On Simplicity

Some dishes succeed through a building of many flavors; others get their personality through simple, tactful selection of ingredients. I often work within a rule-of-three when I'm pairing flavors, and these two dishes exemplify how a recipe doesn't have to be thirty ingredients long to be delicious... 

Left: When it comes to polenta, you can do no wrong to add herbs and cheese to the creamy cornmeal. The combinations are limitless, but here I perfumed mine simply with fresh rosemary and parmesan for an earthy, rustic side. Right: Since Brussels sprouts and cipollini onions naturally get caramelized as they roast, I decided to play up that flavor by anointing them in a sweet honey-balsamic dressing. Neither dish is complicated, but in avoiding unnecessary frills both maintain the integrity of their ingredients and respectfully balance the original flavors. 


3 cups water
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (about 2 large sprigs) 
Freshly cracked black pepper

Bring 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil and add polenta. Cook, stirring frequently, for 20 to 30 minutes until water is absorbed and polenta is creamy. Stir in freshly grated parmesan and about 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, plus more as preferred. Season with salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.



1 lb brussels sprouts
1 lb cipollini onions
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 dgF. Wash and trim about 1 lb brussels sprouts; remove outside layer of leaves and quarter sprouts. Peel about 1 lb cipollini onions and place them in a medium bowl with the quartered-sprouts.

2. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper; adjusting to preferred taste. Drizzle honey-balsamic dressing over the sprouts and onions, and toss until evenly coated. (Reserve some of the dressing for post-roasting.)

3. Spread vegetables evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 20 minutes until Brussels sprouts are browning and leaves are beginning to char slightly. Onions should be browned and soft. (You may need to turn the oven down to 350 dgF and continue to cook if the sprouts char too quickly).  Remove from oven and toss the warm vegetables with a little more honey-balsamic dressing. Serve warm or cold.


  1. I adore simple dishes as well and think you chose wonderful combinations! That photo is lovely, too, with those repeating circles of the onions and plate and on the wood. As a relative newcomer to your blog, I am enjoying it very much!

    Cheers, Stacy

    1. Thanks for your sweet note, Stacy! I hope you enjoy reading.

  2. Regarding your honey balsamic roasted brussel sprouts and cipollini onions, could you please give a ballpark amount of how much balsamic vinegar and how much honey to use to start? Thank you.