BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches & Maple Walnut Brussels Slaw

(Long post incoming, but I promise the recipes are worth it!)

Week four already! Is October going by crazy fast for anyone else? After spending the first half of month in Europe I am now in Iowa for work and boy is my body confused. Here’s hoping my sleep and my stomach get back on track soon.

This week is entree week. Pulled pork is one of my absolute favorite meals and Pinterest piqued my curiosity of substituting jackfruit for the meat. I’ve seen it multiple times over the last few years but never actually got around to trying it. This menu was the perfect opportunity to give it a shot since it nicely fits the theme and is inherently vegetarian and lactose-free.

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches {{Baking Bytes}}

I vaguely considered using fresh jackfruit until I saw the size of one and realized I didn’t want enough to feed the entire Mongol army. Feel free to go fresh if you like, or stick to canned if you want a slightly less exhausting adventure. Ensure you rinse your canned stuff thoroughly in order to remove as much of the “can” flavor as possible. I will fully admit canned jackfruit is not widely stocked nor cheap in my area, but it was definitely a fun recipe nonetheless.

Is it pork? No. Is it delicious? Yes. While it definitely won’t fool any meat eaters since the texture and flavor are both quite different, it’s still an awesome addition to your repertoire and a fun way to add a vegan option to a barbecue spread. And either way it was a perfect vessel for the most amazing barbecue sauce I’ve ever made.

Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

Smoky, sweet, and just enough spice, this barbecue sauce is definitely my go-to recipe. My mom actually sent me this recipe like six months ago and I completely forgot about it until I was considering the menu for this series. I am so glad I finally gave it a try because I personally think my slightly adapted version is just perfect. Easy, smooth, and a perfect balance of smoke and spice without the overload of sugar store-bought varieties typically employ. It comes together in about five minutes and keeps in the fridge for quite a while, so if you try nothing else about this recipe, definitely give the sauce a go! I’ll definitely be using it on everything from burgers to meatloaf to actual pulled pork going forward.

The last piece in this delightful sandwich is the slaw. Pulled pork sandwiches are nearly always accompanied by some kind of coleslaw and I wanted to include that element here as well. Inspired by an existing Olivelle recipe of which I’ve already posted another version, this one is simple but a perfect sweet and crunchy  addition to the barbecue flavor. An equal mix of barrel aged white balsamic and their new vanilla maple olive oil blend into a light and sweet dressing that compliments the crisp sprouts and cabbage without competing with the barbecue sauce. I added some walnuts for extra crunch and that slight nutty flavor adds just a little interest to the whole experience.

Maple Walnut Brussels Sprouts Slaw {{Baking Bytes}}

Sandwiched between your favorite lightly toasted bun with a spread of (mayo), the jackfruit and slaw combine into a sweet and spicy experience that’s not only delicious, but also pretty healthy. It’s inherently vegetarian and can be easily made vegan by subbing or ditching the mayo, making it appropriate for a wide variety of diet preferences. It’s a lovely cozy fall meal but would also be awesome for those summer potlucks, so keep it handy all year long.

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches {{Baking Bytes}}

Whether you try one piece or the whole shebang, I hope you find a new go-to somewhere in the set!

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce
6oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup Smoked Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp liquid smoke, optional
2 Tbsp Sweet Smoked Chili Rub
1 Tbsp Applewood Smoked Sea Salt1
15 twists Bourbon Barrel Smoked Black Peppercorns1
1/4 tsp ground chipotle or cayenne pepper, optional

Maple Walnut Brussels Sprouts Slaw
1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded (about 3 cups)
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

3 Tbsp Barrel Aged White Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbsp Vanilla Maple Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Sea Salt

BBQ Jackfruit
2 Tbsp Caramelized Garlic Olive Oil
3 (14oz) cans young jackfruit in water2
2 Tbsp Sweet Smoked Chili Rub
1 cup smoky sweet barbecue sauce
3/4 cup water

for each sandwich
1 burger bun, toasted
1/2 cup bbq jackfruit
1/4 vanilla maple slaw
mayo (or your favorite vegan substitute), to taste
additional barbecue sauce, to taste

Directions

  1. For the sauce: Blend all sauce ingredients until well combined; store in a pint jar and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 6 weeks.
  2. For the slaw: In a medium bowl, mix together Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and walnuts.
  3. In a pint glass or mason jar, whisk together Barrel Aged White Balsamic, Vanilla Maple Olive Oil, and Vanilla Bean Sea Salt until completely combined.
  4. Stir dressing into Brussels mixture until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 5 days.
  5. For the bbq sandwiches: Drain and thoroughly rinse jackfruit, then pat dry. Set aside.
  6. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the olive oil until shimmering.
  7. Stir in jackfruit and Sweet Smoked Chili Rub and toss until well coated.
  8. Stir in barbecue sauce and water, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until jackfruit is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  9. Spread mayo on bottom half of a toasted bun; top with 1/2 cup jackfruit, 1/4 cup slaw, and additional barbecue sauce, to taste.
  10. Cover with the other half of the bun and enjoy immediately.

Notes

You can substitute plain salt and pepper with minimal taste difference, but the smoky versions add a lovely depth of flavor.

If you prefer meat, I harbor no judgement for substituting normal pulled pork!

Gouda & Brussels Grilled Cheese

Like most lactose-tolerant Americans, cheese is a pretty large staple in my diet. The discovery of the Costco cheese selection entailing far more than my standard Tillamook cheddar has done nothing but enable this addition, but I’m not sad about it. Gouda, specifically smoked Gouda, is one of my favorites and I purchase it nearly as often as I do medium cheddar. The smokiness is perfect with burgers and sandwiches and as a snack, and it never takes us long to go through the pretty heft block.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

The Brussels mac & cheese from a few weeks ago combined three of my favorite things: Gouda, Brussels sprouts, and carbs. Although I decided not to do a grilled cheese series this year, I felt this combination would be perfect for celebrating National Grilled Cheese Day, which is this coming Friday.

Garlic Brussels sprouts and smokey Gouda are possibly my favorite combination to-date and the veggies adds a smidge of health to this delightful meal. Gooey Gouda and crispy bread are always a lovely textural juxtaposition and this sandwich is no exception. I opted to use a few of my favorite Olivelle products in my creation but if your kitchen is not stocked with 2/3 of their store the standard versions work just great.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

A little paprika adds a nice punch to the flavors without overpowering anything, but you can adjust up or down as preferred. With all the rich insides I kept my bread neutral and used my favorite seeded bread from a local bakery, On the Rise Bread Co. This robust wheat bread complemented everything nicely without being too complicated, and I’d recommend a similarly neutral whole wheat bread for this particular sandwich. For the meat-centric folks, some chopped bacon would go well, although I found it to be plenty delicious in its inherently vegetarian state.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

My loaf was fairly narrow so you may need to adjust the sprouts and cheese accordingly if your slices are larger. In my opinion extra sautéed Brussels sprouts are not a problem so just add an extra to your pan and you’ll have a small appetizer of the leftovers that don’t fit.

If you’re cooking for a crowd, you can roast the Brussels in the oven and then cook the sandwiches in a bigger pan or griddle to get more done at once. With just one sandwich I didn’t want to turn on the oven but for a family it’s probably worth it to streamline the process.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese

 

Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day this Friday with a fancy sandwich and take a classic up a notch. Brussels or Gouda not your thing? Check out some of my other options like Beet & Feta or Huckle-bacon Brie!

