“Give me all the green things!” That is literally what my mind is screaming come January and February.
Along with “Dear God, how can it be so cold?”, and the inevitable “Why do we live here?” You can’t fully understand how obvious and annoying it is to still be asking these Q’s unless you’ve lived here your whole life, so shush on my bad attitude. (Which is getting slapped in the face by the past week’s 60°?!)
On a more sensible note, beets. There really is no bad time to roast one. It’s one of those neglected vegetables that I easily pass by if not reminded that roasting beets is not hard.
And a beet salad? So, so good. Especially now.
It’s so easy and special that Evie wanted to show you herself. Watch and learn my adult friends. And if you want to skip ahead to the recipe, all the details are there too. 😉
And once they are cool, here are Ev’s learned tricks to removing the beet skin and making a delicious salad. (She’s honest too so listen for the whispers!)
Reasons you can too?
Folks, she’s 5. Beets are sometimes the color of sunshine or valentines. Arugula is the color of grass. The almonds? Dear, don’t you forget the toasted almonds or the soft goat cheese! AND if you are extra hungry, which is a good thing to notice, put an egg on it! Yum.
Who knows what 2017 will bring but if you are curious, follow me here or here, and I’ll let you know whenever something worth repeating gets made and shared!
Here are the details!
roasted beet salad with arugula, goat cheese, and toasted almonds
P.S. Thanks, Evelyn, for being my current sidekick in the kitchen. Cooking with my young (and older) kids has been one of my favorite memories with my kids. Cole told me when he was 4 that we would one day have a restaurant called the People Place where all people could come. (Love this inclusive way that is IN him.) Ella at 5 would draw me pictures of different restaurants and name them like her “Strawberry Cafe”. (Love her desire to create food and spaces.) Ev keeps all of these memories alive in our family with her youngest spirit, and we are so grateful for the time to play and learn about food and life, together.
Just in case you’ve wondered if “she” even makes things anymore, I do! I do!
Though since the beginning of this year I’ve mostly been working with (and working out at) Bodies by Burgoon. While I haven’t been able to post as much here, I’m still making and sharing, a lot. (Scroll to the bottom for the evidence!?)
1 sweet potato or yam peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1 large handful of brussels sprouts, ends cut off and sprouts halved (about 1 cup)
1 cup of kale, stem removed and leaves chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon of toasted pumpkin seeds
1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil, coconut oil, or clarified butter (or any combination of fat)
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet with a lid available, heat and melt 1 tablespoon of fat on medium-high heat for about a minute.
Add diced potatoes and sprouts. Make sure sprouts are laying on their flat side, sprinkle with a little salt. Turn heat down to medium, cover with a lid and don't disturb for 4 minutes.
After 4 minutes, lift the lid and stir. If any pieces are getting too brown, turn your heat down a bit and if necessary add a bit more fat. Recover and don't disturb for 4-5 more minutes.
Dump your kale and pumpkin seeds into the pan and stir around until combined. Recover your pan for 1-2 minutes more.
Your potatoes should be tender and slightly brown, your kale will be soft, not crispy. If it needs more time, give it a minute or so more.
Note: I have played with the numbers in this recipe. If your pan conducts heat too fast or you use olive oil, your potatoes can burn easily so don't use high heat. Clarified butter and coconut oil have a higher smoking point, and I love the taste. Also, if you like your potatoes more done, give it 5 minutes and 5 minutes rather than 4 minutes and 4 minutes. Practice your hash until you get it just right for you!
Makes 2 servings.
For those of you who know me personally, you know my cooking has been on a trip over the last years. Yes, it’s cliché, but every twist and turn has belonged. My cooking and overall life has changed but perhaps not in the way you would think.
Learning to cook with wine and butter and herbs as an adult was life-changing. While it was never something I did every day, it taught me what excellent food tasted like and taught me to play with quality ingredients. Every time I had something less quality, I was disappointed, and this was not me becoming a food snob but a learner of food and life. In short, cooking wasn’t just about eating amazing things; it was the love of creation, learning, and sharing that had me hooked early on.
