Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
March 28, 2011, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Salad, Side Dish, Vegetable | Tags: , , , ,

This is a more of a continuation of the last post than a new post.  This brussels sprouts dish provided a healthy complement to the white truffle mac ‘n’ cheese.  It was an addition that I was hoping would be used to provide a simple and alternative flavor to the rich, creamy flavors of the mac ‘n’ cheese.

My delicious meal of white truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, brussels sprouts, bread and wine was complemented by the wonderful personalities and conversations of/with Saoirse and Ciara Owens and Juan Graham.  It was a great and relaxing way to end the weekend.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta (from Food & Wine)

I feel redundant, but this is a straightforward recipe.  Believe it or not, three pounds of brussels sprouts do fit in one pot of boiling water.  Lastly, I have one addition and one suggestion for you.  The addition: increase the sun-dried tomatoes to roughly 10 ounces and add 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts to the final product.  Toast pine nuts over moderate heat, no oil required.  The suggestion: The recipe states to cook the brussels sprouts, cut side down, with 1/4 cup olive oil over high heat until slightly browned.  I can’t believe anyone has a pan big enough for 3 lbs of brussels sprouts to be facing down on the pan.  So either divide the oil and brussels sprouts in three batches or forgo the requirement that they all lay cut side down.  I learned by doing and therefore needed to use additional olive oil which resulted in a final product that had slightly too much olive oil.


Protein-Rich Black Quinoa Salad
January 13, 2011, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Salad, Side Dish, Vegetable | Tags: , , , , ,

Since this is the first true post in 2011 (I made the food from the last post on Dec 31st) I thought it was mandatory that it be a healthy dish.  And maybe rightfully so for Philadelphia if you believe Men’s Health Magazine.  According to Men’s Health, Philadelphia is near last in fitness and overall health categories.  I neither agree nor disagree with Men’s Health’s ranking of Philadelphia.  It’s hard to take a magazine seriously that also ranks the  drunkest cities in America!  However, at the same time there are many days where the lines at Wendy’s are more populated than the running trail or the gym.  To dissect Men’s Health’s results and understand it’s flaw, one has to understand the make-up of this city.  The majority of the city can be found outside the tall buildings of Center City in poor neighborhoods. Although not an excuse for poor overall city health, it does tend to skew the city’s image for someone outside Philadelphia.  We do not have an extensive subway system (not that we truly need one) and as a result, many people walk and bike to work. The city has even begun a bike-share program similar to  the car-share program, Zipcar.  After-work hours and weekends provide lots of activity such as running and biking, swimming and hiking in Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country.  If you combine the physical activity aspect of our city with the availability of fresh and relatively low cost fruits and vegetables (Note: it was recently reported that Philadelphia’s food stamp program, SNAP, is used more in Reading Terminal Market, than in anywhere else in the city.  A diverse and healthy selection of foods can be found at Reading Market.), I think we have a city that is just as healthy as any other large city.

Protein-Rich Black Quinoa Salad (From 5 second rule)

Lately I’ve been doing quite a bit of exercising.  Not because I’m like the majority of people who stated that this is the year they get back to the gym, but because I’m getting back into shape in preparation for training for a triathlon.  In other words, I’m training to train for a triathlon.  As anyone who has ever trained for athletic endeavors such as a triathlon or a marathon knows, with increased exercise comes increased need for energy.  I eat and I eat often.  In order to ensure that my muscles do not counter-productively wither away I have to make sure I consume plenty of protein.  I could speak for a couple hours on protein (in graduate school I gave two, one-hour presentations on protein to an undergraduate class), but just know that protein is an important macronutrient for overall health and sports performance.  This salad is packed with protein, great for both athletes and overall healthy eating.

If you already checked out the link to the recipe you know that it calls for pomegranate molasses.  Don’t worry, it’s not difficult to make.  It merely involves 4 cups pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.  Combine the ingredients in a moderately sized pot over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat and allow it to reduce to 1 cup, about 70 minutes.  Transfer to a container, let cool for 30 minutes and then store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Using the pomegranate molasses, make the dressing for the salad.  Combine 2 teaspoons molasses, 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar and 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.  Season with fresh ground pepper and salt.

Quinoa.  It’s name alone makes it intriguing.  Let’s be honest, there are a lot of words that sound nothing like how it is spelled.  Unless you live in Philly you probably still haven’t figured out how to pronounce “Schuylkill” as in the “Schuylkill River Trail” that I continually refer to when I reference my running.  To be honest, for the longest time I didn’t know how to pronounce “quinoa.”   I thought it was pronounced similar to one of my favorite vacation spots, “Kiawah.”  Nope.  Apparently it’s pronounced “/kin-wa/” or “/keen-wa/.”

Quinoa, a grain, is prepared like rice.  It must be rinsed and then is cooked in water until the quinoa is tender, absorbs a great majority of the water and lets out a white curlicue tendrils.  Remove any remaining water and let it cool to room temperature.

Dice the cucumber and avocado, collect 1 cup of fresh pomegranate seeds (~1 pomegranate) and rinse 15 oz of black beans.  Combine these ingredients with the cooled black quinoa.  Mix in the pomegranate molasses mixture and add additional salt to taste.  Serve and enjoy!