When it comes to the crunch

3 types of crunch a citrus hit and explosions of umami
Traditionally for many people the bête noir of Christmas, the brussels sprout, holds a place in my heart. In defense this poor old much maligned brassica (Couve-de-bruxelas) it is usually the way it is cooked that makes people shy away. Treated with a bit of respect and a little imagination it can be the star of some quite delicious dishes. Come Christmas it is near impossible to find a Brussel sprout in the Algarve short of seeking out an English shop, soon to be a dying breed due to Brexit I expect. But come late January and February the vegetable markets are awash with these fascinating little cylindrical bundles.

Who knows how they grow? They grow on tall stalks akin to baby palm trees. I remember in the Uk as a child carrying them home from the farm shop as whole plants. Nowadays you see them separated from their stalks and either loose in boxes or bagged up plastic (arms thrown up in horror gesticulating despair). For my latest recipe I give you a brussels crunch salad. With an organised store cupboard you can make a lot of this in advance so its all ready to go in a matter of minutes when you need it.
Its textures are a game changer! Trust me. It’s loaded with flavour, and it’s pretty darnfilling too. I love it as a main meal, specifically lunch. You could serve it as a side and it would go a long way there too. My personal preference is to serve it warm, however it’s also wonderful cold. Leftovers are even more flavoursome from the

lemon vinaigrette, making this the ideal lunch of a lifetime.
Somehow the bitterness of the sprouts (the main bone of contention with the anti Brussels lobby ) miraculously all but vanishes. Who would have thought this amalgamation of flavours would produce something so splendid. I cant wait to make it again.... and again... and ... Can you tell I’m hooked?
It comes together pretty quickly too. It’s a great one to make if you have leftover grains, as the base is quinoa. If you don’t, you can make a small batch of quinoa in 15 minutes, so no biggie there. I had leftover pearl cous cous but you could use any other variety or

any other favourite grain, bulghur, pearl barley or quinoa.
There are three main types of couscous in varying degrees of availability: Moroccan
couscous, Israeli couscous (pictured above), and Lebanese couscous. 

  • Moroccan couscous is the smallest—about the size of semolina—and cooks in minutes.
  • Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous, is larger and resembles tiny pieces of pasta. It takes about 10 minutes to cook.
  • Lebanese couscous, also called Moghrabieh couscous, is larger than Israeli couscous and takes the longest to cook.
so hands up if you are ready for a healthy Brussels crunch salad?

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1 pound brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
kosher salt and pepper
⅓ cup marcona almonds, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

Make the lemon vinaigrette first. You can make this in advance and store it in the fridge, it will last a few days. You can also make it fresh. Shake it up before using.
I always have breadcrumbs stored but if you don´t make them next. Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to coat them in the butter. Toast for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are golden in colour and crunchy. Turn off the heat.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add in the brussels sprouts and garlic with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the brussels have softened slightly and are bright green in color. Stir in the cooked grian of your choice.
Transfer the brussels and quinoa to a large bowl. Drizzle with the lemon dressing and toss. Top with the marcona almonds, parmesan cheese and toasted breadcrumbs. Serve immediately while warm. Leftovers are good cold too!

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk while streaming in the olive oil. This dressing stays great in the fridge in a sealed container for a week or so, so feel free to make a double batch if desired! 


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