As an adult, I did, however, struggle with what to feed my kids and how to afford the healthier stuff for a group, day to day. I would splurge on new recipes for the weekends, but during the week, I floundered and ended up with a strange mix of healthy one day and eating out the next, quick foods we didn’t want to eat but could afford, and a lot more grains and dairy than any of us needed.
Which led my family and me to begin connecting dots with our health overall. When my daughter ate sugar, she got really sick, every single time. When my son didn’t drink enough water or ate too many processed foods, he got headaches. When I ate gluten, my joints hurt and my injuries increased. When we ate good food and whole ingredients we felt good, when we didn’t, we felt icky and got sick in one way or another. It now seems so obvious, but it took more than a few hits to recognize the patterns.
In the last years I have been learning to cook everyday food (saving the weekend wine and butter for occasional still) with quality ingredients, and again it has been life-changing. AND it has taken resources. Eating good food costs money period. I don’t care what anyone says! It also takes cognitive space. If you are in any kind of survival mode or have too full a load or a financially stressed plate, changing the way you eat can feel impossible.
To know what delicious food is and how good food makes me feel has helped me stay determined not to settle with imitations and quick fixes on a daily basis and the weekends. The paths have started to converge and therefore what we are eating has evolved.
In case you’ve missed any of these recipes, I’ve been talking about @heatherbursch, here you go. They might be more simple than my weekend food, but the test crew at home has given them all thumbs up and continually asks for more, and that to me makes them worth sharing. It’s our weekday fare and feels good food of 2015 and 2016. While not every recipe below is my own, I’ve made every single one multiple times. Thank you #fitfam!
Broccoli, Grapes, and Chicken Salad with Yogurt Dressing:
Broccoli, Grapes, and Chicken Salad with Yogurt Dressing
Optional Ingredients: (not included in nutritional information)
¼ cup red onion chopped or sliced
1-2 bacon slices cooked crisp and crumbled
Spinach greens as an additional bottom layer topped with broccoli chicken mixture.
Yogurt Dressing Below!
Fill a metal strainer with the broccoli pieces and set in your sink.
Bring a teapot or stovetop pot of water to boil. Pour boiling water over broccoli slowly, so all pieces get covered with boiling water.
Rinse hot broccoli with cold water for about a minute to stop the cooking. The broccoli should turn a bright shade of green. Let broccoli cool and dry in a colander.
Prep grapes, chicken, sunflower seeds, and dressing.
When ready to make a salad, take a clean lint-free towel or paper towels and gently squeeze broccoli by the fist full. You don't want any water left sitting inside your broccoli. They hold water like a sponge and will water down your dressing.
Once broccoli is dry and gently squeezed, put pieces in a large bowl with chicken, grapes, sunflower seeds, and onion or bacon if you are using.
Add a couple of tablespoons of dressing at a time until perfectly coated, save the remainder. If you are prepping ahead, leave off the dressing until it's time to serve or eat.
Squeeze the juice from ½ of a lime over the avocados and gently mix the ingredients.
Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on top to taste.
Serve as a side to grilled meat, with greens for a more substantial salad, or on its own.
Makes 4 servings.
Tip: If you cut open an avocado and only want to use half, keep the remaining half from browning by rinsing it under cold water and cover. The exposed avocado should stay green for at least a few hours.
Our new favorite anytime meal and so easy to have prepped and ready to make would be Jen’s recipe for Family Breakfast:
1 lb ground turkey or chicken (I like to use a mix of light and dark meat)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire
½ teaspoon of hot sauce (more or less as you like!)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped bell pepper
¼ cup chopped scallions
Drain any liquid off of meat and set in a bowl.
Add all ingredients on top and using 2 forks gently combine being careful not to over mix as it will get mushy.
Form meat mixture into 4 balls and gently flatten them into a burger shape on a cookie sheet.
