I thought I’d share my all-time favorite brussels sprouts recipe with you. It’s a slightly extended version of the one I included in Super Natural Cooking, but to be honest, calling it a recipe is a bit of a stretch. It involves a skillet, less than five ingredients, about ten minutes of your time, and minimal culinary skills.
What makes this brussels sprout recipe special? It’s so simple. And you end up with vibrant green, tender brussels sprouts that become deeply golden and crusty where they touch the pan. I then lightly dust them with cheese and serve. This time of year it’s not unusual for us to cook them like this two or three times a week. Even if you’re a sprout skeptic, this golden-crusted version has the ability to turn the most vigilant brussels sprout loathers around.
Buying good ingredients
A couple shopping tips before you get started, look for brussels sprouts that are on the small size and tightly closed. The tiny ones cook through quickly. Larger ones tend to brown on the outside long before the insides are done. When the weather is mild, I finish them with a lighter, salty cheese, like Parmesan. If it’s stormy and cold, I opt for a heavier, more melty cheese, like a regular or smoked Gouda (or gruyere). Or(!), I’ll skip the cheese altogether, and add a simple finishing shower of chopped nuts.
Cooking Brussels Sprouts:
My main quick pro-tip? Try not to overcook the sprouts, and eat them as soon as they come off the stove if at all possible. They’re so great this way!
Many of you have made these over the years, and mentioned variations in the comments. I wanted to highlight a few!
Gina noted,”I made a riff on these tonight that you might enjoy too. I used butter in the pan instead of olive oil, and added about a teaspoon of horseradish at the end and tossed the sprouts in it with the heat off before I sprinkled with parm. I had a similar dish at Coppa in Boston once and have not stopped thinking about them.”
Rachel brought the turmeric angle, “added a little turmeric to my salt and pepper, which brought in a nice flavor as well as a subtle golden glow.”
And Jessa brings the citrus, “the only way I can eat them is roasted with toasted walnuts, and hit with some lemon juice, parmesan, and walnut oil right at the end. I also like zesting orange peel on them.”
I also love brussels sprouts in this caramelized tofu. This Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Apple recipe is also A+.
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Many of you were enthusiastic about the lentil soup recipe I posted a few weeks back. Today’s split pea soup recipe is similar in spirit. It’s a delicious, healthy, textured soup made from an impossibly short list of ingredients. Seriously, just five! No ham hocks in this version, simply green split peas and onions cooked until tender, partially pureed, seasoned and flared out with toppings.
Like many lentil soups, this one delivers many of the same nutritional benefits – a good amount of vegetable protein and plenty of staying power. It is hearty and filling, and even better reheated later in the day. You can find dried split green peas in many natural foods stores, I picked these up in the bin section at Whole Foods Market.
Split Pea Soup: Finishing Touches
I like to finish each bowl with a generous drizzle of golden olive oil, a few flecks of lemon zest, and a dusting of smoked paprika to give the soup some smoky depth. If you have scallions or toasted nuts on hand (pictured), great! Toss some on as well.
Hope you enjoy the soup, and for those of you who have never tried split peas, this might be the time to give them a go!
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You can make this. I promise. Even if you don’t think you’re much of a baker. It’s a golden crusted focaccia draped with whisper thin rounds of Meyer lemon, studded with black olives, and a showered with sliced almonds. The dough is herb-flecked with a generous boost of hemp seeds, and a percentage of rye flour if you happen to have some on hand. It’s the same one I posted to my Instagram feed, and It’s the one focaccia recipe you need!
The shot above is what the focaccia looks like prior to baking. I used an enameled cast-iron baking pan, but(!) you can absolutely make the focaccia free-form (just shape it on a standard baking sheet). A third option is a cast iron skillet. I baked the last version I did in a 9-inch cast iron skillet. Experiment and have fun with it!
I’ve been on a bit of a focaccia bender lately after making Nigel Slater’s Cranberry Focaccia for New Years Eve (from The Christmas Chronicles). I forgot how simple and satisfying it is to make, and all the different ways you can top it based on what you have around the kitchen. You can adapt the recipe with all sorts of alternate toppings! Have fun experimenting.
Choosing the Correct Yeast:
This recipe calls for instant yeast, and I’m including a shot of the exact yeast I used for reference below. You can add it directly to the dough. Different than active dry yeast.
