The P-word has always been a word I have had difficulty thinking about in my mind as it involves so much time and effort. I have to work really hard to remind myself of the significance of Pesach and the incredible time it is to cleanse oneself spiritually and to release oneself from the “slavery” of every day life to be able to enter a higher spiritual realm. It truly is such a powerful and meaningful time, and it is so important not to get caught up in all the work – cleaning, shopping, cooking etc. but to take a few moments and reflect on the ways in which you are a “slave” to things in your life, and how you can release yourself from this situation. For me, the cooking part is always fun, and it provides me the hours I need to reflect and contemplate my life.
Brussel Sprouts and Roasted Butternut Salad
As I was thinking of Pesach I though too how it is known as the Festival of Spring, Chag Ha’Aviv, and I though that this year as I prepare my food, I really want it to capture the feeling of spring. In addition, I want the food to be as healthy as possible, as I feel we eat so much more on Pesach. Somehow, although we eat huge meals, one is hungry just a few hours later. So, I thought if we could add some fresh salads to our menu, they would bring with them some feelings of spring and also the healthful aspect to the meal that I feel is so important.
A few months ago I tasted a brussel sprouts salad with nuts and blue cheese. It was delicious. This was somewhat of a surprise to me, as, I have to admit, growing up, the only vegetable that I really did not like was brussel sprouts. I think my Mom, ob”m, used to boil the sprouts and I really did not like them, but then a friend once served them roasted as part of a roasted vegetable dish, and they were delicious. Brusssel sprouts are a good source of protein, iron and potassium, and they are also major anti-oxidants due to the fact that they are one of the cruciferous vegetables, the ones that provide us with cancer protective substances. In addition brussel sprouts are also a good source of fiber and vitamin A and C.
Remembering this and learning that brussel sprouts are one of the top 10 foods you should eat on a daily basis I decided to try something new and create my own Parev brussel sprouts salad, using shaved sprouts for their rich green, Spring-like color and combining it with the bright orange and slightly sweet flavor of butternut.. I think this salad recipe would be great to make any time over Pesach, and what is so nice about it is that it needs to sit in the dressing a while to sort of “marinade”. This allows you to prepare it in advance, and just before serving to put it out on the serving platter. It is also colorful and attractive and would look good adorning any seder table.
Brussel Sprouts and Roasted Butternut Salad
1 lb. (500g.) shaved brussel sprouts
1 lb. (500 g.) butternut peeled and cubed
3/4 cup unsalted cashew nuts
1-2 Tbs. Olive oil
1 Tbs. sugar and cinnamon
- Place the cashews on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake at 400° F for approximately 5 to 7 minutes . Be sure to turn the nuts regularly and keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn.
- Remove the nuts and place in a bowl to cool.
- Place the butternut cubes on same foil. Sprinkle the 2 Tbs. olive oil over the butternut and sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar on top. Bake at 400°F for 20 -25 minutes or until butternut is caramelized and crispy. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Place brussel sprouts in a mixing bowl.
- Once cool, put the butternut and nuts on top of brussel sprouts
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar glaze *
2 – 3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt
10 grinds of fresh black pepper
* To make the balsamic glaze, pour a half cup balsamic vinegar into a pot. Slowly heat it and allow it to cook until the balsamic vinegar begins to thicken and caramelize. Be careful not to over cook it, it needs to be viscous, but still liquid.
Whisk all ingredients together. Taste and see if you need more lemon juice, honey or salt.
Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Allow salad to “marinade” with dressing for at least an hour, can be more. To serve, place a serving platter over the mixing bowl, hold it down firmly and flip the plate and bowl over so that the salad forms a dome on the platter.
AND ….. the FINAL PRODUCT!