Feb 27 2013

Lunchtime Flexibility

The ease I referenced in my last post has stayed with me in the kitchen this week. I had to chuckle yesterday afternoon, as I found myself juggling multiple projects, all destined for different purposes: roasting potatoes, sautéing winter greens, candying pistachios, and making vegetable stock.

As it turns out, cooking with flexibility has reminded me of plunging into a chilly pool: despite the initial shock, I know I'll adjust if I just keep on moving and stay confident in my swimming ability (as choppy as my stroke may be).

This particular lunch developed from my new go-with-it attitude. In the fridge, I had unroasted brussels sprouts, chicory, and a grapefruit. In less than 30 minutes, I prepared a brussels sprout pasta and a chicory salad. I mimicked Alice Waters' method of prepping the sprouts, separating the sprout leaves from their small spine; all lumped together they looked like a heap of freshly fallen leaves from a tiny tree. I remembered Harry had posted a salad recommendation for his chicory on the Mudjoy Farm website, so while the pasta was boiling, I gathered the necessary ingredients, transforming the grapefruit and chicory into a sweet and slightly bitter salad in less than 10 minutes.

While the pasta was boiling gently, I sautéed a red onion, the sprouts, and garlic. Once the sprouts' edges turned brown and a bit crisp, I finished with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Then I simply tossed this medley with the still hot pasta (and some pasta water), fashioning a meal that managed to be light enough for lunch (no afternoon nap here!) but big on flavor.

Winter Chicory Salad

Recipe Source: MudJoy Farm


  • One head of chicory
  • Ice Water
  • Grapefruit or other citrus
  • Olive or grapeseed oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • One half medium onion
  • Salt and fresh pepper


  1. Cut the chicory in thin strips and soak in ice water until bitterness is decreased to one’s taste.
  2. While the chicory is soaking, cut a grapefruit in half and remove the wedges of grapefruit with a small spoon. Put the wedges in medium bowl.
  3. Add 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp of oil to the grapefruit wedges. Stir and set aside.
  4. Cut the onion into thin rings. Drain the chicory and toss with the onion slices and the grapefruit dressing. Finish with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Brussels Sprouts Pasta

Recipe Source: Chez Panisse Vegetables


  • 15-20 Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 small Red Onion
  • 1 lb Orrechiette
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • Lemon Juice
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Separate the brussels sprouts leaves. If you can't separate the leaves, thinly slice the hearts. Thinly slice a red onion and chop the garlic cloves.
  2. Start cooking the pasta. After adding the pasta to the boiling water, heat a sauté pan. Add olive oil, then the sprout leaves; salt and pepper them, and sauté for 1 minute over very high heat.
  3. Add the sliced onion and a pinch of red pepper flakes, and sauté until the sprouts are tender and a bit brown, 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the garlic, and toss.
  4. Squeeze some lemon juice on the sprouts. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauté pan. Gently combine the ingredients.
  5. Adjust seasoning as necessary and serve drizzled with olive oil. You can add either breadcrumbs or a few pieces of shaved Parmesan, if you desire.