Put turkey burgers in the refrigerator uncovered until grill is ready.
I like to grill them on direct heat for 3 minutes, then flip over for another 3 minutes. Move burgers to indirect heat to finish cooking them all the way through to 165° when checked with a meat thermometer.
Changing the way you eat (or changing anything!) is hard, and there will be resistance from the inside and outside. What do you want, what do you need, and who is on your team? How do you find some space so you can choose and not just wait to be chosen by circumstances that will eat you up? Do that, go towards finding some space, and whatever you do, don’t quit. XO
Someone recently asked me when I started cleaning up my food. It’s funny because I kind of feel like it’s been a forever and ongoing process. I wonder if that’s how it feels for a lot of us. I’ve long been looking for a path that is sustainable, and the search has kept me learning and trying new things. Whether I’m judging a food by taste or how it makes me feel, I’m also not content repeating things that don’t work. Remember fat free cheese? I only had to try that once.
When it comes to how a food makes me feel? Well that one has required more work to change and to really believe that foods were making me feel like junk, even if I was only eating them once a week. I probably started experimenting with eliminating foods about 8 years ago. Over time and many stops and starts, I’m now realizing that what I really want and crave is good food that doesn’t drag me down or set me back.
The trouble is, I once learned how to make a delicious sauce. The first time I scraped browned bits from a pan with wine, I was hooked (and quite possibly cried. ?) I still feel so proud every time I do that. Consequently, I’m sometimes afraid that eating healthy or making good changes might mean those days are over. Which is crazy! It’s not like I was deglazing pans with wine every night of the week or something. But fear never lets you try anything and talks in absolutes, right?
Which brings me to this cherry sauce. Fear says sauces can’t be made unless they are loaded with sugar, butter, wine, or cream? Says stinking who? Time to experiment.
As it turns out, if you cook cherries, they break down into a thick sauce without needing to fuss with sugar. Shockingly, naturally sweet fruit makes a naturally sweet sauce, no sweetener needed. Ha. Jokes on us all.
Add a few spices and a seasoned pork tenderloin? This sweet and savory plate of delicious dinner is yours.
2 tablespoons of clarified butter or olive oil, divided
½ cup chopped yellow onions
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 bag of frozen sweet cherries (naturally sweet with no sugar added.)
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or a couple of pinches)
Preheat oven to 400°.
In a small bowl combine cumin, salt, and pepper.
Lay your pork tenderloins on a board and generously rub spice mixture until all sides are generously covered. Let set for 15 minutes while you get the cherry sauce started.
In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter or heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium high heat.
Add your onions and stir occasionally until they are softened and start to brown, 3-5 minutes.
Add your cumin and allspice and stir to combine and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add your cherries, balsamic vinegar, cayenne, and ½ cup water to pan, stir to combine. Leave on medium high until the cherries thaw and liquid is boiling. Turn to simmer and continue to cook the cherries and sauce for 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. If the cherries are sticking to the bottom, add a bit more water and turn it down. If the sauce is too runny, turn the heat up and cook for a bit longer until it's more thickened and cherries start to fall apart.
In an oven proof skillet melt remaining oil or clarified butter in an oven proof pan on medium high, when fat is hot add your pork tenderloins.
Sear on one side for about 2 minutes and turn for 2 minutes on the opposite side. Keep turning and cooking until all sides are lightly browned. Do this for 7-8 minutes total, turn down heat as necessary so they don't burn but brown instead.
When all sides of both tenderloins are seared, put skillet in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and check for doneness. When you put a meat thermometer in the thickest part it should read 140°. If you don't have a meat thermometer, pierce the center and if the liquids run clear or faint pink, it's done. In addition, if you push your finger into your tenderloin and it springs back to shape, it is done. If it needs more time, put it back in for a couple minutes.
When pork is ready, let it rest for 5 minutes.
Slice the tenderloins and serve with thickened warm cherry sauce.
While I love to cook, bake, and experiment in the kitchen, I’m with any of you who might dread the 5 pm dinner decision. What do we have? What do we make? Who’s cooking? While 5 pm is not the ideal time to begin asking these questions, it happens more than I like.
Do you ever do the math? 105 times a week someone here in my house is potentially hungry, 52 weeks a year. Are you kidding me? That’s a lot.
We all have a barrage of decisions coming at us on a daily basis, beyond just the 21 personal meals a week (not including snacks, your potential family, and/or your pets)! In an interview a few years back, Michael Lewis did a leadership story and quoted President Obama on how he wears and eats the same thing every day so he can “routinize” his life and “pare down his decisions”. I loved the idea of this but wasn’t always sure how to apply it without disturbing my need for creativity at the same time.
Over the last couple of years I have routinized my breakfast and love all the benefits of having this decision off my to do list. I just haven’t been able to do the lunch and dinner, at least not yet. I have however, been prepping things ahead of time when I can (#sundaysetup), and it’s getting at some of the same freedom for the weekdays.
Every time I’ve made this Tinga recipe in the past, it’s gone in the oven. This past month I went all crockpot with it. While I haven’t always had luck with slow cookers and meat (tastes dry and washed out), the desire to make weeknights less problematic lead me to try again. The smells alone drew cheers from the Bursch crowd, even when I repeated it 2 weeks in a row.
If you don’t want tacos, a side of this meat with vegetables, rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa makes a perfect bowl of dinner as well. Don’t forget to top it all with avocados (squeezed with lime and a sprinkle of salt).?
1 large sweet potato or yam, about 1 lb, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 2-3 lb chuck beef roast (pork shoulder or combination of chicken thighs and chicken breasts work too!)
1 28 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
¼ cup of beef broth (plus 2 tablespoons for the end)
1 ½ teaspoon of salt
1 ½ teaspoon coriander
1 ½ teaspoon of cumin
1 ½ teaspoon of oregano
2 chipotle chiles en adobo seeded, rinsed, and chopped (Whole Foodshas gluten free option)
2-5 teaspoons of sauce from chiles en adobo
1 small to medium onion sliced or chopped
Optional: 4-6 oz fresh chorizo and extra beef broth
Serve with avocado slices, lettuce wraps or corn tortillas, cojita or queso fresco Mexican cheese
In the bottom of your slow cooker layer your chopped sweet potatoes, then lay your beef on top.
In a medium bowl mix the remaining ingredients together and pour on top of beef.
Cover and turn your slow cooker to high for 6 hours.
When the meat is done, pour off the liquids into a saucepan and turn on high. Let the liquid boil and cook down into more of a thick sauce. I'd let it go for 15 minutes or so if you can. Add more beef broth if the mixture gets to dry.
If adding chorizo, fry in a pan until cooked through and browned. Splash a tablespoon or two of beef broth in the pan to scrape up the browned bits and add the chorizo + bits on top of beef.
When you have cooked down the liquids pour them back on top of your meat and potatoes.
Separate the beef with two forks into bite size chunks and stir the meats, potatoes and sauce together gently. Don’t over mix or mash.
Serve with toppings listed above.
For the oven, place meat, then potatoes, then sauce mixture in a roasting pan with a lid. Cover and cook on a low 300° for 2½ -3 hours. Cook down liquids if needed (not as much liquid this way) and add chorizo step to finish if desired.
This idea that we can (need to) reduce our cognitive load makes a ton of sense to me. As a food lover and creator, this has been complicated because it’s my thing. But like I said, it’s not my thing 105 times a week when all I really want is to get creative and try something new once or twice a week.
Now that I thought about that aloud with you, I’m seeing things a bit more clearly. How about you? What’s your number, what’s your load?
I love meatballs. They are the quintessential burger if you ask me. (Pssst, ask me.)
No one has to bother removing a bun or thinking they are less than without the bossy bread. Relief.
Bake them, fry them, broil them. Options.
They can be forked, toothpicked, lettuce wrapped, or handled. Classy or casual.
