Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad with Lemon and Pomegranate

I love winter fruits and vegetables. Last week one of my ultra running pals brought me a big stalk of Brussels sprouts. I knew right away I wanted to make some sort of Brussels sprout salad and searched for a couple other winter vegetables or fruits that would brighten it up with some sweetness and acidity.  I found those bright notes in a pomegranate and some lemons plucked from a tree in the back yard.

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An abundance of lemons this winter. I absolutely love not having to buy lemons.

The whole lemon is used in this recipe. Blanching the lemons, then roasting them, helps to eliminate the bitterness from the rind. You may be hesitant to bite into the lemon, rind and all, but you’ll be pleased to find the rind quite tender. You will want to try this because the peel of a lemon contains more vitamins than it’s juice. Lemon peels are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, folate, beta carotene and vitamin C.

The lemons, pomegranate anvils and Brussels sprouts are tossed together with red onion and tomatoes to create a side salad that was not only visually bright but is also cheerful with each bite.

This salad was accompanied by a hearty bowl of my Minestrone Soup and served on a very rainy winter weekend.  The ingredients in this salad made for the perfect light and sunny Sunday night dinner

Serving size: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 heads or 3/4 pounds of Brussels sprouts*
  • 2 large lemons (1 sliced lemon and juice of 1 lemon, about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup small assorted tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup of pomegranate arils (seeds)
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt & pepper

* Brussels sprouts can be replaced with mixed greens

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F

Cut the Brussels sprouts in half and place onto 2/3 of a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Leave the other 1/3 of the baking sheet empty. Lemon slices will be added to this space later. Toss the Brussels sprouts in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then season well with salt and pepper. Roast the Brussels sprouts for about 20-25 minutes until tender and the edges are brown. Turn over the Brussels sprouts a few times while roasting to ensure even browning.

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, wash the lemons well then slice one lemon into thin rounds. Place the lemon slices into a pot of boiling water. Blanch the lemon slices for 2 minutes. This will help to eliminate the bitterness from the rind. Remove the lemon slices from the boiling water and add it to the baking sheet with the Brussels sprouts. Coat the lemon slices in 1 tablespoon of olive oil then roast with the Brussels sprouts. Roast the lemon slices for about 10-15 minutes until they start to caramelize a little. Watch the Brussels sprouts and lemon slices carefully. The lemon slices may need to be removed from the baking sheet before the Brussels sprouts have finished roasting.

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Allow the Brussels sprouts and lemon slices to cool slightly, then cut both Brussels sprouts and lemon slices in half.

In a measuring cup or small bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking together the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, the juice of the remaining lemon (about 1/4 cup), balsamic vinegar, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and red onion slices in the dressing. Transfer to a serving bowl. Slice the lemon rounds in half and add to the top of the Brussels sprout salad. Top with the pomegranate arils.

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Swap out the Brussels sprouts with mixed greens for a salad with brightness in every bite.
Swap out the Brussels sprouts with mixed greens for a salad with brightness in every bite.

Asian Pasta Salad

My Asian Pasta Salad is one of my go-to recipes when I need a dish that can be prepared in advance and left sitting at room temperature for a few hours without refrigeration. I make this dish for picnics, to bring to work for lunch and most recently at this weekend’s Super Bowl party.

This recipe includes one of my favorite vegetables, the sugar snap pea. Developed in 1979, the sugar snap pea is a relatively new food, and a hybrid of green peas and snow peas. They are sweet, crunchy, easy to chew, and a good source of fiber, iron, potassium and vitamin C.

Serving size: 6

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces whole wheat angel hair or spaghetti noodles, cooked (optional gluten-free pasta)
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups sugar snap peas
  • 5 scallion (green onion) stalks, green and white parts finely diced
  • ¼ cup light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili oil (add more if you like it spicier)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (can substitute with white vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (optional)
  • 3 cups of grilled chicken (optional)

Cook the pasta noodles in salted boiling water, stirring frequently during the first couple of minutes, then occasionally to ensure the noodles do not stick together. Cook it until it is “al dente”. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Place in large mixing bowl.

Add carrots, peppers and sugar snap peas to the pasta bowl. Reserve a tablespoon of scallions to use for garnish later and add the rest of the scallions to the pasta bowl.

In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, chili oil, vinegar, grated ginger, canola oil and sesame oil. Reserve 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds to use for garnish later and add the rest to the soy sauce dressing.

Add the dressing to the pasta bowl and toss thoroughly to ensure all the pasta and vegetables are coated with the dressing. Sometimes it’s easier to use clean hands to toss the pasta. The pasta can be served immediately, however I like to cover it and let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple hours to give the pasta a chance to absorb the dressing. Toss the pasta after removing it from the refrigerator. Sprinkle with reserved scallions and sesame seeds before serving.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad

One of my dearest friends, Nicole, who I love to train and eat with, requested a vegetable side dish that would accompany the ham and pulled pork she was serving at her holiday party.  She asked if I could make some sort of Waldorf style salad that was easy to eat buffet style.   My Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad with grapes, dried sweetened cranberries and candied walnuts was born out of this request.  Nicole’s husband Mark, requested I toss in crispy bits of pancetta in the future, although he did say this was the best Brussels sprouts he ever had prepared without bacon or pancetta.

