But when I checked the name of the package and it says, "Chris", that always gets me a bit excited. And when there's a label on the box that says OXO ... well that's REALLY cool! It means that it might just be new kitchen toys for me to play with!
That's the kind of package I received several weeks ago. I had put my name in the hat to be part of a culinary challenge sponsored by OXO and Plated; The Very Vegetarian Recipe Challenge. I was happy to be chosen as one of the participants. We were all given the same OXO tools to use to create a brand new recipe. When mine arrived, I quickly tore open the box (my husband says I open boxes like "a wild animal". I'm trying to be better ... but not when it's a box from OXO!).
My culinary wheels starting whirrrrrrrring! I thought of all sorts of ways to use the different tools; but in end, I decided on a delicious seasonal salad - a Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette. I love shaved Brussels sprouts, but usually purchase them in a bag all sliced up. Why? Because, honestly, it's quite a pain to paper-thinly slice the little green cabbages. I'm kind of bad about cutting myself too when I'm doing such detailed, tedious slicing.
I won't be needing to purchase the expensive bags of Brussels sprouts any more.. I used the OXO Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer and I was done shaving the 20 sprouts for my salad in the blink of an eye! It's very compact, for easy storage and has three adjustments for slice width. It also comes with a safety shield, which holds the food in place while you slice. No bandaids on these fingers as I type away today!
I used the 9-inch Whisk to make my salad dressing. It was perfect for stirring everything together and for adding the oils. It's got a comfy handle and is a bit smaller than all my other whisks. It worked great, fitting perfectly in the small pan I used to reduce the cider, and there was less splashing than a larger whisk would create.
Oh, and just a bit about this delicious salad. I honestly could eat it every day ... well to be really honest, I kind of have been doing that ... I had it for lunch both yesterday and today and for dinner last night. I have a sneaking suspicion that some version of it will find its' way into our evening meal tonight too. It's a perfect combination of flavors, texture and healthy ingredients. This marvelous salad is fresh and pretty, with fun ribbons of shaved Brussels sprouts, crisp, diced red apple and tangy blue cheese. The crunchy, buttery whole-grain croutons, with just a touch of sweet honey and cinnamon, add a bit of heartiness and complement the other ingredients.
The dressing comes together quickly. It's sweet, tangy and so good you might just be tempted to drink it right from the jar! The sweetness comes naturally (no sugar or artificial sweeteners) from apple cider which is reduced till it's bursting with fabulous apple flavor. A clove of minced garlic, a squeeze of Dijon and a splash of apple cider vinegar are added before olive oil is slowly drizzled in.
Put it all together and you've got a winner. Oh, and if your family/friends/kids think they don't like Brussels sprouts ... well, you might not want to hold off telling them what the pretty green ribbons of deliciousness are. Wait till they start raving about the salad, then you can share the secret!
- 2 slices whole grain bread crusts removed and cut into ½ inch dice
- 2 teaspoons butter melted
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup apple cider or apple juice
- 1 small clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 20 fairly large Brussels sprouts
- 1 small red Delicious apple cored and cut in ¼ inch dice
- 2-3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
Preheat oven to 325˚ F. Line a small baking tray with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine butter, honey and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Stir to combine and add bread cubes. Toss gently and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Spread apart to form a single layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and crisp, stirring every 5 minutes.
Place cider in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes or until slightly syrupy and reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Be careful to keep and eye on it so that it does not reduce down too much. Add mustard, minced garlic and vinegar, whisk to combine. Add olive oil in a slow steady stream, whisking continuously. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired.
While cider is reducing, prepare salad. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, slice Brussels sprouts into thin slices, separating the slices into ribbons. Discard solid cores, if desired. (I actually like the cores. They are sliced so thin, to me, they just add a nice bit of crunch.)
To assemble salads, divide Brussels sprout ribbons between two serving plates. Top with diced apples and crumbled blue cheese. Drizzle lightly with Cider Dressing and top with Whole-Grain Honey Croutons. Pass extra dressing at the table.