The ONLY downfall with meatballs is how good they taste and perform when stuffed with fatty meat, cheese, and bread. Ugh, deliciousness. When I’ve experimented by removing these items, the flavor changes (obviously), and the meatballs can lean towards hard and dry.
I do not give up easily. I wanted a meatball for every day, ones that can pack a punch in protein and flavor but are not high in fat and fillers. It’s tricky.
Having had bits and pieces in my fridge for a few weeks, it was the natural outcome in meatball form. The grated cucumber, olive oil, and egg keep them moist and hold it all together.
Needless to say we’ve been eating some meatballs around here. Testing, testing, 1-2-3.
And here is where we landed: Greek meatballs in a lettuce wrap with lemony yogurt dressing. I tossed a few Kalamata olives, scallions, and cucumbers on top because they were already prepped for my salad above.
I totally forgot about wild rice until I made those stuffed apples in December. Then the half empty bag of rice was sitting there staring at me from my cupboard. Which is what Kale did for months every time I opened the refrigerator. I made kale chips a few years back and the leftover fresh kale just glared at me until I had to toss it. This throwing away of food bothers me sooooo much so I just kept buying it (and growing it) until I found a way to like it. It’s my own personal brain hack – applying the perfect amount of pressure helps me to create and try, try again.
The wild rice takes about an hour to make so it’s perfect for a prepping day, or when you have other things to do. It cooks itself and stores easily in the fridge until you want to create something delicious.
Prep your chicken, squash, rice, and kale ahead of time and this dish can be ready for dinner in 5 mintues. FIVE MINUTES, people. This is why I neeeeed to set myself up for the week, a little pain on one day is my gain in the days to come. We all loved it and Tim suggested it could be great as a cold salad too. Smart guy.
2 cups of kale leaves finely chopped (stems removed)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
½ teaspoon of sesame oil
1 clove of garlic crushed
2 tablespoon of coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of dried cranberries (optional)
coconut aminos or soy sauce to pass
Prep the wild rice, chicken, and kale. Set aside or refrigerate.
To prep squash, chop into small cubes and put on a cookie sheet. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over pieces. Using clean hands make sure every piece has a little oil on it as well as the pan. Roast in a 400° oven for 15-20 minutes until tender.
When ready to combine, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and ½ teaspoon of sesame oil in a large sautè pan on medium high heat until it is thin and moves easily to coat your pan bottom.
Toss in your crushed garlic and stir it around for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add rice and chicken and let it fry for about 30 seconds, stirring.
Next add squash letting it fry for 15 seconds, then stir, fry for 15 seconds, then stir.
Stir in the kale and cranberries if you are using. Let it fry and start to wilt as you continue to stir, about 1 minute.
Last, drizzle your coconut aminos in the pan, give it a stir to combine and immediately cover for 1 minute to create a little hot steam for your kale to cook a bit more.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with extra aminos, soy sauce, and/or hot pepper sauce on the side.
My family of 5 ate this for lunch. For dinner I’d probably double it for the 5 of us and add a salad or more roasted vegetables on the side. One onion averse friend of mine might just notice there are no onions in this recipe, eh hem. This is very unusual for me, but you could add scallions to the stir fry section of your recipe. Or steamed brocolli. Or cauliflower. Last but not least and listed as optional above, dried cranberries. While I didn’t include them in the nutritional facts below, look what I found at Whole Foods:
Cranberries NOT sweetened with sugar and corn syrup! This made me very happy and I might just be adding a little tablespoon here and there.
You get the picture. Just prep it and make yourself something simple and satisfying in 5 minutes. Done.
Speaking of prepping, learn more about #sundaysetup over here!
We pretty much forgot to eat sugar in December, I mean like really eat sugar. (Don’t hate me and stop reading!) It wasn’t completely on purpose but more like saying we didn’t get a chance to go sledding. Sledding isn’t a part of our daily life, we have to go out of our way to do it, and there has to be a decent amount of snow to really be worth a ride down a bumpy hill. I’m not sure if this is working, but I’m going with it.
