15-Minute Meal: Soba with Parmesan and Pan Fried Brussels Sprouts

Many recipes claim to be quick and easy, but few live up to expectations.

With the craziness of the holiday season, I’ve been wanting–and needing—quick-to-pull-together lunches. Given the choice, I prefer not to have cold lunches so sandwiches or salads are out. In the end, I usually have leftovers or cook something easy.

When Stephanie Stiavetti sent me her just-released cookbook co-authored with Garrett McCord, Melt—The Art of Macaroni and Cheese (Little, Brown & Company, November, 2013), I was blown away by the gorgeous photography and creative mac and cheese combinations.

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While flipping through the book, I came across a recipe that called for soba, Brussels sprouts and parmesan. It sounds like an odd combo, but if you’re an eclectic cook like me, you probably have these ingredients sitting right in your pantry. The recipe was oh-so brief and simple; I was sold!

I did tweak the recipe a little, using frozen Brussels sprouts instead of fresh ones and the dish came together in barely 15 minutes. Now the true test—did it taste good? Given its simplicity, I was astonished at how tasty it was—the bittersweet sprouts played very nicely with the salty Parmesan and the chewy soba bundled the flavors together well.

This recipe is a winner on so many levels: it satisfies, uses few, easily available ingredients, and is indeed a 15-minute meal.

For more info about Melt, please visit Stephanie’s blog: theculinarylife.com or check out their book trailer here. It’s perfect for the cheese-lover on your Christmas list!

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Soba with Parmesan and Pan Fried Brussels Sprouts

Adapted from Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese by Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord

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The original recipe uses fresh Brussels sprouts but I had frozen ones in the freezer. They added to the brevity of cooking time. If you do use fresh, be sure to remove the stems and outer leaves. Halve them and blanche them for quicker cooking. Wholewheat spaghetti would be an excellent substitute for the soba.

Makes: 2 entree servings
Time: 15 minutes

8 ounces frozen petite Brussels sprouts (about 20)
2 bundles soba (about 6-8 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fine sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
Chili flakes (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
Finely grated Parmesan

Thaw/cook the Brussels sprouts in the microwave on high for about 4 minutes. Drain excess water.

Meanwhile, prepare the soba per the manufacturer’s instructions. Once they are cooked, immediately drain and rinse under cool water for a moment, drain again, and then toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Do this regardless of what the noodle instructions say at that point, as some may instruct you not to add oil. Set aside.

Place the remaining tablepoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the Brussels sprouts. Season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts start to turn golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Toss the soba in the hot pan for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and add an extra glug of oil, if you desire. Plate and shower liberally with Parmesan. Serve immediately.

**Disclaimer: Melt was gifted to me by Stephanie Stiavetti but I think this is a great recipe and it’s a great book!**

Eggy Stir-Fried Cabbage

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I’ve been eating this dish for as long as I can remember. My mum made it, my aunts made it and now I make it–it’s so simple I can churn it out in 10 minutes. I definitely consider it a comfort food. More often than not, I’ll just pile a mound of crunchy sweet greens strewn with eggy bits over rice for a simple meal. At dinner, it makes a great side dish served with meat and rice. This method works with nappa cabbage and bok choy too but cook the ribs for about two minutes first before adding the leaves. You can add some tiny shrimp after the garlic is done for a little “meat.”

Makes: 2 servings as a single dish with rice or 4 as a side dish

1/2 head medium cabbage, cored and cut into shreds
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons canola oil

2 eggs
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or soy sauce if you prefer)
1/8 teaspoon white pepper powder
Salt to taste

In a wok or large skillet, stir fry garlic in oil over medium heat until fragrant and golden brown. About 2 minutes.

Add cabbage. Turn up heat to medium high and stir fry until cabbage turns bright green and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Keep things moving in the wok.

Turn down heat to low. Make a well in the center of the wok by moving cabbage to the edges. Crack eggs into the well.

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Stir eggs with spatula until yolks are broken, trying to keep cabbage out of egg mixture. Let eggs cook for about 2 minutes until almost set but still a little runny (like soggy scrambled eggs).

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Turn up heat to medium. Mix up entire contents of wok. Add two tablespoons water, fish sauce, white pepper and salt. Keep stir-frying for another minute. Take off the stove and serve immediately.