I have to admit.  Until now, I thought they were called “brussel” sprouts.  They are called “Brussels” sprouts.  Brussels sprouts are the buds of wild cabbage.  They are nutritious and a good source of fiber.  For more nutritional information on Brussels sprouts, check out this article:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=10

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad

Servings size: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds of Brussels sprouts (about 5 cups) cut into quarters
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (for roasting Brussels sprouts)  + ¼ cup olive oil (for dressing)
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes cut into quarters
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • ½ cup candied walnuts (optional)
  • ¼ cup cooked chopped pancetta bits (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut Brussels sprouts into quarters and toss in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Spread on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (because I hate scrubbing the pan after).  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes.  With a spatula, flip Brussels sprouts to ensure even browning.  Sprinkle with Balsamic vinegar and bake for additional 10 minutes or until lightly brown and tender.

While the Brussels sprouts are cooling, prepare dressing by whisking together ¼ cup of olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper.

In mixing bowl, toss Brussels sprouts in dressing.  Toss in grapes, cranberries and candied walnuts.   Serve warm or cold.

Cut the Brussels sprouts into quarters and toss in olive oil.
Cut the Brussels sprouts into quarters and toss in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Roasted Corn, String Bean, Tomato and Cucumber Orzo Salad

A great way to encourage children to enjoy eating vegetables is to teach them how to grow their own garden.  Chloe’s and Zachary’s parents built two garden boxes in their back yard, one for each child.  The children planted their first garden in the Spring, watered it diligently and watched with excitement, their garden grow before their eyes.  They were recently rewarded with strawberries, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and string beans.

Innocently unbiased and ferociously inquisitive, Chloe and Zachary will ask to taste all the ingredients in its raw form no matter what it is.  When I cook with them, I guide them on what they should or should not try and am thrilled they are willing to try everything.  What a wonderful way for the children to appreciate the true flavors of raw vegetables and understand how their flavors can change when cooked or seasoned.

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My Roasted Corn, String Beans, Tomato and Cucumber Orzo Salad was inspired by Chloe’s and Zachary’s garden.  The vegetables in this recipe are either raw or lightly cooked so their freshness can be enjoyed.

This salad can either be served as a side dish or as a vegetarian main course.  Add chopped roasted chicken for a protein-rich main course.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried orzo pasta
  • 2 ears fresh corn, roasted
  • 1 pound green beans, blanched
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, rinsed, stemmed, and cut in half or thirds depending on size
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Pinch Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Cook orzo in boiling water for 8-9 minutes until barely tender.  Drain and rinse in cold water.

Husk corn and roast on grill until some of the kernels are evenly browned on all sides.  Remove the corn kernels by holding each cob upright on it’s stem and carefully running a sharp knife down the cob over a large bowl.  Add cooked orzo.

Cut green beans into 2-3 inches.  Blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  Green beans should still have a crunch.  Drain and place in ice water.  Drain again and add to orzo and corn.

Cut cucumber in half.  Using a teaspoon, scoop out the seeds.  Cut the cucumber halves into thirds or quarters lengthwise.  Then cut into ½ inch cubes.

Cut cherry tomatoes in half or thirds depending on size.   Add cucumber and tomatoes to orzo, corn and string beans.

Rough chop parsley and add to orzo mixture.

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and Dijon mustard.  Add salt and pepper and whisk again.

Pour over orzo and vegetables.    Toss well.   Allow the orzo salad to sit for at least 1 hour to absorb the flavors of the dressing.

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Tomato, Tomato, Tomato Salad

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes!

According to WebMD “Eating lots of tomatoes, any way you can, is a great thing. This fruit that acts like a vegetable is loaded with health properties.”

I disliked tomatoes as a kid.  I use to pick those tasteless, mushy, slices off of my sandwiches or donate them to my father’s salad plate.  Then, one day, a friend of mine happily snatched my tomato slice.   She sprinkled salt on it and ate it just like that.  She commented on how much she enjoyed snacking on tomatoes this way.  I felt like I was missing out by not being able to appreciate tomatoes.    With an open mind I sprinkled salt on a slice of a beefsteak tomato and ate it.  To my surprise, I enjoyed this juicy fruit whose sweetness was amplified by the salt.  Yum!  From that point on, I was on a quest to enjoy a variety of tomatoes: heirloom, grape, cherry, Roma, etc.  In fact, there are about 7,500 varieties of tomatoes!  As a tribute to my love of this fruit, that acts like a vegetable, “Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes” is a trilogy of basic tomato recipes: Tomato Salad, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce.

This tomato trilogy begins with the fastest salad you’ll ever prepare.  Ready?  Set?  Go!

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/health-properties-tomatoes

Serving size: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 Heirloom Tomatoes* (2 different colors)
  • 2 Tomatoes on the Vine*
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes* (multicolored)
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons cherry balsamic vinegar or plain balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

* NOTE: Any variety of tomatoes can be used.  Try to select tomatoes of different colors and sizes to create a more visually interesting plate.  After all, we eat with our eyes first!