Gouda & Brussels Grilled Cheese

Makes one sandwich

Ingredients

1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic) olive oil, divided
3-4 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp minced red or yellow onion
1/4 tsp smoked paprika, to taste
pinch of (Hickory Smoked) sea salt, to taste

2 slices neutral wheat bread (I used On the Rise Seeded)
1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda, to taste

Directions

  1. Add 2 tsp oil to medium pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the Brussels, garlic, onion, salt, and paprika.
  2. Sauté until Brussels are cooked through and lightly browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce to medium-low and heat remaining oil.
  4. Top one slice of bread with 1/3 of the cheese, sprouts, and another 1/3 of the cheese. Top the other bread slice with the remaining cheese.
  5. Transfer both slices open-face style to the pan. Cover with a lid and cook until bread is lightly browned.
  6. Flip the cheese bread atop top sprouts and cook an addition 30-60 seconds on each side to allow the filling to stick together.
  7. Serve immediately, optionally  topped with an additional sprinkle of paprika.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese, for me, is the epitome of comfort food. Hot, cheesy, and nostalgic, it’s something my mouth would happily every day. Typically, however, it’s not a particularly healthy meal so I don’t make it often. I have my childhood favorite, the Gruyere version already on here, but when I saw this slightly lighter and more vegetable-forward recipe I knew I had to try it.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables and since they go so well with everything, I knew they’d be an excellent addition to mac and cheese. Using this opportunity to christen the cast iron skillet I got on Black Friday, I made a few adjustments ended up with a recipe I might like even more than the one I grew up with.

Since I prefer the crispiness and light charring from the oven, I opted to roast my sprouts separately. This not only maintains the flavor profile I prefer, but allows you to make the streamline the process a little bit since you can start the sauce while they are baking. Cut them into bite-sized pieces (probably halves or quarters) and they will bake quite promptly.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

With some homemade venison & pork Italian sausage in the freezer, and smoked Gouda in the fridge (thanks, Costco), I opted to incorporate both into this recipe. I love the creaminess of Gouda and the smokiness blends perfectly with the sausage. My version has a little kick, so with a bit of paprika added to the sauce the whole thing comes together very creamy and just a little spicy. The roasted sprouts bring a little color, a complementary flavor, and an extra nutrient boost to the whole dish.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Despite being slightly lightened with the use of almond milk, the sauce is still thick and creamy, just the way I like it. You can make your own with different spices, or keep it simple with just salt and pepper. I didn’t add any in this round, but I think some baby spinach would stir in nicely.

I topped mine with additional cheese and popped it under the broiler, but if I’m honest this step really didn’t feel necessary. You do you, but if you are crunched for time it’s 100% okay to skip it. (I will probably skip it in the future.) Alternatively, if you’re a die-hard crumb topping fan, you can finish the dish with that instead.

Brussels_mac_and_cheese2

The whole thing comes together in about 30 minutes, which makes it just as great for weeknights as it is for meal-prep days. If you have leftovers, it reheats great in the microwave with a splash of extra milk, remembering to stir a couple times to keep it creamy.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

PS – This recipe is easily made vegetarian; just skip the sausage and use 2 Tbsp butter or olive oil for the sauce instead.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

8 ounces pasta of choice

1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 lb Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
2 cups milk (or unsweetened substitute, I used almond)
6 oz smoked Gouda, shredded (or cheese of choice)
1 tsp (smoked) paprika

optional toppings
2 oz smoked Gouda, shredded
freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. On a baking sheet, add 2 Tbsp oil, garlic powder, and Brussels sprouts. Use your hands to toss until sprouts are well coated, then spread evenly on the pan.
  3. Bake 20-25 minutes, to desired crispiness. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, boil noodles to al dente according to your pasta’s directions. Drain and set aside.
  5. Also meanwhile, in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned. Remove the sausage to a paper towel and drain all but 2 Tbsp of the oils.
  6. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  7. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook until a paste forms, about 30 seconds.
  8. Slowly stream in the milk, whisking constantly until smooth, then add the paprika.
  9. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce back to medium and simmer until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
  10. When the sauce has thickened like a gravy, stir in the cheese until completely melted. (Depending on the type of cheese, this can take a bit; cheddar melts much faster than Gouda.) Add additional spices as desired.
  11. Fold in the Brussels sprouts, sausage, and pasta until well mixed.
  12. Serve as is, or top with additional shredded cheese and broil until melted and golden.

