using a serrated knife, slice your tomatoes into thick horizontal slices, like so:

In a small saute pan (avoid non-stick pans for this dish), heat the olive oil on medium heat, and make sure it coats the entire bottom of the pan. You want the oil to be shimmering, but not actually crackling yet. If it gets too hot accidentally, then just reduce the heat and let it cool for a minute before taking the next step.

Place your tomato slices in a single layer on the bottom of the saute pan. They should make a delightful frying sound. 

Once they're in the oil, sprinkle salt and pepper over them, then take a tiny bit of garlic and spread it on each piece of tomato. Shake a few chili flakes on the tomatoes, too.

Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes, then flip them. Season the other side, which should be slightly bubbled from the oil.

Let the tomatoes cook on the second side, adding whatever garlic is left directly to the oil, for approximately three minutes. Then, turn off the heat and transfer to a serving dish, pouring the oil over the tomatoes. They should stick together, but it's ok if the skin is starting to separate from the tomato a bit.

Serve, and enjoy!