Directions:

Cut tomatoes in ½ inch slices or in half if using cherry or grape tomatoes.

Arrange tomato slices on a serving plate.

Stack the basil leaves and roll like a cigar.  Chiffonade the basil by cutting thin slices.  Sprinkle over tomatoes.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Orange, Fennel and Arugula Salad

Oranges are a wonderful winter fruit that is in season right now.  Several of my friends and neighbors here in Northern California have more oranges growing in their backyard than they know what to do with.

Here’s a refreshing and healthy recipe that will give you a reason to use up those oranges.  My Orange, Fennel and Arugula Salad is a burst of flavor with every bite.  The sweetness from the oranges, hint of licorice from the fennel and the peppery notes from the arugula, compliment each other well.

Did you know that oranges and fennel are a good source of vitamin C and calcium?  In addition, fennel has many health benefits.  It is a good source of fiber, potassium, folate, niacin as well as minerals, such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper.  In animal studies, the anethole in fennel has been shown to reduce inflammation and to help prevent the occurrence of cancer.

Serving size: 2

Equipment: Mandoline (but not required)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced thinly with a Mandoline (about 1 cup)
  • 3 large or 4 small oranges
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ freshly cracked pepper (about 5 turns of the pepper mill)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 6 cups arugula

Directions

Using a mandolin set at the thinnest setting, or with a knife, slice the fennel bulb.  Set aside.

Cut the skin off of the oranges and then slice the oranges into ¼ inch cross sections.

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In a small mixing bowl, make the salad vinaigrette by whisking together the juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, ground cardamom, salt, freshly cracked pepper and honey.

I a small bowl, toss fennel in 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette.  In a separate bowl, toss the arugula in 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette.

On a serving plate, make a bed of arugula.  Arrange orange slices on top of the arugula.  Sprinkle fennel over orange slices.  Spoon remaining vinaigrette over oranges. Garnish with the chopped fennel fronds (leaves).  Top with freshly cracked pepper.

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For a dinner party, I used mixed greens instead of arugula.  This salad pairs well with a lot of dishes.

 

Salmon Nicoise Salad for Two

This attractive salad is packed with a lot of heart healthy ingredients and requires very little cooking time.   Salmon and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows can boost heart health, lower triglycerides and may help with rheumatoid arthritis and depression.  Olives and olive oil can help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, maintain levels of HDL “good” cholesterol and protect against heart disease.  Avocados are also heart-healthy, a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamins C, K, folate and B6.

This salad is very easy to prepare and the ingredients can be exchanged depending on what you are in the mood for.  Any variety of tomatoes can be used.  The avocado can be replaced with blanched string beans.   For more complex carbohydrates, small boiled potatoes can be added.

Serving size: 2

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces Salmon (I prefer wild sockeye salmon)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard*
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce*
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced and fanned
  • skinless and boneless smoked sardines*
  • sliced heirloom tomatoes, or grape tomatoes cut in half or cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • balsamic vinegar*
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 boiled eggs, sliced
  • lettuce or kale
  • 1 cup olives
  • roasted red peppers (optional)
  • green beans, blanched (optional)
  • boiled baby potatoes cut in half (optional)

* NOTE: If you are a gluten-free diet, ensure that the ingredients you are using are gluten-free.

Directions:

 Preheat oven’s broiler.

Whisk together Dijon mustard, soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Pour over salmon and marinade for 10-30 minutes.

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Boil eggs.  I prefer soft boiled which I achieve by placing the eggs in a pot of water, then bring the water to boil.  Allow the eggs to sit in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the eggs and allow to sit for 3 more minutes.  Rinse the eggs in cool water and then place them back into the pot with cold water.

Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, and spray with nonstick spray.  Crack fresh pepper over salmon and place salmon skin side down Broil the salmon in the pan, skin side down, for 8-10 minutes.

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The salmon skin should be easy to remove and recommend you do this before plating.  Prepare the salad dressing by whisking together balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup of olive oil with a pinch of Kosher salt.  Arrange all ingredients on a plate and drizzle ablout 2-3 teaspoon of salad dressing over lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables.  Take care to arrange your plate.  We eat with our eyes first, so presentation is key.

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We eat with our eyes and taste with our nose too.  When entertaining, I always take a moment to think about presentation.
We eat with our eyes and taste with our nose too. When entertaining, I always take a moment to think about presentation.
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Nicoise Salad with heirloom tomatoes, string beans, butter lettuce, olives and sardines.
Salmon nicoise salad with cherry tomatoes, string beans, sardines, olives and soft boiled eggs.
Salmon nicoise salad with cherry tomatoes, string beans, sardines, olives, avocado and soft boiled eggs.
Nicoise salad with kale, avocado, cherry tomatoes, sardines, eggs and olives.  Doesn't get much healthier than this!
Nicoise salad with kale, avocado, cherry tomatoes, sardines, eggs and olives.  It doesn’t get much healthier than this!