If you make this, or a riff on it, tag me on Instagram (heidijswanson) so I can see :)!
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Let’s talk about tomato sauce. Last week in an airplane miles above the expansive plains of the mid-west, in the midst of a flurry of turbulence, it dawned on me that I’ve never shared with you my all-time favorite tomato sauce recipe. I’ve included the recipe in one form or another in both of my books, but I’ve never gone into depth here on the website about why it is the little black dress of my cooking repertoire.
How to Make a Simple and Bright Tomato Sauce
I realize many of you have romantic notions of what a good tomato sauce should be. And I realize it is going to be a tough sell on my part to get you to make a break with some of those hearty, meaty, long-simmering sauces. But, I’m going to encourage you to give this ringer of a tomato sauce recipe a shot. It comes together in five minutes flat, and the only chopping required is a few garlic cloves. It is bright and clean, a vibrant red in color, and exudes the essence of tomatoes, in part because there isn’t much to get in the way of the tomato flavor.
Video: How to Make Five Minute Tomato Sauce
A Short Ingredient List
Many of the tomato sauce recipes in this realm (in the U.S. in particular) include all sorts of ingredients. One camp likes to kick things off by browning onions and ground beef for a chunky stew-like sauce, others love to use carrots and celery and all manner of dusty dried herbs and seasonings. This recipe is going to be on the absolute other end of the spectrum – in all the best ways.
You wouldn’t wear a wool coat to the beach, right? That’s what heavy spaghetti and tomato sauces in warm weather feel like to me. This sauce is a relatively pure expression of tomatoes accented with a bit of edge from crushed red peppers, a hint of garlic, and my secret ingredient – a touch of lemon zest which brings its citrus aroma and a bit of surprise to the party.
So Many Different Uses!
The first time you make this sauce I recommend spooning it over light, fluffy pillows of ricotta-filled ravioli. Beyond that there are many other avenues to explore. It is transcendent in all manner of baked pastas and pasta-based casseroles (don’t skimp on the zest). Toss it with good-quality spaghetti noodles, a sprinkle of freshly chopped basil, and a dusting of Parmesan – you’ve got a beautiful bowl of noodles.
Beyond the pasta realm, I use it on thin-crust pizzas, in my thousand-layer lasagna, as the foundation for stuffed shells, as a base for soups, and as a way to pull together various “grain-bowls”. For example, quinoa tossed with a bit of this tomato sauce, your protein of choice, and accents like basil and a bit of cheese is simple and satisfying.
Pictured above on my favorite pizza dough, with some mozzarella, and fresh basil. Be sure to to pay attention to the type of crushed tomatoes to buy in the recipe headnotes. I hope you love this sauce as much as I do, and appreciate it for what it is more so than what it isn’t.
A bit richer. There are times when I’ll add a splash of cream at the very end, totally changing the character of the sauce – it becomes silky with a bit of richness, while still being bright, and without compromising the tomatoes in the lead role.
Sarah noted in the comments below, “Mmm, I love a nice quick San Marzano tomato sauce — mine’s very similar, though I also toss in a few capers or maybe some black olive paste if I have them on hand.” Love this take.
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I posted these mashed potatoes years ago, and hundreds of you have cooked them! But, seeing as mashed potato season is just around the corner, I thought I’d update the recipe with a few notes and suggestions. Buttery peaks and cloud-like potatoes are drizzled with a saffron garlic butter, and topped with a toasted almond, coriander, sesame sprinkle. Incredibly delicious. Simple, but with enough of a twist to make them special.
Best Type of Potato to Use
People really dig in with opinions about what type of potato is best when it comes to making mashed potatoes. I like the creamy texture most waxy “new” potatoes bring to the party. Yukon golds or yellow finns are my go-to. That said, many people use russet potatoes. Russets have a higher starch quantity, and can contribute to a beautiful, fluffy bowl of potatoes for sure. But my secret weapon is smaller, waxy potatoes. They’re so creamy, and lend a beautiful, naturally rich texture you can’t get otherwise.
Skin off or Skin on?
This is completely a personal preference. If you’re serving a crowd that appreciates a rustic mashed potato, by all means, leave the skins on. If your people like uniform billowing clouds of mashed potato, get out the peeler. I tend to bounce back and forth between the two.
