Brussels Sprouts with Puy Lentils and Walnuts

Brussels with Puy Lentils and Walnuts

Freya and I were discussing our eating strategy for work yesterday. Sounds complex but it isn’t really.

When I started this blog we lived in the middle of nowhere and going out was too much effort – so we just stayed in – watched box sets – and cooked every day – which meant we had ‘lunch’ for work the next day in the form of leftovers (or something made specifically for lunch).

Since autumn last year this changed. We go out at least 4 times a week and often don’t eat at home. Tuesdays we go dancing until late – and Thursdays we have film Club at work. Consequently we had no food and ended up in the awful situation yesterday of having to go out in the freezing cold for lunch that we didn’t really want – and waiting ages for it as well. On top of that it always costs us £10 or more for the privilege and we lose an hour of our day (at least).

So last night I resolved that we would always have something for lunch by being better prepared – and this is where this dish came from – made whilst watching Broadchurch Season 2 Episode 3 last night. Broadchurch is far more ‘soap-opera-extreme’ this season – it’s very intense!

Anyway – back to the food. This dish is as easy as (and very similar to) the Broccoli and Beans that I made for dinner yesterday – and is from the same ‘River Cottage Light and Easy’ cookbook by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.

Simply roast some brussels sprouts with a little oil and seasoning until they start to char a bit and look done. While they are cooking prepare some Puy lentils. I cheated with a ready made sachet from ‘Merchant Gourmet’ – not through laziness – more through my local Morrisons not having anything else.

Then made a dressing (again very similar to the Broccoli dish) of oil, garlic, mustard, lemon juice (no egg yolk this time) an pour it over the lentils. Finally mix the lentil mix with the brussels and stir through some chopped walnuts.

Couldn’t be easier. We ate it at room temperature (as recommended in the book) and it tastes yummy. It got a few jealous looks while we ate it at work. And a few bemused looks from those that had never seen those ingredients combined like that before.

One of the sad things about cooking late at night on a poorly lit boat is the standard of food photography. I’ll seek to improve this somehow!

Brussel’s Sprout Risotto

Brussels Sprout Risotto

I’ve made this twice now. And I know I will just keep making it. It’s quick, easy, tasty and I always have the ingredients to hand. On top of that it makes lots so there are always leftovers for work the next day!

Tell someone you are making Brussels Sprout Risotto and they are sure to turn their nose up at you. Freya’s brother did. I could see his mind whirring at how he needed an excuse to leave so he could pop into McDonalds and get some real food! But trust me this is worth it.

The Brussels that Ottolenghi has in the pictures in Plenty More look stunning. Straight off the stalks with lots of purples and dark green colours running through them. I had to settle for the boring light green pretrimmed variety from the supermarket. I’ll try and hunt down the colourful ones nearer Christmas; I think the dish will look super special with more vibrant colours.

You make the risotto by frying some onions in butter and oil and then adding lemon, garlic and thyme. While that is caramelising, shred your Brussel Sprouts.

I must admit I made it wrong this time. You’re supposed to shred about half the sprouts and quarter the other half but I wasn’t paying too much attention and added all the sprouts and the rice to the onions at this stage.

The idea is you pan fry the quartered Brussel Sprouts in hot oil until they are golden and crispy and add them as a topping at the end. I’ll try and remember this for next time!

You now make the risotto as you would any other risotto; add wine and let it absorb and then gradually add stock while stirring often. When the stock is all used up the rice should be cooked but still have some bite.

Right at the end add Parmesan, Dolcelatte, tarragon and some grated lemon zest. if you followed the recipe properly, add the pan fried Brussels on top and serve.

It’s just as good with all the Brussels incorporated it just doesn’t look as striking – and it removed a crunchy texture that could have made the dish even more special.

This risotto is so creamy and is really tasty – especially with the additional lemon zest that I added.

There was so much of this left over that we had it for lunch the next day. I don’t think we were especially popular in the office later that day. Two Brussel’s Sprout meals in a row!

Brussel Sprouts and Tofu

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I sometimes wonder about my choices. Freekeh (high in fibre), Garlic soup and now Brussels Sprouts! I guess I’m not doing myself any favours!

That said – Freya thinks this is the best thing I’ve made from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty.

I couldn’t decide whether to use the pan picture or the bowl picture – so here’s the other one

Brussel Sprouts with Tofu

Tofu is a tricky ingredient. Whenever you see a tofu recipe you really should consider leaving it in the marinade you make for 24 hours. Leaving it for 30 minutes while you do the rest of the preparation for a dish just isn’t long enough for the tofu to take on the marinade’s flavours. Tofu is ingredibly bland if you don’t do something to it, so that’s my recommendation.

The marinade for this tofu was sweet chilli sauce, soy, sesame oil, maple syrup and rice vinegar. Leaving the tofu for a while really made a difference.

Apart from the tofu preparation this is a very easy recipe; just pan fry some brussels, spring onions and red chilli, add shitake mushrooms and right at the end, carefully char the tofu and add to the brussels.

You dress the dish with coriander and sesame seeds.

This is so tasty. And because you only pan fry the brussels for maybe a minute or two on a high heat, they stay very crunchy but look lovely and glossy – coated in the oil. There was a time when brussels were for Christmas and nothing else. Now they are good any time of the year – and in a recipe like this they are perfect.

I think you could probably substitute brussels for kale as long as you cooked it the same. Something I might try later in the week!

There was plenty of this for us to take for lunch the next day – but we got greedy. So we ate it all and ended up having to go out for lunch the next day. Very confusing for the people at work that just expect to see exciting food each day!

Definitely a keeper this one – just remember to marinade the tofu for longer than it says!