Mizuna with Tarragon and Capers

Mizuna is new to me. Fresh tarragon...oddly enough, pretty new to me too. Take the two of them together and you've got a new recipe for me and for you! I first came across mizuna when it arrived in my CSA box last week. I starred at it a bit quizzically because I've been on a bad "veggie identification" streak as of late. I've mistaken Jerusalem artichokes for ginger, watermelon radishes for rutabagas, rutabagas for turnips. Not great. At first I was thinking the mizuna was some sort of arugula. Turns out that wasn't too far off (albeit, still wrong), but arugula does have a slight peppery taste like arugula. Though in comparison, it has a much thicker stem and to steal a phrase from Serious Eats, the leaves are more "frond-like" in appearance.

mizuna with tarragon and capers || planting my roots

After some more digging, I learned that mizuna is native to Japan and considered a mustard green. It's typically pickled, but I've also found several recipes that call for it tossed in salads. The first time I dipped into my mizuna CSA stash, I simply sautéed it with salt and coconut oil, then tucked it underneath salmon . Inspiration struck as I piled my fork high with sautéed mizuna, plus the dijon and tarragon crusted salmon. In one bite, there were hints of bitter greens, some acidity from the dijon and sweet, anise-y tarragon. They balanced each other in such a wonderfully unexpected way, and thus, a new recipe was born. 

mizuna with tarragon and capers || planting my roots

Since mizuna struck me as a much lighter - almost feathery - green, I wanted to avoid weighing it down while sautéing with something like dijon. To replicate the brininess and acidity of the mustard, my brain went to capers. It may seem a bit strange to mix the sweet and salty flavors here, as both capers and tarragon have very distinct flavors, but they really do complement each other beautifully in this dish. Pairing with a side of salmon certainly doesn't hurt either!

I'm still learning my way around mizuna, but I like to think that hopefully this first attempt would make Samin Nosrat proud. I could almost hear her voice in my head repeating "Salt Fat Acid Heat" as I tried to pull through those elements. A pinch of kosher salt, a spoonful of coconut oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and hit of capers - sautéed over heat to perfection. Salt, fat, acid and heat. We've got the whole gang here!

mizuna with tarragon and capers || planting my roots
mizuna with tarragon and capers || planting my roots

Mizuna with Tarragon and Capers

serves 2

what you'll need:
1 bunch mizuna (about 8 oz), roughly chopped
1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
kosher salt, to taste
juice from 1/4 - 1/2 of a fresh lemon

what you'll do:

  1. Heat coconut oil in medium frying pan for one minute over medium heat. Add in minced garlic, stirring frequently for about one minute. Be careful not to burn garlic. 
  2. Add mizuna to frying pan, stirring frequently to coat greens with garlic and oil. Reduce heat to low and sauté for about 4 minutes, or until greens begin to wilt. 
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in capers and chopped tarragon. Add pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon to taste. Serve immediately. 

brussels sprouts, meet cacio e pepe

when it comes to thanksgiving, i'm the point person on brussels sprouts. i've never deviated from my pan-fried sprouts with parm, balsamic glaze and garlic, but come november, i may be mixing it up thanks to this cheesy, garlicy, peppery brussels sprouts recipe. 

does your family have a routine when it comes to your thanksgiving meal? who brings the pies; who is responsible for carving the turkey? in my family, we're pretty flexible as to who cooks what (exception being aforementioned brussels sprouts, our TWO versions of stuffing and green bean casserole). we all know our way around the kitchen, so we're lucky to have a lot of helping hands in between macy's day commercial breaks and many cups of coffee. 

cacio e pepe brussels sprouts || planting my roots

my overseeing of the brussels sprouts all started way back - man, almost seven (???) years ago when i tried a recipe for them at thanksgiving. i don't recall where the recipe came from, but by now i know it like the back of my hand and have served it at many a family dinner. i guess it was beginner's luck that the first time i ever served theses sprouts was definitely the best i've ever made them. i set the standards too high... the dish itself was simply pan fried brussels sprouts, which you cook on the stove top until golden brown with olive oil. then in a separate bowl, you toss liberally with balsamic glaze and parmesan cheese. it's one of those tried-and-true recipes that i'm willing to bet could turn anyone into a brussels sprouts fan. 

for this recipe though, i wanted to try something beyond tried-and-true. i suppose it's somewhat ironic then that i turned to an ultimate comfort food for inspiration and gave these brussels sprouts the cacio e pepe treatment. translating to "cheese and pepper," it's not too hard to see where i went with these...

cacio e pepe brussels sprouts || planting my roots
cacio e pepe brussels sprouts || planting my roots

with only five ingredients, these cacio e pepe brussels sprouts are simple, stunning and a show stopper. the same can be said of cacio e pepe, which traditionally is a beautifully basic pasta dish of black pepper, parmesan cheese, pasta, salt and olive oil. i highly recommend with a glass of red wine or two.

the trick to brussels sprouts is to make sure you place on an already very hot baking sheet. that will help them get that rich, golden color. the extra coating of parmesan cheese and olive oil doesn't hurt either...this year, thanksgiving may be a whole new brussels sprouts ball game. 


cacio e pepe brussels sprouts

serves 4

what you'll need:
1 pound brussels sprouts, sliced in half
3 tbps extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp black pepper, plus a few pinches extra for serving
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus 2-3 tbsp for serving

what you'll do:

  1. preheat oven to 375° fahrenheit. place an aluminum foil lined baking sheet in oven as it preheats.
  2. place brussels sprouts in large bowl. add in extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and finely grated parmesan cheese. toss until sprouts are evenly coated with cheese.
  3. carefully remove baking sheet from oven and quickly place parmesan coated brussels sprouts on sheet, flat side facing down. place back in oven and roast for 20 minutes. remove from oven and let rest for 5-6 minutes.
  4. in large bowl, toss roasted brussels sprouts with extra parmesan and black pepper to taste. serve immediately.