I think a few years ago I stopped making desserts that sit in the house for more than a day. If we make them, we enjoy them in that moment, guilt free, and then promptly give the rest away. Phew! This has been brilliant for me personally. I love to make and share, but I do not love staring at cookies for days.
While I don’t make sugar a part of our daily life at home anymore, when it’s a birthday or holiday we really go out of our way to make it worth it, something truly special. Like Jaime Oliver’s Brazilian Donuts I made with gluten free all purpose flour and dipped in dark boozy chocolate for Christmas morning. Yesssssss.
And that would be our present philosophy/goal on sugar: It has to be worth it–good enough and worth the consequences, because there are some for most of us.
This butterscotch custard makes the list of worth it for all of us in Burschland. It was the one dessert I actually made this Christmas, not counting the breakfast dessert donuts, ha! It’s made from scratch and a gluten free dessert option to boot.
I’ve made it every which way:
Butterscotch custard with whipped cream and chocolate shavings:
Butterscotch custard with bananas, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings:
Butterscotch custard a la creme brulee with the tiniest sprinkle of salt:
And my personal favorite, butterscotch custard with bananas bruleed:
I’m taking this recipe with me into 2016, even if I don’t pull it out until next Christmas! 😉 And since I made this again for a photo shoot, I have a couple left just waiting to give away. 😉
2 tablespoons of turbinado or coarse sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
4 egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla
Whipped cream and chocolate topping option:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup, honey, or sugar
a dash of vanilla or bourbon if you wish
1 dark chocolate bar chunk to make sprinkles
Optional: banana slices
Brulee topping option:
2 tablespoons of coarse sugar or turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
pinch of salt
Optional: banana slices
Preheat oven to 300°.
In one medium sauce pan whisk 1½ cups of cream, 6 tablespoons of brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of salt over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Let mixture heat until just simmering.
In a new medium sauce pan combine raw sugar and water over medium to high heat. With a clean whisk, mix until sugar is dissolved. Set your timer for 5 minutes and let it bubble and brown, stirring occasionally. When the timer is up remove from heat and add your hot cream to the sugar water mixture. Whisk until combined. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until fully combined.
In a slow steady stream, pour hot cream mixture into the egg yolks whisking as you pour, or set your mixer to slowest stirring speed while you pour your cream into your moving mixer.
Once combined, pour the liquid through a strainer into a large glass measuring cup. You should have about 2 cups total. Skim off the foam with a spoon.
Divine your liquid into ramekins, brulee dishes, or oven proof mugs. I've used any of these options.
Set your dishes on a rimmed metal cookie sheet or cake pan.
Pour boiling water (from teapot) into the larger dish so the water surrounds the ramekins and creates a water bath to bake and steam your custards.
Set your cookie sheet or pan of water and custards into your 300° oven for 35 minutes. Take a peek at your custards. If they seems wet and jiggly in the middle, give it another 3-5 minutes to set.
When ready, remove ramekins from water bath with tongs or hot pads, and set on a wire rack to cool.
Custards can be served slightly warm or at room temperature. (They can also be made ahead, cooled, and refrigerated.)
Whipped cream and chocolate topping:
Whip cream with a teaspoon or two of maple syrup, honey, or sugar on high until soft peaks form. Taste and add more sweetener, a splash of vanilla or a teaspoon of bourbon if you like.
Using a vegetable peeler, run the blade down the side of a chocolate bar to make shavings.
Top custards with whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate shavings.
Sprinkle cooled custards with a teaspoon of sugar across each surface. (If desired, sprinkle the smallest pinch of salt in addition for added flavor contrast.) Using a creme brulee torch, scorch the top to melt the sugar.
If you are adding bananas, layer thinly sliced bananas across the top, sprinkle with sugar, and torch.
(If you do not have a torch, place sugared brulees under the broiler for 30 seconds or so until bubbling and melted.)