Notes

Would also be great with some sautéed or fried spinach!

To reheat leftovers, add a splash of additional milk and heat in the microwave, stirring every minute or so, until creamy and hot.

Thanksgiving Slaw

Coleslaw is something I’ve never enjoyed; it took me until my late twenties to realize I really just didn’t enjoy the mayo-based versions. Shredded cabbage or other veggies in a lighter dressing is just a salad that’s easier to eat, but in my opinion mayo is not intended to be the focal flavor of a dish. (Cue Midwest outcry.) If you disagree, that’s just fine, but I hope you’ll still give this non-mayo coleslaw a try.

Thanksgiving Slaw {{Baking Bytes}}

A few months ago when my mom visited, we took a cooking class from Olivelle. The one that happened to fit with our schedule was a paleo menu, and even though neither of us are paleo I figured the menu sounded great and Olivelle has yet to disappoint me, so we gave it a whirl. As it turned out, it was one of my favorite classes to date (I’ve done…several…) and I loved every single recipe on the menu.

One of those recipes was a Brussels sprouts slaw. I don’t usually care for cruciferous vegetables in their raw state, but somehow after being shredded with cabbage and toasted pecans, folded with blueberries, and lightly coated in a fruity balsamic dressing, I was in love. Not only is this one of the few class recipes I’ve gotten around to making on my own, but I’ve made it three times since August despite having to borrow a food processor eat time.

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Since it’s vegan, paleo, gluten-free and pretty much every-diet-ever friendly, this is a wonderful dish to take to potlucks and gatherings. Even better, it’s great chilled but just fine at room temperature, and best when made ahead, giving you all the time to relax and actually enjoy the party. It also makes a great lunch alongside your protein of choice if you’re fortunate enough to have leftovers. As a bonus, the green sprouts contrast nicely with the purple of the cabbage and the red pomegranate seeds, making it aesthetically pleasing in addition to its fantastic flavors.

I made a few tweaks for an autumn version, resulting in a perfect Thanksgiving side that doesn’t need oven space, and/or a healthy addition to Christmas that maybe even the kids will enjoy. (No guarantees, this recipe was not tested on children.) The Brussels and cabbage base remains, but I opted for walnuts since I prefer them over pecans, and pomegranate seeds for their color and tartness. I 100% cheated and bought a container of seeds, but if you want to get in your work out and seed a pomegranate then by all means, please do so.

Thanksgiving Slaw {{Baking Bytes}}

The dressing is a lovely mix of Olivelle products, so if you’ve not jumped on their bandwagon for some reason then now (or actually, Black Friday) is the time to make the leap. If you’re still not ready, a substitution of regular olive oil and white balsamic vinegar with some splashes of blood orange and pomegranate juices might work out, but I have not tested it. (If you go this route and you like the result, share your recipe in the comments!)

Thanksgiving Slaw {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re in the market for a healthy but different addition to your holiday table, and cannot stomach the thought of putting yet another dish in the oven, this is the recipe for you.

Thanksgiving Slaw

Adapted from Olivelle
Serves 6

Ingredients

1 lbs Brussels sprouts
1/2 small head red cabbage
1 cup walnuts (or nut of choice)
1 cup pomegranate seeds

dressing
1/3 cup Olivelle Harvest Fig or Vanilla Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar(Or a mix of both!)
1/3 cup Olivelle Blood Orange Olive Oil1
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp Olivelle Vanilla Bean Sea Salt (or regular salt)

Directions

  1. Use a food processor (or a grater and a lot of patience) to shred the sprouts and cabbage. (If you’re a novice at food processing, this works best if you do it in relatively small batches.) Add both to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Coarsely chop walnuts (by hand, or with the food processor). Add to a dry pan and toast lightly over medium heat until fragrant. (Or skip this step if you’re lazy or in a hurry – it’ll still be good just a slightly different nuttiness flavor.)
  3. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously until well mixed. Taste for flavor preferences, and adjust if necessary.
  4. Pour over the sprouts and cabbage and stir with a rubber scraper until well coated.
  5. Fold in toasted nuts and pomegranate seeds.
  6. Store in the fridge until ready to serve – overnight is better – then enjoy chilled or at room temperature. Will keep for at least five days in the fridge.

