Archive for ‘brussels sprouts’

May 5, 2011

Asian Salmon with Polenta and Brussels Sprouts

The onset of spring has given me a craving for fresh foods. This meal was just that: fresh, light and a little bit sweet! Three of my favorite ingredients, salmon, polenta and Brussels sprouts came together very well and created a wonderful meal for the new season.  The salmon was prepared in an Asian style with flavors of soy sauce,  garlic, ginger, and sweet Teriyaki, perfectly sweet and spicy! The Brussels sprouts were tossed in a sweet maple glaze and roasted at a high temperature for a delicious crunchy texture. Lastly, I pan-fried polenta to balance out the overzealous flavors and provide a starch foundation for each tasty bite.

Salmon marinade and preparation:
Note: I rarely measure ingredients for marinades, I usually combine the various flavors I’m looking for and then adjust to taste…

  • fresh salmon fillets (about a half pound per person)
  • about 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar (to taste)
  • about 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce (I use the Huy Fong brand, from the Asian foods aisle – careful, its spicy!)
  • a couple cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • splash of Worshire sauce

1) Put salmon skin side down in a shallow pan
2) Combine all ingredients and mix well, pour on salmon
3) Marinate for 2-3 hours
4) Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray and heat to medium
5) Place salmon in the pan, skin side up and cook on medium. After about 4 minutes, flip sides and cook for another 4 minutes. I then added some Trader Joes Soyaki Sauce (my favorite because of its thicker consistency) and put the entire pan (make sure it doesn’t have a rubber handle!) in a pre-heated oven to bake at 350 degrees for another 15 minutes or so – varies depending how thick your salmon is.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

  • fresh Brussels sprouts
  • about 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1 splash of balsamic vinegar

1) Pre-heat oven to 375
2) Slice Brussels sprouts in half and wash thoroughly
3) Toss sprouts in maple glaze and spread onto a greased baking pan and bake, stirring often to prevent burning (even when you do this the single layers will burn a little, I don’t mind this, but you can eat around them if you do).
5) Roast until they are caramelized and fork tender, about 30 minutes

Pan-Fried Polenta:

Polenta is made from ground corn meal that is boiled for a long time… it is quite labor intensive to prepare because it requires constant stirring. Polenta makes an excellent base to add additional flavors too, think of it like risotto; it pairs well with cheese, spices and herbs, vegetables, and even meat- I once had an amazing sausage polenta in Spain!

Unfortunately, I do not have the time to stand in my kitchen stirring polenta, so I buy it pre-cooked at the grocery store. I recommend San Gennaro polenta which comes in a sausage-like tube. There are endless ways to prepare and serve it, but I prepared mine like so:

1) Heat a small amount of olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat
2) Open polenta and slice into 1/2 inch slices and add to pan, fry on each side until lightly toasted brown – polenta has a lot moisture so it might take a few minutes (it is already cooked, so you are just adding heat and creating texture). I left it unseasoned – besides s&p of course – since I had such flavorful accompaniments on the plate.

San Gennaro also sells flavored polenta, basil garlic, sun-dried tomato etc., but I prefer original and flavoring it myself! If you have not cooked with polenta I suggest you try it – its a wonderful alternative to pasta, rice and potatoes!

nutritionally speaking:
excellent source of omega 3!!
Vitamins  A, B6, B12, C, K, niacin, thiamin, iron,  protein, folate and dietary fiber. 

Lastly, I paired this dish with a delicious wine, Gnarly Head‘s Old Vine Zin, vintage 2009. This medium-bodied wine had zesty flavors of plum, cherry, pepper and a hint of spice. The toasted spicy flavor paired well with the salmon and Brussels sprouts because of their spicy/sweet flavors and BBQ-like taste and texture. Slightly chilled this wine would be perfect with cheese and crackers or at a BBQ  this summer!

January 27, 2011

what’s in season wednesday

brussels sprouts are the feature of this edition of what’s in season wednesday. a versatile vegetable with belgium origins (approx. 16th century), brussels sprouts are extremely good for you – one serving has more vitamin c than 3 whole oranges! about 75% of our nation’s brussels sprouts are grown in california. brussels sprouts have a notoriously bad reputation, but if cooked well and seasoned just right, brussels sprouts are a wonderful, delicious and nutritious side dish to any winter meal.

a beautiful cold season crop – the peak season runs september to february -brussels sprouts are lucky to be in the same family as the famously nutritious broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale and mustard greens. they really are just tiny versions of cabbage.

it is best to steam your sprouts, or roast them for an extra crispy texture and flavor. i’ve even had them fried buffalo style, and they were delicious. boiling/overcooking brussels sprouts is a bad idea because it will significantly reduce the amount of sulforaphane, which is believed to prevent cancer. they are also a great source of indole-3-carbinol, believed to block the growth of cancer cells.

to make delicious chili-powder brussels sprouts:

try to buy sprouts still on the stalk when possible. they’ll be fresher, and its fun to cut them off. sprouts already removed from the stalk work fine too. wash them well, and slice them in half. in a large fry pan heat up 1-4 tablespoons of butter (depends how many sprouts you have, and how much you like butter) and add sprouts. put a lid on the fry pan and steam for about 10 minutes.

next add flavor… season the sprouts with salt, pepper and chili powder. the chili powder is key here – i discovered last winter that brussels sprouts come alive when spiced with chili power, the combination is delicious. how much you add depends on your spice/heat tolerance. i add a lot! continue to steam on low/medium heat until sprouts are cooked well – tasting is the best method to determine if they are done. they should be slightly crisp, but easy to chew. if you have overcooked your sprouts they will be bitter and have a bad after taste (hence the bad reputation!). chili-powder brussels sprouts are simple and reheat very well so make extra!

nutritionally speaking: excellent source of vitamins a, b6 and c, great source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin and very high in dietary fiber. low in saturated fat, sodium, and no cholesterol