Everything I am about to share with you is a gift for the remainder of your Thanksgiving week. It’s a hug in the form of greens. It’s positivity sandwiched before and after your indulgent Thanksgiving day. In case I’m confusing you here, it’s actually a salad, but it accomplishes both hugs and positivity.
You are going to want to eat it today if my pictures do it any justice. AND since you will be in the grocery store with every other single person in your city tomorrow (ugh!), you are going to want to just grab more kale and squash because a) they are both probably on sale and b) you know Thursday might make you crave green food for the weekend. Kale leading you in and kale leading you out.
If by chance you’ve been asked to bring a salad to your Thanksgiving festivities? Bring this one. Even if your family is like mine and for some reason has taken it on as their cause to dislike kale. I say, bring it on.
It is one of the best salads I’ve had in awhile, like since my last kale salad craving I suppose. Around this time of year, I tend to seek a salad to lighten my lunch life. Last year I was on repeat with the beloved Kale and Brussels Salad below.
But this year, this week, this month, has me looking and loving my lunch again thanks to our recent trip. A week ago I had just flown to meet up with Tim in NYC and sat down at the hotel restaurant, Marta, for a lunch date with myself. Tim recommended the Pollo Salad which was delicata squash, Brussels, kale, perfectly pulled chicken, toasted pumpkin seeds and some fantastic dried cheese. I went from this lunch to 3 more days of incredible meals all over NYC, but this salad did not leave my mind come Monday. I think it’s because it was beautiful but also felt attainable in the near future.
Delicata squash, friends. Do you all know about this? I might be the only one who has somehow skipped over this particular squash in the past, but this is why I LOVE eating out and traveling. It’s the exposure to a world of people and food that is different but so very good. I very quickly found delicata squash at Whole Foods last week, as if I’d walked by it a million times. No worries, this is what I know now: you don’t have to peel it. What? Delicata is revolutionary squash eating for the lazy/busy person. The thin skin cooks perfectly and holds the soft squash together in one great bite. Such a bonus.
If I were bringing it to Thanksgiving, I would skip the chicken obviously, but for lunch, I’d do it just this way.
Here is my salad selfie for the rest of November, sandwiched of course before and after some brown sugar pecan topped sweet potatoes.
1 delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into ½ inch pieces
2 big handfuls of brussels sprouts, ends removed and halved
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large bunch of kale, leaves removed from thick center stem and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup raw and shelled pumpkin seeds
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts pan fried or grilled, sliced into strips
Pecorino cheese grated or thinly sliced (optional)
2 teaspoons of dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of honey (can skip if you prefer savory)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of pepper
Preheat oven to 400°.
Spread your raw pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and roast for 8 minutes. Continue toasting if some are still green, until evenly brown but not burned, check every few minutes until puffed and lightly brown. Shake a little salt on top and stir around, scrape onto a plate to cool.
Toss squash pieces and halved Brussels with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a rimmed cookie sheet. If vegetables look dry, add a little bit more oil to make sure they are lightly coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 20 minutes.
For the vinaigrette, add all ingredients to a small jar and shake well or whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
When your vegetables have cooked for 20 minutes, stir and check to see if squash and Brussels are tender by poking with a fork. If you prefer either vegetable to be cooked more, return to oven for 5 minutes more at the most and taste to your liking.
To prep salad, toss kale pieces with a couple of tablespoons of dressing at a time, making sure that each piece gets coated. Give greens a good stir and see if you need more dressing if so add a spoonful more.
Spread your greens on a large serving platter or individual plates.
Top your plate of greens with warm squash, Brussels, and chicken pieces. Sprinkle with ½ of your pumpkin seeds and grate pecorino cheese on last if you are using.
I like to leave extra dressing, cheese, and pumpkin seeds on the table so individuals can add more as desired.
Apparently my last 3 months can be paired with fruit. I wonder if I can keep this going?
The peaches and these people.
