Grilled brussels sprouts combined with crisp and bitter kale topped with spicy tempeh; all enrobed in a creamy peanut sauce? Yeah, this is a special salad for sure! The brussels get a nice smoky flavor and become slightly caramelized on the grill which constitutes the element that elevates this dish the most. Many flavors and textures keep your taste buds interested and the heft of the tempeh, rice and nuts keep your stomach full.
Sustainability Spotlight: Brussels sprouts are a cool-weather vegetable and packed with nutritious value such as fiber (to keep you full), Vitamin K (blood clotting and bone metabolism boosting) and Vitamin C (yes! immunity boost). Brussels are also (basically) mini cabbages which makes them prone to infestations by aphids (small green sap-sucking bugs).
Aphids are a nuisance and can render entire crops of brussels sprouts as unmarketable (i.e. - cannot be sold / used in any way). Usually, the bugs get under the tight leaves of the cabbage and cannot be visually seen until they have reproduced beyond salvage of the crop. This leads many farmers to utilize chemical pest-control as a preventative measure in large quantities. While some organic pesticides have been shown to have more effective control of aphids in brussels sprouts (specifically) than chemical (traditional) pesticide applications, many farmers are looking for solutions that do not require significant application at all to their fields.
Enter: a natural predator to aphids may be a supplemental solution to other organic pesticides. Ladybugs! Ladybugs eat aphids and are currently under various research programs (such as teams at the University of New Hampshire, Clemson University, and various independent sources collaborating via the National Institutes for Health (NIH) in order to integrate in conjunction with more sustainable (organic) pesticides. Did you know that a single ladybug (also known as a lady beetle or a ladybird) can eat up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime? A ladybug only lives up to a year and so, on average, a ladybug can eat ~14 aphids a day. With ladybug colonies being thousands strong, their predatory control over farming communities can be a substantial part of pesticide control measures for farming crops such as brussels sprouts. Next time you see a ladybug, consider how amazing their contributions can be to the future of the overall sustainability of our food sources.
1 lb brussels sprouts (trimmed & halved)
1 tbsp avocado oil
salt (to taste)
1/2 bunch purple kale (de-stemmed & finely chopped)
1 large handful spinach (finely chopped)
1 package buffalo tempeh (cubed)
2 green onions (diced)
2 tbsp unsalted dry roasted peanuts (finely chopped)
1 bag microwaveable rice, lentils & bulgar blend (or just brown rice)
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup filtered water
(1) 1 x 1 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled & chopped)
4 garlic cloves (chopped)
2 tbsp sriracha sauce
1 lime (juiced)
Mix brussels sprouts with avocado oil and salt to combine (coating all sprouts). Place in a large grill basket and grill at ~500 degrees F for 10-12 minutes (stirring with tongs or shaking the basket with grill gloves in 5 min intervals). Brussels are done with they have paled slightly (they should not be olive green; those are overcooked) in their vibrancy, show blackened (caramelized) spots and can be easily pierced with a fork. Set aside to cool slightly
While your brussels are grilling, chop and combine all salad ingredients (kale through rice) in a large salad bowl.
While your brussels are cooling slightly, chop tempeh into small cubes and saute (stirring infrequently at first and then frequently towards the end of the cook time) in a large skillet over medium-high heat with some avocado oil (~1 tbsp) to brown and cook through. Tempeh is done when it shows browning (~7 minutes). Set aside to cool slightly.
Blitz all peanut-lime sauce in a personal blender until smooth and fully combined.
Add brussels to salad along with the peanut-lime sauce and stir completely to combine.
Serve salad warm with more peanuts as desired.
I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we do! Great for the grilling months and wonderful for a quick and easy dinner mid-week. Enjoy!
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie