Brussel Sprouts, Puy Lentil, Pancetta and Mustard

This week I am once again concentrating on those Christmas veg, namely brussel sprouts and parsnips, to make sure that you are not completely board of them before the big day even arrives. A word of warning though – there are lots of recipes out there suggesting you roast, char-grill or pan-fry your brussel sprouts. In my opinion do not trust them! Nothing beats lightly boiling them in salted water. It brings out the sweetness, whereas all the other methods seem to intensify the bitterness and cabbaginess.

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I concocted this Brussel Sprout, Puy Lentil, Pancetta and Mustard recipe to serve alongside some good sausages for dinner, but it was so good I recon you could do without the sausages and just eat it on its own.

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Brussel Sprouts, Puy Lentil, Pancetta and Mustard

Serves 2

100g Le Puy lentils, uncooked and rinsed

3 large handfuls of Brussels sprouts, stemmed and halved

90g slices thin-cut pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, cut into small strips

A splash of double cream

Extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cover the lentils with plenty of cold water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large frying pan, sautee the bacon in some olive oil until all the fat has rendered and the bacon is all crisp. Meanwhile, in a large pan of boiling salted water, cook the Brussel sprouts until to your liking. You know they are done when they taste good. Drain the Brussel sprouts and add to the bacon. Drain the lentils saving just a tiny bit of their cooking water and add to the Brussel sprouts. Return to the heat and cook just until everything is hot. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the mustard and stir through. Add a dash of cream, stir and serve straight away.

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Spicy Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burgers with Avocado

When I was an art student I was. quite predictably some may say, a vegetarian for a few years. I loved cooking at home huge stir-fries and lentil dishes which were cheap and filling. We had a couple of the first vegetarian cafes in Brighton as well but I have to admit, my favourite treat was a Spicy Bean Burger from Wimpy. In those days we even had an old fashioned eat-in Wimpy restaurant in Brighton, with waitress service, so you could make quite an outing of it.

I wanted to recreate my own, but I still have a glut of sweet potato so I decided to add them too. I used my adobo sauce from my Spicy Chipotle Maple Roast Sweet Potato and Brussel Sprout Grain Bowls in the mix and also made a Chipotle mayonnaise to go in my burger, balanced out with some cool, refreshing avocado and I dare say, it was probably a damn sight better than the Wimpy one I so fondly remember.

Spicy Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burgers 2

Spicy Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burgers with Avocado
Makes 4
500g / 2 sweet potatoes
350g drained black beans
1 red onion, finely diced
1 tbsp homemade Adobo sauce
1 small bunch fresh coriander, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
High quality vegetable oil or coconut oil
4 hamburger buns (optional)
2 avocados
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tsp homemade Adobo sauce
Polenta flour
Optional other fillings – lettuce, tomato etc

Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 200C. Slice the sweet potatoes down the centre lengthwise. Place the sweet potatoes cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until they yield to a gentle squeeze, 30 to 40 minutes or longer. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin (it should pull off easily).

Meanwhile fry the onion in a little oil until translucent. Add a big tablespoon of Adobo sauce and fry for a minute more. Add the black beans and salt to taste, and mash with a potato masher. Add the sweet potato and mix well.  Add the chopped coriander and check seasoning. You can now chill the mix or carry straight on, it is up to you. Shape the mix into 4 patties. You can use polenta flour to help if you like.

Pan fry the burgers: (If you chilled the mix, turn on your oven to 180C) Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy bottomed frying pan over medium heat. When it’s hot, place the burgers in the pan, leaving enough room to flip them. Cook for 4-5 minutes until browned on the bottom and flip. If your mix is cold, put the frying pan in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or so until hot all the way through. I you did not chill the mix, then just turn the hob heat right down and cook gently for 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile stir the mayonnaise in with the Adobo sauce and serve a big dollop on each burger.

(Toast the buns (optional): Place the buns on a baking sheet, cut sides up, and bake until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes)

Serve with your favourite fillings – avocado, lettuce, tomato etc

Roast Sweet Potatoes

Spicy Chipotle Maple Roast Sweet Potato and Brussel Sprout Grain Bowls

Do you know what a “Grain Bowl” is? No, neither did I. Turns out it is a quick and easy, one-dish meal, which contains one or a variety of grains. In England I guess this is just called “Lunch” but in America, where they simply have to invent a name for everything, they are very big as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet .

The basic idea is you pick a grain – brown rice, Freekeh, quinoa, Farro or couscous.

Add salad or leafy greens – anything from raw kale, spinach, rocket, radicchio or salad leaves. Not too much apparently, as then it is a salad and not a grain bowl!

Add cooked seasonal vegetables– roast beetroot, squash, sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli or Brussel sprouts for example.

Add protein – fish, chicken, beans, chickpeas, edamame or an egg, poached, fried or hard boiled.

Add dressing or a sauce – a basic vinaigrette or a themed dressing such as Asian, Moroccan or Thai. Use ingredients such as Harissa, curry pastes stirred into yogurt or mayonnaise, coconut milk, miso and lots of herbs and spices.

Add garnishes – toasted nuts, seeds, crumbled cheese, avocado, broad beans or crispy bacon.

So as you can see, the possibilities are endless. My fridge though is packed with sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts so this seemed a good place to start.

My choice of grain was cous cous although I am a great fan of Farro too. I am off quinoa ever since I discovered that it comes with a heavy environmental footprint. Due to the huge rise in demand, Bolivians can no longer afford to buy Quinoa, as its price is now so over inflated, and as a result they are starving. The demand has also resulted in decreased soil fertility and erosion due to over farming. I don’t know all the ins and outs, but quite frankly I can survive without it. For those who require a gluten free option, try the less popular, and therefore less destructive, Amaranth. But for now Quinoa, along with unsustainable Palm Oil, which is threatening the future of Orangutans, has joined my list of avoided products.

My sauce is based on the Spanish Adobo sauce. It turns up all over the Americas too, in various guises. I opted for a smoked Chipotle chilli, which is my favourite and ready available, and I was really pleased with the outcome. The combination of chilli, garlic, ginger and cumin is one that I use so often, that I know that I will be using this recipe all the time. In fact, I used it again this week in my Spicy Sweet Potato and Bean Burgers.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Maple Roast Brussel Sprouts

I have never tried roasting Brussel sprouts before. I never thought they would work, but I was wrong. The combination of the Brussel sprouts roast with sweet potato, maple syrup and my home made Adobo sauce was enough to convince me that I will be making this again too!

Finally, my garnish was Crispy Roast Chickpeas. They are an old favourite, though I have never used them in a grain bowl before. Up until now I just put them on a salad!

Adobe Sauce
4 or 5 Smoked Chipotle Chillies (soaked in water)
Large knob of ginger
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Peel the ginger by scrapping off the skin with a teaspoon, roughly chop and put together with all the other ingredients. Whiz up with a hand blender. Add a little water if necessary to get a smooth paste.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Maple Roast Brussel Sprout Grain Bowls 2

Spicy Chipotle Maple Roast Sweet Potato and Brussel Sprout Grain Bowls.
200g Brussel sprouts, stems trimmed and cut in half
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon Adobo sauce (more if you like it spicy)
½ small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 cms chunks
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil
100g whole wheat couscous
Wild Rocket

½ lemon
Extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp Mayonnaise (leave out for vegans)
1 tsp Adobo sauce

Preheat the oven 200C. Line a baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss the Brussel Sprouts and sweet potato with the maple syrup, Adobo, a little salt and pepper and coconut oil. (If you keep your coconut oil in the fridge like I do you might want to melt it in the microwave for a minute or two.) Spread on the sheet. You can add your chickpeas (see recipe below) at the same time. Check the veg and chickpeas regularly and move round the trays if necessary to ensure even cooking. The Brussel sprouts are done when they are turning golden brown and beginning to caramelise.

Meanwhile put your cous cous in a bowl with a little salt and olive oil. Mix well and cover with boiling water. Leave to sit for 15 minutes.

Make a dressing from the juice from the lemon, some olive oil and a pinch of salt. Whisk well. Dress your salad leaves with the lemon dressing and put in the bottom of your bowl. Fluff up your cous cous with a fork and add the roasted vegetables. Check seasoning and pile on top of the rocket, finally scatter the roasted chickpeas on top. Mix the mayonnaise with a little more Adobo sauce and let it down with water until you have the consistency of single cream. Drizzle over the salad.

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
I’m really love these with all sorts of seasoning but anything with chilli lends itself particularly well. Check out Seasoned Pioneers for some of their spice mixes such as Cajun or Creole Spice Blend, Thai Seasoning Blend, Fajita Seasoning or Baharat or Ras-el-Hanout but smoked paprika is good too.

