It hit me yesterday when I was chopping a jumbo bar of milk chocolate to mix into the batter for a chocolate chunk skillet cookie: this husband of mine is going to be the death of me. Here I am, a somewhat fit and slim twenty-something, keen on health and nutrition with a high priority on green vegetables, and yet his killer metabolism and penchant for multiple-milers is going to bust my belly. This kid eats and eats and still has a six-pack. Let’s just say I look at his plate and, well…I don’t have a six-pack.
Don’t get me wrong — I love him for many reasons, one of which is his appreciation for good veggies and healthful meals. But it’s rare that we have a meal without meat, and don’t even think I could pass off a salad for a main course on this guy. He needs his protein (*see above re: “multiple-milers”).
And thus begins the journey of having fun in my new kitchen with all of my cool, shiny gadgets, trying to show off for the hubby, and keeping us both fit and trim for the long haul. But he wants a little bit of dessert after almost every meal. And lots of protein. And he eats bread and chips and pretzels and cereal. I eat salad and beet-chickpea hummus, yogurt, sprouted toast. I can make a meal out of berries and seeds. And yet, how to marry our two culinary and sensory pursuits?
There are a few key points to this matter that I, after a whopping month of marriage, have discovered: 1) Find a middle ground. For us, this means moderation in all things, be it healthful juice fasts or decadent desserts. 2) Pick some winning ingredients that will always pull out a winning dish. I try to buy quality rather than quantity when it comes to ingredients in our house, that way a generous shaving of Parmesan or a couple strips of thick-cut smoked bacon will work for me. 3) Add a salad. If I’m feeling particularly in need of some green, and Andrew needs a hearty meat-and-potatoes fare when mere leaves just won’t do, a simple green salad is a perfect pleaser. I can have all of the veg I want, and he’ll always appreciate the roughage. 4) Make it a team effort. I love to hear his cravings and ideas for food pairings, as it sparks my creativity in the kitchen. Plus, it’s always fun to play teacher and/or make him play sous chef. The same goes for shopping, be it at the grocery store or the farmers market on the weekends. Everything is better together anyway.
Brussel Sprout Hash with Parmesan Quinoa
1 quart fresh brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices of thick-cut, smoked bacon (Mine is Arkansas bacon, from the butcher.)
a couple of new potatoes, sliced thin
a generous glug of olive oil, S+P
a handful of pecans, roughly chopped
a wedge of sharp, salty Parmesan
1 c. quinoa (or any other favorite grain) and 2 c. chicken broth and water, with a pinch of salt for good measure
Cook the quinoa as per usual: simmer in liquid until all is soaked up and golden. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan and begin caramelizing the onions until they are brown and a bit crispy on the edges. Chop uncooked bacon and add to the pan so it sizzles and smells wonderful. Add potatoes and garlic and allow the thin potato slices to caramelize as well. Scatter the trimmed and chopped brussel sprouts over the top of the whole thing to steam a bit while the caramelizing action continues. Stir everything together, season with salt and pepper, and continue to saute.
Season cooked quinoa with several shavings of Parmesan. Toss pecans into the skillet to warm and soak up the flavors from the brussel sprouts, and sprinkle that panful with Parmesan, too. There can never be too much, really. Serve brussel sprout hash over a bed of Parmesan quinoa.
Husband-approved. If you’re lucky, there will be leftovers. I wasn’t lucky, as he’d just come back from a three-miler. Look at that grin – already hungry.