The grapes and this girl.
The pears and purgatory.
See what I did there? Matchy-matchy. And by purgatory, I don’t exactly mean an uphill climb rather a downward slope. Heaven knows there is only one direction to go from there. Please say yes, November.
In spite of an annoying October, I did go searching for pears. Here’s the thing about pears, you HAVE to bring them home hard but not tooooo hard. The other day I found some lovely ripe organic bartlett pears but by the time the grocery bagger at the new Hyvee decided to put them at the bottom of a bag filled with bananas, coffee grounds, butter, popcorn, coconut aminos and a gallon of milk on top (not even kidding), they were pear sauce in a plastic bag when I got home. In this context, how gross does that sound? Grocery bag pear sauce for $8. Even if they hadn’t rumbled roughly down the grocery conveyer belt (yes, that too) you need hard enough pears to survive the trip home.
Good grief. When you hear things like, buy pears hard but not too hard, or make sure they are bagged correctly, oh and smell your fruit, it’s no wonder people stop trying to eat fresh foods. (For reals though, I do smell my fruit. If it smells like a rock then it probably tastes like one.)
Oh dearest pear tree, where ever art thou? Oh, that’s right, not in Minnesota. 🙁 They were however found in my fruit loop journey through Oregon this past September–fruit farms and stands right on the side of the road, you lucky people of Oregon.
Pears are the perfect partners to pork and potatoes, and you don’t need them very ripe to roast just right.
Add just a little onion to the mix, and you have another reason to love.
It’s a simple combination and one of our favorite fall dinners.
4 potatoes scrubbed, sliced thinly into wedges lengthwise, at least 8 wedges per potato so they can cook all the way through. Use russet, sweet potatoes or yams!
½ red or yellow onion cut into 4 chunks and separate
4 barely ripe pears quartered and seeded
4 short sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked for at least 1 tablespoon roughly chopped
4 heads of garlic peeled and crushed
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup olive oil
¾ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
additional salt and pepper to season the pork
Set pork chops in a glass dish.
Whisk together ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, ⅓ cup olive oil, 4 garlic cloves crushed, 1 tablespoon of rosemary leaves roughly chopped, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon of ground pepper.
Pour approximately 1 tablespoon of the whisked marinade on each pork chop, 4-6 tablespoons total for entire glass dish, reserving the rest of your sauce for later. Flip the meat over and rub it around, so both sides are covered. Let your meat set at room temperature while you finish the recipe. (This part can be made an hour and up to 4 hours ahead and refrigerated. Be sure to let meat come to room temperature before you start the cooking process.)
Preheat your oven to 425°.
Chop your potatoes, pears and onions as your oven preheats. Toss your fruits and vegetables with remaining marinade, making sure each piece is covered with the sauce, with clean hands rub the pieces with marinade. Finish off with more rosemary leaves or whole sprigs and lightly sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper across your entire dish.
Place your vegetables and fruit in the oven and set your timer for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Sprinkle your marinated pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides and place them in your hot skillet, scraping all marinade in as well. Let your chops fry for about 1½ minutes before flipping over. Fry again for a minute or two. You are just searing both sides.
Once both sides have been seared, open your oven and settle your pork chops, and any pan sauce, on top of your vegetables and continue to bake for remaining time.
At the 40 minute mark, pull out your pan and check readiness by piercing a potato to see if it's cooked all the way through and tender. Check your meat's temperature if you'd like as well. If it's at least 135° take it out and let your dish rest, it will continue to cook. If it needs more time, put it back in for another 5 and check again.
Note: If you want or need to simplify this recipe, you can skip marinating and pan-frying your pork chops. Just rub all pork chops, vegetables, and fruits (as seen in the picture below) with the entire batch of marinade. Salt and pepper the whole dish well and cook for 45 minutes, or until meat and potatoes are fully cooked. I prefer the extra step of marinating and searing the meat if I have prep time, but I like this next best option on nights when I need to throw something in the oven sooner than later.