shaved brussels sprouts salad with wild rice + apples

shaved brussels sprouts salad with wild rice + apples | The Clever Carrot

One of the things that I love most about cooking, is that you never stop learning.

I freelance as a recipe developer which means I get to create and test out different recipes for clients. It’s hard, meticulous work that I find very interesting. Last year it was all about the brussels sprout. I tested what felt like hundreds of recipes, which seriously stunk out my kitchen. It was to the point that when I went out in public, I felt like there was a cloud of green stench wafting behind me (which there probably was). In any event, I learned a lot about these little green baubles…

My new favorite preparation is to shave them.

shaved brussels sprouts salad with wild rice + apples | The Clever Carrot

You can do this with a mandoline, but it’s a lot easier (and faster) if you shred them in a food processor. Some of the leaves will fall off whole, which looks nice in the finished dish as well.

I sauté the sprouts without coloring them too much, just enough to soften them a bit. From there, you can make all kinds of things; brussels sprout pasta with garlic, vegetable spring rolls, slaws, and even add to soups like minestrone. I chose to do a quasi-harvest salad with wild rice and apples. There’s leftover butternut squash in there too, but it’s not essential if you don’t have any (one less thing you have to cook, right?) It’s all about using up what you’ve got.

I serve this warm or at room temperature with a maple-bacon vinaigrette.

shaved brussels sprouts salad with wild rice + apples | The Clever Carrot

Tips:

  • You can shave the brussels sprouts ahead of time by storing them in an air-tight container. Place a paper towel on top to absorb any extra moisture.
  • If you have a lemon handy, squeeze some over the apple slices to prevent browning. If you are making this in advance, add the apples and vinaigrette right before serving.
shaved brussels sprouts salad with wild rice + apples
 
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Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
Salad
  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 c. cooked wild rice
  • 1 large apple (I used Macoun), thinly sliced*
  • ½ c. dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 c. cooked butternut squash (optional)
  • 1 lemon
Maple-bacon vinaigrette
  • 4 slices of bacon (I used Applewood smoked bacon)
  • 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup + more to taste
  • 1 heaped tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • salt & pepper
*If you have a lemon handy, squeeze some over the apple slices to prevent browning. If you are making this in advance, add the apples and vinaigrette right before serving.
Instructions
  1. For the rice: Cook the wild rice according to the package instructions. Spread out onto a rimmed baking tray to cool. Set aside.
  2. For the vinaigrette: Combine the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine. Slowly stream in the olive oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper, and add extra maple syrup to taste.
  3. For the salad: Using a small knife, trim away the ends of each brussels sprout. Any leaves that fall off whole (and are not bruised or damaged), set aside. Process the sprouts in a food processor fitted with the shredder blade. Set aside.
  4. In a large saute pan, warm a splash of olive oil over moderate heat. Dice the bacon into ½ inch pieces and saute until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Remove all of the bacon drippings from the pan, reserving 1 tablespoon for the brussels sprouts.
  5. Add the shredded sprouts, plus any whole leaves to the pan. Saute over medium-low heat until soft, yet not colored, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
  6. Add the shallots and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes or until everything is soft and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer the brussels sprouts to a large bowl.
  8. Add the rice, apple slices, cranberries and butternut squash (if using).
  9. Top with the reserved bacon.
  10. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to combine. Add additional vinaigrette and seasoning as needed.
  11. Server warm or at room temperature.
Notes
*You can prepare the shaved brussels sprouts ahead of time by storing them in an air-tight container. Place a paper towel on top to absorb any extra moisture.

roasted butternut squash with brown sugar bacon + some leftover inspiration

roasted butternut squash with brown sugar bacon | The Clever Carrot

I have a tendency to over do it when it comes to butternut squash.

No matter how I look at it (literally), I can never estimate how much I’m going to need. How many pounds in this thing again? So I grab a bunch and hope for the best. And what started out as an innocent pan roast turned into something more than I bargained for; 3 delicious meals.

The original plan was to roast the squash with lots of fragrant herbs like rosemary and sage. Love that combination with smoky bacon. If you can get your hands on some Applewood smoked bacon, go for it. Lashings of maple syrup and Dijon mustard followed, with a sprinkle of brown sugar on top. I served it alongside a roast pork tenderloin for my carnivorous boys.

roasted butternut squash with brown sugar bacon | The Clever Carrot

Our leftovers gave way to some freestyle creations. The first was a warm spinach salad served with our favorite dressing. We fought over the bacon…

roasted butternut squash with brown sugar bacon | The Clever Carrot

And then we made soup.