The Secret Drizzle Magic
The thing that takes these mashed potatoes over the top is the special butter. It’s the simple combination of butter, garlic, saffron, and a pinch of salt. When you drizzle it over the potatoes, it smells incredible, and is the perfect way to finish your beautiful potatoes. As a last touch, a dusting of almonds and herbs brings an updated accent to classic mashed potatoes, but you can skip of you’re more old-school, and like your potatoes straight.
Mashed Potato Variations
I also love these Kale Mashed Potatoes from forever ago. And if you’re open-minded about a sweet potato variation – these Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes are in need of an updated photo (laugh/cry), but so good.
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This is a recipe for beautiful deviled eggs, but before we get to it, I’ll ask that you let me tell you about the last couple of days first. I know the eggs are distracting, I mean, look at them! If I could give you one right through the screen, I would.
But the setting we enjoyed them in was even better. This past weekend I saw coastal wildflowers blooming purple and yellow, misty morning vistas, colorful buoys and wave-whipped fishing boats. I saw a friendly covey of quail, flashy red-winged blackbirds, sleek, needle-nosed blue herons, and a single jack rabbit with ears tall and straight. There was crystallized honey the color of creamy butterscotch, and seals bobbing amidst the rocks at the surf line.
I was visiting friends in Bolinas – the perfect overnight. We had a tasty dinner of mostly leftovers, morning coffee by a fire. When it came time to fall asleep, it was so quiet compared to nights in San Francisco, all I could hear was my heart beating. These deviled eggs were part of our dinner spread. Leftover from Friday’s lunch, they made the trip north with me. Let’s talk about what makes them great. The main thing for me, is they’re classic, and updated at the same time.
Above is my leftover box packed for Bolinas – soup, eggs, Josey Baker Bread, various toppings and condiments.
How to Make Deviled Eggs
The concept is straight-forward, but there are a couple of pitfalls to avoid. The main thing, boil your eggs properly. This is so you don’t ended up with dreaded grey yolks. An ice bath after boiling is your friend here. Cool, peel, halve, make a beautiful filling from the yolks, and you’re on the home stretch.
The Best Filling
It’s all about getting the flavor and texture right here, and I use a little trick. The filling is mixed, mashed, and fluffed into a light herb-flecked dollop. Toasted almonds add the crunch, chive flowers bring the pretty. They’re not technically deviled, as there is no paprika or mustard in this version, but you can always tweak the filling to your liking with either.
I pulled over to look up the coast from the cliffs above Stinson Beach looking north. The morning grey had yet to clear. It’s such a beautiful spot! Consider making this twist on classic deviled eggs – they’re wonderful. Related, check here for other favorite egg recipes.
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We are entering what I consider peak bloody mary season. I love making them just as summer winds down, using heirloom tomatoes (after the initial thrill of tomato season wears off). Here you have a vibrant, bold, bloody mary made with fragrant herbs, yellow heirloom tomatoes, shallots, and a bit of kick from the vodka and serrano pepper. It’s the bloody mary I want to drink, and I suspect you’ll love it too!
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I can make a mean pizza, but it took me a while to learn how. Maybe I should rephrase that – I can make a mean pizza, but it took me a while to find the right teacher. For a long time I didn’t really know where to look for guidance – I just knew I wanted pizza the way I’d enjoyed it in Rome and Naples. The key is good pizza dough.
Best Pizza Dough Ever: Watch the Video
I was smart enough to know early on, if you have bad pizza dough, you’re destined to have bad pizza. Figuring out the dough factor was not as easy as you might think. As I got going, my oven gobbled up the fruits of many deflated attempts – a little yeast here, a lot of yeast there, this flour, that flour, knead by hand, knead by mixer, high baking temps, lower baking temps, and on and on.
Then I was given a hint. A gift, really. My friends and I would visit a favorite tiny pizza place in San Francisco quite often. We would go to eat, but also to try to absorb some of the good pizza karma flowing from their single-shelf, Baker’s Pride oven. A lot of time was spent there, not because we wanted to know their secrets really – but primarily because the food was so good. Hours would pass as we chatted over thin-crusted pizzas with slightly puffy, blistered edges. It became the crust I would try to emulate at home.
