This past weekend was so incredibly gorgeous I almost forgot to eat. You know the type: blue skies with puffy white clouds, blossoms bursting from every tree branch, birds chirping all over the place; if we hadn't just gone through the longest, grayest winter in forever, the whole scene would be nauseatingly perfect. Instead, it's very welcome and I spent a lot of time enjoying the sun and reminding myself of what it's like to walk without an ankle brace (after 4 loooong months! Yay!). I even went as far as to treat myself to an al fresco lunch in my non-backyard (it's really a fenced in parking lot, but enough imagination fixes that). The menu included some grilled shrimp over couscous and a little salad I've been meaning to post since the beginning of the year, when I was all freaked out about that MasterChef audition.
I had originally wanted this to be a salad of delicate little brussels sprout leaves, but once I started getting going on that task I realized I have absolutely no patience for such a crazy thing. Maybe it's because I was antsy to get back outside to enjoy said salad instead of working with tiny leaves, but I hope to make this happen someday as I’m sure it will be very lovely. Anyway, I decided to cheat and pan-fry my sprouts instead and though it changed the recipe a bit, I was still pretty pleased with the result. The nutty flavor of the pan-fried sprouts is complemented beautifully by the sweet tartness of the cranberries and crunchy texture of the almonds, with everything brought together by a light honey & Dijon vinaigrette. It’s the type of salad that could run you anywhere from $7-10 per serving at a restaurant or café but will only cost you about that much on the ingredients alone for 3 servings if you make your own at home. With the money you save you can splurge and have a bit of wine with your al fresco lunch; which I would have done had I not decided to go crazy and give up wine for Lent (!!!!!!!!!!).
Oh, and if you have access to some good goat cheese, I highly recommend crumbling some on top once the salad is ready to serve. It lends an amazing creaminess that goes perfectly with the rest of the salad ingredients! If not, no worries; I’d just happened to find a small bit hanging out behind my low-fat feta and figured it might be fun to try it out. The salad’s delicious just as written, so don’t feel pressured to run out and get goat cheese just to make this (NEVER feel pressured to buy any ingredients just to make a particular PGEW recipe! Use what you have at home to cook and make a different recipe if you have to; trust me, I have plenty). Now, let’s check out the recipe.
Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette (makes 3 side servings; total cost per serving: ~$3)
1-2 lbs Brussels sprouts (about 30 sprouts or so)
½ c dried cranberries
1/3 c chopped almonds
1 T olive oil
1-2 cloves finely minced garlic
Salt & pepper to taste
1-2 oz. crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
2 T light olive oil
1 ½ T white wine vinegar
1 T honey
1 T Dijon mustard
¼ t granulated garlic
Pinch of salt
Dash of black pepper
Prepare the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisking together vigorously until completely combined. Set aside. Rinse the Brussels sprouts, trim off the ends and remove any soiled or wilted leaves, then cut each sprout into quarters (if they’re really small, halves will also be okay). Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet and add the minced garlic, cooking until just slightly fragrant. Add the Brussels sprouts and stir fry over medium high heat for about 4-5 minutes or until slightly tender, seasoning with salt & pepper about halfway through. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, assemble the salad by tossing together the sprouts, cranberries, chopped almonds and the dressing. Let the salad sit for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with extra chopped almonds and plenty of freshly ground pepper, and enjoy!