Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

_MG_7459Brussels sprouts were one of those vegetables I stayed away from as a kid because someone told me they were gross, and once I finally tried them as a teenager, made me kick myself for missing out all those years. _MG_7469We eat them all the time in the winter, usually simply roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper until they are super crispy, but when I came across this salad from one of my favorite little restaurants in NYC, I knew I had to give it a try. I made do with what I had, but since you only need a few ingredients, the salad comes together in minutes and is a study in simplicity. It goes perfectly with roast chicken or short ribs, and makes a great alternative to traditional winter roasted vegetables. _MG_7465

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad (adapted from the New York Times)

24 brussels sprouts

½ cup raw walnut halves (I only had almonds, so I used that instead)

¼ cup fork-crumbled parmiggiano reggiano

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste

Kosher salt, to taste

Trim bottoms of brussels sprouts and discard any discolored or loose outer leaves. Using a mandoline, the slicing attachment on a food processor or a very sharp knife, shave sprouts into the thinnest of slices.

In a large bowl, combine shaved sprouts with the other ingredients, mixing roughly by hand so that the greens begin to wilt a little. Season to taste with salt and add a little more olive oil and lemon juice if necessary.

 

Summer Panzanella

_MG_4771In my old apartment, I had a basil plant on the kitchen window -- here in New York, we have to try pretty hard to bring the outdoors in, with few windows and outdoor space at a premium making it difficult. There wasn't a ton of sunlight, but somehow that plant survived the winter and when I brought it to my new apartment (which somehow gets even less light, being on the first floor), I was hopeful. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have inherited my parents' green thumbs and it lasted less than a month. Basil is one of my favorite herbs, a smell that means all sorts of wonderful things -- like Italy, and pesto, and summer. I'm very excited to see it back at the farmer's market, along with the season's first greenhouse tomatoes. This salad makes an excellent main course when you don't feel like doing too much cooking, or is a perfect accompaniment to roast chicken or rack of lamb (as we had it)._MG_4770 _MG_4766

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To make this salad even easier, you could skip roasting the red peppers and just chop them up raw, but I love the smoky layer of flavor they add.

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Also, my second post is up on Wine & Bowties! See my family's recipe for classic tomato-basil bruschetta here.

Summer Panzanella (adapted from Eat This Book)

1 baguette or loaf of French bread, torn into bite-size pieces

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons capers

2 red peppers, roasted over an open flame, then diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss bread pieces with 1/4 cup olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Toast until bread is golden-brown, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk garlic, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and red wine vinegar in a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the ingredients, toss, and season as needed. Lastly, add toasted croutons and stir.  Serve immediately.

Blue Cheese & Bacon Potato Salad

_MG_4750Potato salad is one of those foods that means summer to me. Of course, potatoes are in season pretty much all year round, so there's no real reason for that -- and yet, when I think of potato salad, I automatically think of barbecues, eating outside, laying in the sun. It does, of course, go very well with any kind of grilled meat, and since you can serve it at room temperature it's an ideal dish for picnics. With outdoor space in short supply in New York, we probably won't be grilling any time soon (though I have thought about one of those tiny charcoal grills for the fire escape), but I can still make a great potato salad -- no grill required. _MG_4741

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My mom has been making a version of this potato salad for years, and while I love the creamy mayo-based versions as well, this recipe is really the best. How can you go wrong with bacon and blue cheese?_MG_4748

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Blue Cheese & Bacon Potato Salad (adapted from Bon Appétit)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup minced shallots

1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives or scallions

1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

Zest of one lemon

3 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, quartered 8 bacon slices 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces) 4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

To make:

Whisk oil, vinegar, shallots, 1 tablespoon chives, mustard, honey and lemon peel in large bowl until well blended. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Add warm potatoes to dressing; toss well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Crumble into small pieces. Sprinkle salad with bacon, blue cheese, and remaining 1/4 cup chives, and arrange eggs on side of bowl.

 

Creamed Spinach

This recipe is from one of my all-time favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen -- in fact, this is one of the sites that made me want to start blogging in the first place. Deb's beautiful photography and excellent recipes get me excited every time she has a new post (and she has a cookbook coming out this year! Needless to say, I am very excited). I bought a bunch of spinach at the farmer's market last week and instead of doing the same old sauté with garlic and olive oil, decided it was time for something new. Namely, creamy, creamy cream sauce. This recipe makes a very rich side dish or you could easily top it with an egg and call it dinner. Creamed Spinach (just slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 pounds baby spinach or 2 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, tough stems discarded 1 3/4 cups heavy cream or whole milk, or a mix thereof (I used a mix) 2 shallots, finely chopped 1 small clove garlic, minced 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Wash your spinach well and shake dry. Place spinach in a large pot over high heat. Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach.

Press or squeeze out the excess liquid any number of ways, either by wringing it out in cheesecloth, putting it in a mesh strainer and pressing the moisture out with a spatula or large spoon or letting it cool long enough to grab small handfuls and squeezing them to remove as much water as possible. Coarsely chop the wrung-out spinach.

Wipe out large pot so you can use it again.

Heat milk or cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Keep warm. Meanwhile, cook shallots and garlic, in butter in the large pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about six minutes. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, about three minutes. Add warm milk or cream in a slow stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, three to four minutes. Stir in nutmeg, spinach, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until heated through.