One 15-ounce can chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Spice blend of your choice

Preheat oven to 200C.
Drain the can of chickpeas in a strainer and rinse with water for a few seconds to clean. Shake the strainer to rid of excess water. Lay paper towel on a baking sheet, and spread the chickpeas over. Use another paper towel to gently press and absorb the excess water. Roll around with the paper towel to also remove the thin skin where possible. Toss with olive oil and salt and roast for 25-35 minutes until the chickpeas are a deep golden brown and crispy. If they are not cooked enough they will go soggy but make sure that they do not burn. Season with spice blend whilst still warm.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Maple Roast Brussel Sprout Grain Bowls 3

Brussel Sprouts with Cashews, Chilli, Ginger, Soy and Sesame

Finally, for this week, another recipe from Simon’s Supper Club this week. I was worried that most people might be a little Brussel sprout weary after Christmas so I needed to think up something a bit dynamic. Luckily they lend themselves perfectly to Asian flavours so I knew this was a good place to start. I don’t think you can really stir-fry Brussel sprouts unless you shred them and I wasn’t prepared to shred enough Brussel sprouts for 52 people. So I compromised by just cutting them in half, but them cooking them for a while in the added soy and a splash of water, so that they are not unpleasantly crunchy and raw. It is quite difficult to perfect the cooking time when cooking on mass, but I am sure that you will be able to time them just perfectly, in smaller quantities at home. Teriyaki sauce is a nice addition for a touch of sweetness and you can get a gluten-free version, although I did not manage to find any in time last week for the nine gluten free customers, which is why I subsequently left it out.

Brussel Sprouts with Cashews, Chilli, Ginger, Soy and Sesame

Brussel Sprouts with Cashews, Chilli, Ginger, Soy and Sesame
Serves 4
400g Brussel Sprouts
100g toasted cashew nuts
2 tbsp. Soy sauce
Large knob of fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 fresh red chillies, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds

Trim the ends off the Brussel sprouts `- and cut them in half. Peel the ginger with a teaspoon and grate it, along with the garlic on a microplaner or good grater. Heat the coconut oil in a wok and add the Brussel sprouts. Fry for a few minutes, stirring constantly to get some colour on the sprouts before adding the ginger, garlic and chilli. Fry for a few minutes more before adding the soy. Use the liquid to help cook the sprouts to your liking. Add a splash of water if necessary. Add a little salt if necessary, depending on the saltiness of your soy and your taste. When cooked add the cashews and sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Brussel Sprouts with Cashews, Chilli, Ginger, Soy and Sesame 2

Parsnip, Brussel Sprout and Bacon Potato Cake

Finally, for this week, another one of my recipes from Riverford’s “Autumn and Winter Veg”. This is simply a basic Bubble and Squeak with a few extras thrown in. I always think it is better made with left over veg from Sunday lunch, than made to order, but it makes a great brunch either way. The combination of parsnips, Brussel sprouts and bacon is a particular favourite of mine, but you can throw in any cooked veg. If you have left over roast potatoes, you can use them instead of mash but you need to chop them up small and mush them up so your cakes stick together. I have even used up left over baked potatoes, scraping them out of their skins and mashing them up. Serve with a fried or poached egg and a couple of sausages would be nice too.

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Parsnip, Brussel Sprout and Bacon Potato Cake
Sometimes I add a teaspoon of mustard or horseradish sauce to the mix.
300-400g potatoes, peeled + cut into even sized pieces
200g Brussel sprouts, trimmed of the outer leaves
200g parsnips
8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
3 tbsp oil
salt + pepper
Fine polenta

Cook the potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain well and mash while still warm. (You need to keep your mash as dry as possible so that the cakes hold together.) While the potatoes are cooking, cook the Brussel sprouts in plenty of salted boiling water. Drain well. Cut in half if large. Peel and cut the parsnips into even pieces, toss with salt, freshly ground black pepper and some good olive oil. Roast in a hot oven until soft and beginning to caramelize. Allow to cool and roughly chop the parsnips. Cut the bacon into fine lardons and fry in a little oil until really crispy. Drain. (Keep the oil to fry the cakes.) Mix the vegetables together with the mash and bacon, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Mould the mixture into little cakes. You can use polenta flour to help them not stick.
Heat some oil in a large, preferably non-stick, frying pan and cook the cakes until they are golden brown on each side. Finish them in the oven until hot all the way through.

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