One day in the aforementioned pizza shop, I noticed a copy of Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice on a bookshelf near the prep area. It must have been recently published, and my curiosity was piqued. Sure enough, the book contained an interesting (and meticulous) description of how to make just the sort of pizza I was after. The dough Peter uses for his Napoletana pizza in this book is rooted in a delayed-fermentation method – different from the other techniques I’d tried up to that point. Game on.
Make Ahead Pizza Dough
If you like to wait until the last minute to make pizza dough, you are out of luck here. The key is the overnight fermentation. You end up with a golden, beautiful crust with the perfect amount of crunch and subtle yeasty undertones. If you try this recipe and like it, Peter also went on to write an entire book about the quest for the perfect pizza, fittingly titled, American Pie. It’s a great reference for those of you who really want to geek out on pizza.
Give Peter’s dough a try, and if you are interested in baking world exceptional breads, be sure to spend time with his book.
I’m going to leave you with the dough recipe. It’s up to you to play around with the toppings. The best advice I can give you is to take it easy on that front – a little goes a long way. My favorite is a simple pizza margherita made with this tomato sauce, a few torn up bocconcini cow’s milk mozzarella balls, and a few pinches of salt before placing the pizza in the oven. And, don’t forget the magic touches. When the pizza is hot from the oven, give it a quick dusting of freshly grated Parmesan, a tiny drizzle of artisan-quality virgin olive oil, and a sprinkling of basil cut into a chiffonade. Serve pronto!
As far as oven temperatures go – I have great results at 450F degrees WITH a pizza stone. Go buy a pizza stone immediately if you are serious about making great pizza at home. They are cheap and make a huge difference in your crust.
This is the stripped-down, adapted version of Peter’s Napoletana pizza dough recipe. If you want all his great side notes, tips, and back-history on the recipe, please pick up the book.
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I’ve thrown together a lot of tomato salads in my life. And certainly not all need to be highlighted here…That said, I made one over the weekend that is a bit offbeat, in a good way -a seasonal salad worth sharing. I think the magic happened when I decided to roast half of the tomatoes. The salad became a mix of beautiful heirlooms in shades of greens, reds, yellows, and orange, tossed with their roasted, caramelized counterparts. The roasted tomatoes brought depth to the salad – well worth the bit of extra time and effort.
Building on the tomatoes
Beyond the tomato base (use your best & make sure they’re ripe), I found myself pulling from ingredients around the kitchen. Capers, quickly pan-fried, added a mustardy pop. Crunch came from toasted almonds, and creamy fresh mozzarella delivered just the right amount of decadence. Fresh herbs added a bright finishing accent.
Tomato Salad Variations
Don’t let my version influence you too much. Play around! You can take the basic premise (a tomato salad made with a mix of ripe and roasted in-season tomatoes) in unlimited different directions. Try different nuts, herbs, and vinaigrettes. A version using this pesto is A+. Experiment with different tomato varietals and shapes.
It’s easy to prep nearly everything ahead of time here, and I have to tell you, this salad served on slabs of garlic-rubbed bread? Or partnered with oven-baked falafel tucked into warm pita bread? Best lunch I had all week.
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Because we’re still trying to put a dent in the zucchini supply, today’s recipe? Quick pickled zucchini. It’s great to have on hand, and allows you to flare out all sorts of things. We always take a jar camping, and a tangle is always great on a cheese plate or veg platter. They’re really good on cheese-slathered crostini or thin garlic bread, see the photo down below! This is the time of year to keep a steady supply at the ready, and bonus points for making extra for friends.
Quick pickled zucchini is A+ on these veggie burgers, on certain tacos, and as part of simple green summer salads. I also like them in place of relish on veggie dogs. If you come up with other ideas for them, let me know.
The only thing that takes much time here is draining some of the liquid from the zucchini, if you plan ahead a bit, the rest of the process only takes a couple minutes. One thing to be mindful of is how thick your slicing is. It’s the sort of detail that changes the preparation quite dramatically. You can see in the photos how thick I like my zucchini to be, but its a variable to play around with. Thicker slices will have more structure.
As far as flavor and seasoning go, this recipe delivers a bit of spicy bite from the mustard seeds and red chile, coupled with a hint of sweet, but not much. If you like a super-sweet pickle, double the sugar, and go from there. Same goes for the spiciness. Use this recipe as a jumping off point!
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