Do you get tired of the same old veggies or preparations and want a fun and interesting vegetable side dish? Lemony Brussels Sprouts make a perfect side dish for any day: 5:2 Fast Days (FDs) or feast days aka non-fast days. Brussels sprouts shine as a delicious and “meaty” side dish or even as a main course star. They’re as tasty with vegetarian pairings as they are meat proteins. They fairly scream, “Spring,” especially when brightened with lemon and fruity, extra virgin olive oil. Join Susie T. of Fast Days Healing Days for a quick cooking tip about blanching and receive a new and exciting vegetable side dish, to boot!
I’m a foodie. I readily confess this obsession to you, my friends. I love fussy recipes. I love easy recipes. I eat as much with my eyes, sense of smell and hearing as I do with my nose and mouth. Textures thrill me. I heartily engage all 5 senses when working with food. But I appreciate simplicity as much as I do complexity. And often, Occam’s razor is the best…or KISS (keep it simple sweetie).
Cooking with fresh herbs elevates simple and wholesome ingredients–and it helps me KISS. Growing herbs in pots is so simple even my brown-thumb can handle it, successfully. And it’s thrilling to walk out to the patio, snip a bit of this or that, and throw it into the latest meat or veg of the day. The flavors are fantastic and taste so different from dried herbs. And I save money, doing it! Most of my herbs are started right now, from seed. And in a few short weeks are big enough to allow harvesting as needed. If I bought the same amounts in a grocery or farmer’s market, I’d pay $2-3/bunch. Ouch! Fresh herbs make dishes taste new and exciting! And the simplest veggie prep gets made into a fresh perfection through their use.
But how do you bring out the flavor of vegetables? How do you make them tender without turning them into mush? Well that’s where blanching and shocking in ice water comes in. Sounds complicated…but it’s such an easy, reflexive step with practice. Blanching is simply the action of par-cooking (especially tougher veggies) foods in order to open them up for flavor and tenderness. Blanching is simple. Bring a pot of water to boil, throw in a generous palm of kosher or sea salt (no measuring needed) and throw in the cleaned vegetable. Depending on the veg it could take as little as 2 minutes, or as much as 7-8 minutes. Here’s a cool page of information about blanching, and types of blanching, along with common blanching times. (Just a word about asparagus: 2 minutes is the magic time for blanching asparagus—regardless of asparagus thickness.)
While the veggies blanch, pour a glass of ice cubes into a bowl of cold water. Poof! The water bath is ready to quench and quickly chill the veggies. Water baths help “set” veggies vibrant colors. And we’d all rather eat a veggie that’s tender but still has good texture (al dente), bright and beautiful color, one that’s had the cooking stopped before they go mushy, limp and grey—yuck!
Hope you will try out Lemony Brussels Sprouts. It’s an easy and exciting variation on a much-maligned vegetable–Brussels sprouts. You can blanch Brussels sprouts up to 2 days ahead—or at least the night before, to have them ready for a quick 2-3 minutes in a skillet with a splash of olive oil, garlic, fresh thyme and lemon with lemon zest. The lemon zest really adds a punch of intense lemon flavor without the tartness. The easiest way to zest is to use a fine grater called a microplane. I use microplanes for zesting citrus, grating ginger and garlic, finely grating hard cheeses, and grating chocolate.
Consider making Lemony Brussels Sprouts as a side dish with Shamalama Lamb Steak (aka Pan-Roasted of Grilled Lamb Steak) and maybe even a bit of roasted acorn or spaghetti squash. Check back soon the FDHD Meal Plans area for a meal plan featuring these great tasting and nutritious 5:2 Fast Day and intermittent ADF recipes.
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