I pureed the leftover squash with chicken stock, reserving the bacon and sage leaves for garnish. You could also roast the seeds, as I did here, and top with yogurt or crème frâiche.

roasted butternut squash with brown sugar bacon | The Clever Carrot

I’ve only included the original roasted squash recipe as it’s the mothership for all three. The salad and soup are simply ideas that can be adapted to your liking based on how much you have leftover. Not bad for one pan, eh? Enjoy!

Tips:

  • The biggest mistake when roasting butternut squash is to overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding will cause the squash to steam rather than caramelize, thus creating extra moisture. To avoid this, use a very large roasting pan/tray and spread out the squash evenly in one single layer. None of the pieces should be touching, and ample space in between is ideal.
  • Peeling your butternut squash is optional (I skip it!) When roasted, the skin gets incredibly soft and is edible. It adds a nice textural element as well.
roasted butternut squash with brown sugar bacon + some leftover ideas
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 large butternut squash (about 4 cups)
  • 4-6 slices of bacon (depending on your preference)
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 heaped tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar, divided
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F.
  2. Cut the butternut squash into 1½ inch cubes (peeled or un-peeled). Reserve the seeds if you'd like to roast them.
  3. Stack the bacon slices on top of each other, and cut into 4 chunks. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl combine the maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and 1 tbsp. of brown sugar.
  5. Add the butternut squash to a large roasting pan. Make sure that the squash is spread out evenly, in one single layer. Do not overcrowd the pan. *See note below.
  6. Drizzle the squash with olive oil to coat.
  7. Pour the maple syrup mixture over the squash, and toss together with your hands. It may seem a bit dry, this is ok. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add the rosemary and sage sprigs.
  9. Separate the bacon slices and drape them over the squash.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp. of brown sugar on top of the bacon.
  11. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and begins to caramelize about 30-40 minutes.
  12. Heat under the broiler for a couple of seconds to crisp up the bacon. Make sure it doesn't burn!
  13. Serve warm.
Notes
*The biggest mistake when roasting butternut squash is to overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding will cause the squash to steam rather than caramelize, thus creating extra moisture. To avoid this, use a very large roasting pan/tray and spread out the squash evenly in one single layer. None of the pieces should be touching, and ample space in between is ideal.

dinner tonight: tortellini with spinach and tomatoes

tortellini with spinach and tomatoes | The Clever Carrot

I haven’t had tortellini in ages

My mom used to make it for me when I was a little kid. I used to stack them on my fingers like rings. I loved it. But as I grew older, I forgot about tortellini and I’m not really sure why. Luckily, we’ve become reacquainted.

While shopping in my favorite store, I overheard a man going on and on about how much his wife loved tortellini. She would serve it with sauteed greens and tomatoes for a quick meal. It was her lifesaver during busy weeknights.

Sold!

tortellini with spinach and tomatoes | The Clever Carrot

Back home at the stove, I tried to re-create this dish. I started off by frying some diced bacon for a nice, smoky flavor. To that, I added grape tomatoes (no need to cut) and cooked them until blistered. Then I folded in some baby spinach. By the time my tortellini were done, my ‘sauce’ was complete. I tossed it all together with shaved parmesan cheese.

tortellini with spinach and tomatoes | The Clever Carrot

From start to finish, this meal took only 20 minutes! It was inexpensive too. For 4 people, the total cost was $12. That’s only $3/person! And I live in NY by the way, where everything is expensive. Tortellini, you’re my hero.

*Try swapping out cheese tortellini for pesto or mushroom. Add a dollop of goat cheese for a decadent touch!

20 minute tortellini with spinach and tomatoes
 
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Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs. fresh cheese tortellini
  • 6 bacon slices, cut into ½" dice
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 2 c. whole grape (or cherry) tomatoes
  • 1x 16 oz bag baby spinach, washed and dried
  • parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt and add the tortellini. Cook according to the package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan (preferably 12") warm a splash of olive oil over moderate heat. If you do not have a pan this size, use 2 separate ones to avoid overcrowding and steaming.
  3. Add the diced bacon and saute until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
  4. Using a microplane, grate your garlic into the pan. Saute until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  5. Add the whole grape tomatoes (no need to cut). Cook until they are slightly blistered.
  6. Add the spinach. Gently toss with tongs until wilted, being careful not to break up the tomatoes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Drain the tortellini and toss together with the sauce. Add additional olive oil to coat. Top with the reserved bacon and shaved parmesan cheese.
  9. Serve immediately.