mint

Lebanese Brussel Sprouts

One of my favorite things about living in NYC is that you can find any cuisine from any part of the world, no matter how obscure.  One of my top 5 favorite cuisines is Lebanese food.  Of course the hummus, Babaganoush, lamb dishes and Tabbouleh are second to none, but one of my favorite Lebanese restaurants in town, has the best brussel sprouts you will ever taste.  So good that I did everything in my power to figure out the recipe.  After a few trial runs I came pretty darn close to the recipe! These are perfect for your next dinner party or holiday celebration!  They are nutty and sweet and umami and they take you on a flavor journey. This dish consists of Brussel Sprouts, a mint yogurt sauce, fig jam, toasted walnuts and sliced red grapes.  With each bite and each breath you will be introduced to new flavors and textures. A great recipe isn't one dimensional, it makes you experience and array of different flavors as you are eating it. This gorgeous dish is sure to impress!

brussel fig.jpg

 

Ingredients- 

  1. 1/2 Cup Water
  2. 10 Dried Black Mission Figs (cut the stems off)
  3. 1/2 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
  4. 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  5. About 18 oz Brussel Sprouts (I use two round containers you buy in the grocery store)
  6. Olive Oil
  7. 3/4 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt (I like to use Fage brand)
  8. 1  Garlic Clove Minced 
  9. 2 Heaping Teaspoons Tahini Paste (Sesame Paste)
  10. 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  11. 1  1/2  Tablespoons Fresh Mint Chopped
  12. 1/2 Cup Red Seedless Grapes Sliced Thin
  13. 1/3 Cup (or more depending on what you like) of Lightly Toasted Walnut Halves
  14. Salt and Pepper to taste

Steps-

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Prepare the Fig Jam by placing the dried figs, the water, sugar and vinegar in a small pot.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook the figs until they rehydrate and almost all of the liquid is evaporated and whatever is left is syrup like.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and then place in a food processor or blender until smooth and jam like.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Prepare the Yogurt Sauce by blending the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, Fresh Mint, Garlic, Tahini, and a dash of Salt and Pepper. 
  4. Wash and dry the Brussel Sprouts and cut the tough core off the bottom.  Slice each sprout in half or in quarters if they are really big.  You just want them bite size.  Lay them on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and drizzle them with olive oil , the 2 Tablespoons of Sherry Vinegar and salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven until they are golden brown and crispy on the edges and tender inside. 
  5. Place the Brussel Sprouts in a bowl and toss them in a few spoonfuls of the yogurt sauce and a few spoonfuls of the fig jam, and the toasted walnuts.  You do not want them saturated in it, you just want them to pick up some of the flavor.  
  6. Plate them on on a nice serving dish and sprinkle some more of the nuts nicely on top along with a nice sprinkle of the sliced grapes.  Using a spoon drizzle some more of the yogurt sauce on top and then dot some more of the fig jam on top.  Garnish with more fresh mint if you'd like. 

Summer Lovin Salad- Fava Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Watercress, Mint Vinaigrette & Manchego Cheese

 

We are in the final days of Spring and sailing right into summertime which to me means sunshine, the beach, relaxing in the park and...the BEST fruits and vegetables are in season!  This salad is the perfect addition to your summer BBQ or dinner party menu.  It is light, refreshing, crisp and very unique in flavor and appearance.  It is unique in that it doesn't have your typical ingredients like Romaine, Arugula or Iceberg.  It uses three things that are in season right now and they are Fava Beans, Watercress and Sugar Snap Peas.  Fava beans are not a common ingredient for most households but they should be! They are beautiful to look at and have a creamy, but crisp texture and almost a cheesy, earthy flavor that goes perfect with my mint vinaigrette and the Manchego cheese. 

Ingredients-

1  1/2 Cups Shucked Fava Beans

3/4 Lb Sugar Snap Peas Washed Throughly

1/2 Cup Watercress Leaves (remove the large tough stems)

1/3 Cup Pearl Onions (frozen and thawed)- You can use fresh as well but make sure you cook them through.

White Sugar (just a dash or two)

Manchego Cheese (Using a potato peeler or mandolin shave long thin strips of cheese and set aside)

Dressing-

1/4-1/3 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves

Juice of half a Lemon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Canola Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Honey (you can always add more if the dressing is too bitter)

1 Heaping Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard

1 Small Clove of Garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Steps-

First prepare the dressing by blending the Mint, Dijon, Lemon Juice, Garlic, Honey, a dash of salt and pepper and a drizzle of both olive oil and canola oil (using a blend of oils prevents the dressing from being too bitter) in a food processor or blender.   Add more oil a little at a time until it reaches the consistency of a vinaigrette or lite dressing  Add more salt and pepper if needed. Seal in a container and set aside in the fridge to let the flavors meld together.

The Salad-

Remove and discard the stem and natural "string" from each Sugar Snap Pea Pod. Set aside. 

Fill a large bowl of water with ice and water and set aside. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and then drop the Sugar Snap Peas in the water.  Boil them in the water for 2 minutes only and then using a slotted spoon remove them from the water and place them in the bowl of ice water to shock them.  This helps them retain their color and crunch and cooks them ever so slightly.  Once they are cooled in the ice water remove them and dry them off on paper towels (set aside).

Do the same thing with the shucked Fava Beans but for about 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain and shock in the ice water then remove the outer skin gently.  Try not to break up the beans you want them to hold their beautiful shape.

In a small frying pan, place the peeled pearl onions and sprinkle them with a little white sugar.  Cook on medium heat rolling them around and coating them with the sugar until the onions caramelize/brown and they are cooked and heated through.  Set aside.  

Toss the Fava Beans together in a large bowl with the Snap Peas, pearl onions and the cleaned Watercress.

Dress the Salad with a little vinaigrette at a time, making sure you coat each pea and bean evenly but do not over dress.  

Spoon the salad onto a serving dish and then take a few shavings of the Manchego Cheese and lay it on top as shown in my photo.  You can also just shave the cheese and toss it with the salad!  

Enjoy!