Hey friends! It’s been two solid weeks since I’ve shown myself, but all for great reason. My travel season has finally started after a much needed 3-month break. It’s been so delightful being idle at home, relishing in family moments and some intense desk work I’d been putting off. And, I decided to kick off my travel with an equally much needed vacation last week. I decided not to do any work.at.all. Not sure that was a great idea, but it did bring me back with a bunch of inspiration and eagerness to create deliciousness in my own kitchen. And with a mentality prepared to embrace Spring, though I’m really loving the winter DC is having. But consistent winter weather means consistent comfort food eating. A lot of it, actually.
Don’t we all go through the ebb and flow of committing to eating right? Adopting the most healthy diet has to be one of the things I constantly battle. The desire to totally clean up my approach to eating is poignant and alway piercing at my conscious. But the stressors of life take over and I find myself clinging to salty, crunchy, and fatty foods, especially at the most inopportune times of the day. Like at 1 am. I’ve probably shared that little detail over and over again. It’s a reality I’m trying to somehow nix. Forever.
Mind over matter. Mind over matter.
Since I know my need for salty and crunchy late at night has everything to do with stress, I started looking at alternative foods that would satisfy that need. My go to snack are chips. I will demolish a bag of potato chips and not think twice about it; until the next morning when I’m bloated and feeling completely out of control. In my earnest search for settling on something healthier and even attempting to making a preemptive move by eating that snack earlier in the day, I came upon Brussels sprouts. Probably not the most appealing option as kale chips seem to be so ubiquitous and wildly popular, but at least with fresh Brussels sprouts, I’d be in complete control of how I cook them.
I became an immediate fan of the mini cabbage vegetable about two years ago when it made its debut in fashionable American dining. Especially since they’re seldom seen in Latin cuisine and to my deepest knowledge, not a part on any level of Cuban culture, I was excited to casually introduce them to my family and clients. I’ll personally take them any kind of way. But my most favored, as just discovered, is flash fried, creating a soft interior and crunchy exterior. Perfection, I tell you. I won’t lie though. This was no genius moment of culinary creativité I fell upon. It was by lucky chance I enjoyed a huge serving just last week while vacationing in Jackson Hole, WY. I saw Brussels sprouts on the starters menu at Osteria, a chic Italian restaurant within the snow mountain village, and knew it was the ideal option for a day of snowboarding ahead of me. Not too light, not too heavy.
And oh joy, did I love them. The plate came out with quasi charred sprouts. Fantastic crunch on the the shell and tender insides. They were tangy with a touch of sweetness, too, caused by a pomegranate reduction and fresh arils. A fresh squeeze of lemon juice married it all beautifully. A salad of sorts, it was freshly divine. So much, I took the measly 1/8 cup back to my rented condo to share the goodness with my siblings. That didn’t fare so well. They’re just not there yet.
After further examination and pondering how that combination so aptly tackled my salty and crunchy needs, I was resolved to make it for myself, varying the fried process but also the pomegranate juice reduction which worked so heavenly.
I love recreating dishes that make me happy and keep me talking.
Marzetti® had the timely answer to my quest of finding a suitable alternative to this thin waist defying habit I have. I went a slightly different route, considering this waistline profile, and roasted the Brussels sprouts instead. I thought fully mimicking the fabulous dish I enjoyed by the hands of another chef would diminish the joyous lunch experience; and dim my own approach. And, while I really loved the pomegranate reduction, I knew I had other options in Marzetti’s dressings. Still wanting to savor some tartness, I tweaked my ingredients. Their Simply Dressed Strawberry Poppyseed Dressing® was it. In fact, I loved it better than their pomegranate dressing (yes, I just had to try it out and see how it worked). The vinaigrette dressing allowed me the mental freedom of thinking I was indulging more on a salad and not just a plate of fried vegetables.
In slight contrast to the plate I had last week, the roasting reduced the amount of oil, and that made my waistline happy. Very happy. I loved the charring so I still went for an aesthetically appealing finish.
While I would have loved to make my own strawberry glaze for this experiment, my lack of time made it super easy to go to the strawberry dressing. When substitutes work, it’s a good time in my kitchen, making my life so much easier. It was easy peasy, requiring no additional work. Though a bit sweet, sprinkling a squeeze of fresh lime cut it and gave me the perfect umami effect. Initially, I wanted to toss the “salad,” but you already know that dousing the Brussels sprouts in dressing would have killed the very thing I was after—crunch.
What I loved most about using the dressing was its ease, no fuss cooking or waiting, and its contents — extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and canola oil, and omega-3 ALA. All the elements I’m looking to gradually minimize or eliminate from my foods were absent: preservatives, trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, added MSG or artificial flavors.
How could I possibly go back to eating fatty, tho emotionally satisfying, potato chips at midnight after eating this?!?! The only challenge I know I’ll encounter is enjoying this dish late enough at night (late dinners are very typical in Latin cultures) to keep me from reversing my progress!
But I’ll press on. At least it’s super delicious option. Kale chips… as much as I really do like them — just don’t cut it. Not in this case.
Try the strawberry poppyseed dressing with other vegetable dishes. If you’ve not toyed around with green vegetables and strawberry glazes, try it! The pleasant surprise will have you pondering questionable eating habits! And you know spring is right around the corner. The more healthy, trimming eating I can do now, the more beach side spectators will appreciate my work!
¡Happy eating and buen provecho!
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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STRAWBERRY POPPYSEED GLAZED ROASTED BRUSSELs SPROUTS
- 1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
- 1/4 Marzetti® Simply Dressed Strawberrry Poppyseed Dressing®
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 lime, fresh squeeze
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375F. In large pot, salt 2 cups water and blanche Brussels sprouts for 5-6 minutes, approximately. Drain and pat dry. In large skillet, heat olive oil. Sauté garlic until a light brown. Add Brussels sprouts and basil. Pan fry 10 minutes on medium heat until sprouts start browning and slightly charring. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir lightly. Transfer to baking sheet. Roast for additional 15 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are nice and crispy on outside.
To plate, drizzle a generous amount of strawberry poppyseed dressing on plate. Scatter Brussels sprouts, including browned bits (don’t deglaze) and broken off leaves. Lightly toss if desired. Sprinkle with juice from half fresh lime.