Notes

If you have not purchased the entire Olivelle store, a substitution of 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, and pomegranate + blood orange juice to taste might work. This is an untested substitution so let me know if you try it!

Fall Harvest Browned Butter Pasta

During the summer I rarely eat pasta as I prefer lighter and cooler meals in the hot weather. As the temperature drops and the leaves change, I reintroduce pastas and soups into my regular rotation. However, with Montana’s bipolar weather patterns, fall typically holds as many days in the 70s as it does in the 40s, which makes my usual bulk preparation a bit more challenging. Quinoa salads are great for this, because they are excellent both warm and cold, making it easy to match the weather and my mood for the day, but I don’t want to eat one every week. Another option are vegetable-heavy pasta meals that don’t involve a heavy sauce.

This recipe is partly inspired by my favorite cookbook, written by an elite distance runner. It’s full of hearty and delicious meals that aren’t “skinny” but still full of veggies and healthy fats. I modified my version slightly, adding Brussels sprouts and changing the spices a little, based off a similar recipe online. The result is a colorful mix of veggies and pasta, falling somewhere between a light summer entree and a cozy fall one.

Brussels sprouts are a winter staple for me, as they keep well in the fridge and roasting them is simple and always delicious. (They are also sold at Costco, which admittedly factors heavily into my produce selections.) The butternut squash takes a bit more effort to prepare, but you can really streamline the process by buying the pre-diced version. This does feel slightly ridiculous, but it saves a huge amount of time and effort so personally I think it’s worth the extra couple dollars.

Browned butter adds a nice caramel flavor, complimented by herbs and a few red pepper flakes. I kept my sauce on the light side as I wanted the veggies to shine, but absolutely double the sauce recipe if you want a more decadent experience. I opted to add toasted walnuts for some crunch, and parmesan (because you can’t go wrong with cheese) for a delicious protein boost. I personally loved this recipe in its original vegetarian state, but some crumbled bacon or prosciutto would be a nice addition as well.

It reheats nicely for leftovers, and is also pretty good cold if you didn’t add too much extra sauce. Welcoming in the fall vegetables without the heat or heaviness of a chili, it bridges the divide from summer to winter with a more gradual shift. If, like me, you’re in a place that can’t quite make up it’s mind about the weather, a batch of this will be that perfect mix of cozy and cool.

Fall Harvest Browned Butter Pasta

Inspired by Maebells and Run Fast, Eat Slow
Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb pasta (I used casarecce)

for the sauce
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

optional toppings
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together butternut squash and 1 tablespoon of olive oil until squash is well coated. Spread in an even layer on one baking sheet.
  3. In the same bowl, mix together Brussels sprouts and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, mixing until well coated. Spread in an even layer on the other baking sheets.
  4. Sprinkle both sheets with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Roast for 30 minutes (squash on top), stirring halfway through, until squash is tender.
  6. Remove squash from oven and move sprouts to the upper rack, roasting another 5-10 minutes until browned and crispy.
  7. Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  8. When the veggies have about 10 minutes remaining, make the sauce: melt butter in a large pot (I used a wok) over medium heat. Simmer until it begins to darken and contains brown flecks, stirring occasionally.
  9. Turn off the heat and stir in garlic and spices.
  10. When the veggies and pasta are done, stir gently into the sauce until completely combined and evenly coated.
  11. Serve hot with extra grated pepper, optionally topped with one tablespoon each of Parmesan and toasted walnuts.

Notes

I kept the sauce fairly light as I wanted the veggies to shine through. If you’re looking for a rich, buttery experience, feel free to double the sauce recipe.

To toast walnuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until warmed, lightly golden, and a little crunchier (about 5 minutes).