Upon our friend Leandro’s recommendation, Juan and I have been watching the Netflix documentary Chef’s Table, where each episode profiles a world-renowned chef.
Dan’s philosophy is simple – he aims to use everything that a farm can give to create food that enhances the natural flavors of its ingredients. In order to help us better understand Dan, the revered American food writer and chef Ruth Reichl gave the example that Dan strove to do things like “bring out the carrotness of a carrot”, in order to demonstrate how Dan worked with the food he had.
Long after the episode had ended, I kept thinking about Dan and his cooking philosophy. My mind kept returning to what Dan had said about keeping his plates uncomplicated so as not to distract from the highlights of the dishes – the ingredients themselves.
I heard him say over and over again that the American diet today is essentially an abundance of low-quality ingredients, and that we should really be focusing on improving the quality of the food that we eat (through improving the entire farm in itself), because if “you are what you eat”, as Michael Pollan states, then it naturally goes to say that “you are what you eat eats”.
It simply made completely logical sense to me.
Dan continually emphasized the concept of sustainable food, and we saw how he consciously uses local and seasonal ingredients in planning his menu at his Greenwich, New York-based restaurant.
Mainly, Dan stressed that ecological and sustainable farm systems produce the best-tasting foods, and he was shown often encouraging farmers to “breed for flavor”, as opposed to breeding with the sole purpose of increasing the bottom line.
It made me think about the types of dishes that could best show off the flavors and true form of the produce that we bring into our kitchens, and eventually feed to our bodies.
I believe it’s true that when a recipe gets overly complicated, it’s easy to lose the essence of the ingredients and their original tastes.
Today’s recipe is one that is extremely simple, but whose very simplicity pays homage to the few ingredients used – brussels sprouts, lemon and parmesan cheese – and allows their flavors to really shine.
You begin by slicing the washed brussels sprouts as thin as you possibly can, then sauté them with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in a squeeze of lemon juice grated parmesan cheese, then mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.
In just under 30 minutes, you get a side dish that’s full of flavor – the citrus lemon balances out the natural bitterness of brussels sprouts, all rounded up with grated parmesan cheese that makes this healthy dish feel just a little more luxurious.
I think this makes a wonderful side dish for any dinner party – think Thanksgiving and Christmas – given that the holidays are coming up. But I know that you can always make this to compliment a main for your weeknight dinner.
Either way, this is food that you can feel good about feeding your family and friends.
So go ahead, serve it up generously, and enjoy!
- 20 oz. of brussels sprouts, sliced as thinly as possible
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and sauté shaved brussels sprouts over medium-high heat until they are slightly soft but still bright green in color
- Squeeze in lemon juice and mix well before sprinkling grated parmesan cheese over.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.