A beautiful, healthy salad that combines thinly shredded brussels sprouts and red cabbage with toasted walnuts and Pecorino cheese. Simple but so delicious.
In the midst of all the joyous holiday feasting, it’s easy to forget the pleasures of a simple, really good salad. Don’t get me wrong, one glance at our Instagram feed tells you that we’re chock full of holiday spirit (in the form of toffee, cookies and homemade eggnog) but sometimes it all becomes just a bit too much, you know?
It’s a shame about toffee apples, it really is. In theory, I ought to love them.
There’s the toffee, which, as our Ultimate English Toffee recipe proves, we’re all about. I have no problem with the toffee.
There are the apples – and who doesn’t like apples? Your basic apple is basically the perfect snack – you can eat it on the go without getting your hands covered in crumbs, it’s got plenty of natural fiber, vitamins and that, they’re available pretty much all year round no matter where you live.
And there’s the stick, to hold it with. (Don’t eat the stick.)
Toffee apples – those of a more American persuasion might be more familiar with them as “candy apples” – are a mainstay of Autumn, and the first hints of autumnal flavors in our cooking always give me a frisson of delight (no, Pumpkin Spice Latte, I am definitely NOT looking at you). But a toffee apple just leaves me cold.
So why am I banging on about toffee apples if I don’t even like them that much? And what’s that picture of a cake doing at the top of this post?
When life gives you basil, make basil pesto. It’s the perfect accompaniment to salads, pasta, as a bake-in sauce for chicken and many other dishes. Since we’re cheap, we substituted affordable walnuts for pricey pine nuts.
We’re finally getting better at this whole “growing stuff” thing. Our first year here we struggled with just a few herbs on the deck. We grew some thyme, a bit of sage, a little rosemary. One scraggly little basil plant that got some sort of fungus and never recovered. Our second year was a little better. The rosemary was bushier, the chives flowered beautifully. Basil seemed happier.
This year, pow! Basil explosion. We’re growing them in large pots in a very sunny spot and they’ve gone absolutely bonkers. It’s like Day of the Triffids out there.
If, like us, you have a mountain of basil in your garden, go make pesto! And then make this pesto couscous salad and feel damn proud of yourself.
With great gardening power comes great gardening responsibility. Namely, what the heckings do I do with the huge jungle of basil that is currently exploding in my front garden? Well fair reader, I’m glad you asked.
The first thing I did was make Basil Pesto with Walnuts and Pecorino. Holy moly, is it tasty. (I list a whole bunch of uses for it on that post but this magnificent salad deserved a post of its very own).
The idea came about because Matt and I had plans to go to a Sangria Festival at a local winery with some friends (and yes, this event is exactly as fun as it sounds.) We’ve gone the last few years and had an absolutely amazing time. It’s basically a huge picnic, with the most incredible views of the Hudson River, and endless access to refreshingly delicious but dangerously potent sangrias. It’s a week later and I’m still recuperating (#old).
What’s better than Carrot Cake? Moist and tender Carrot Cupcakes with vanilla-flecked cream cheese frosting (just because you get one all to yourself).
Carrot cupcakes are perfect for the Venn diagram of people who like carrot cake and people who like cupcakes … let’s face it, that’s basically everyone, right?
Yesterday, like two slightly terrified mole-rats unused to sunlight and open space, Matt and I ventured out onto our deck and… stood there.
“That’s, um, great,” says a normal person, “but are you sure it’s a story worth typing up and putting on the internet?”
Yes. Yes it is.
We turned our faces towards the warm sun, each with a steaming cup of coffee clasped in our pale, trembling hands. Our huge pink eyes had grown unused to the light and we blinked, almost afraid to believe it, half convinced that the heat was a practical joke and nature was going to dump a foot of snow on us the moment we let our guard down. So we waited, nervous and twitchy, but nothing happened.
“I think it’s going to be okay,” Matt said quietly. I looked out at the brown, battered garden and noticed tiny little green shoots poking up out of the dirt. The first stems of garlic. Yes, I thought, it will be.
Yup, this winter is Ramsay Bolton and we, my friends, we are Reek. (For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about and who clicked on that first link and think I’ve gone insane, I apologize and assure you that I have not. It’s just that Game of Thrones has started again and I’m a little… distracted). Full disclosure; I spent an entire hour looking for the perfect Ramsay Bolton gif, and boy did it pay off. Click it. Go on. Do it.
This version of shredded brussels sprouts with bacon and pecans might be the perfect Thanksgiving side dish, and can be made ahead to save you T-day stress.
I admit it. I love brussels sprouts. And not just for Thanksgiving, either. I think it’s probably one of the vegetables that Matt and I make most often. Our standard go-to recipe is to split them in half, coat them with olive oil, course salt and pepper and roast them in a very hot oven until they are as brown and crispy as french fries. The only tricky thing about that method is that they have to be served piping hot, right out of the oven or they get a little soggy. Still tasty, but not transcendent.
For me, getting all the side dishes timed perfectly so they’re at the exact perfect temperature by the time the turkey is ready is one of the most stressful parts of Thanksgiving. I feel like the kitchen becomes a ten ring circus, with every burner going on the stovetop and a million things stuffed into the oven. Oy, I’m giving myself agita just thinking about it. That’s why I like to serve at least a couple of dishes that are great at room temperature. These brussles sprouts fit that bill because they are absolutely delicious hot, warm or room temp.