A Summer Evening, on the Side
By Dennis Linden
Here’s the PERFECT summertime side dish to accompany grilled pork chops or maybe that special secret sauce BBQ chicken that was submitted by Nick Quintero of Melissa’s Social Media Department. Nick combines two of the company’s convenient pre-cooked, heat-and-serve products, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Peeled & Steamed Baby Potatoes, with August’s fresh grape harvest in an easy recipe that tastes like it takes hours to make!
“I came up with this dish during one of my weekly meal planning sessions,” explained Nick. “I meal prep on Sunday or Monday night to free up mental space during the week. I buy product in bulk to save money and plan my meals so I don’t overeat. I need to balance my workouts with nutrition to achieve my fitness goals, which led to preparing my weekly menu ahead of time.”
Both Melissa’s Roasted Brussels and Peeled & Steamed Baby Potatoes will cut the cooking time for this dish in half compared to using their raw counterparts. For Nick’s prep-ahead routine, this recipe can be followed right up to, but not including, the final oven time. However, if you do want to make this dish a few days ahead of cooking it, hold back the grapes from the mix until ready to put the roasting pan in the oven. While the rest of ingredients will profit from marinating together for a time, the grapes will only deteriorate in freshness. Since the other two main ingredients only need to be heated up, the cooking time is really to roast the grapes; when the fruit starts to split, which will add succulent juices to the mix, the dish is done. This should take about thirty minutes, just enough time to grill those chops or chicken! About twenty minutes into the cooking process, stir up the mix to so that the juice of the grapes coats all the ingredients. Plus, the aroma will stir up the appetite!
Nick Quintero has been a member of the Melissa’s team for five years. “I work on building relationships, educating consumers and inspiring them to eat better by way of the company’s social media platforms,” described Nick in only 138 characters—true to his avocation!
He and wife Paula have been married for 9 years. Nick is the proud father of four: Faith (12), Gracie (6), Micah (4) and Mikayla (3). While one would assume that four kids would occupy all his time away from the office, not so. “My goal is an overall wellness: Physical, Financial, Spiritual, Mental,” recounted Nick. “So I go to a gym four days per week, practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu weekly and go to church every Sunday. I also like to tinker with cars and collect antique watches.”
While Nick tries not to bring his work home, in a manner of speaking his favorite after-hours passion is an offshoot of his social media work at the office. Namely, building websites and other digital assets for his friends that he describes as a “very serious hobby” done for the pleasure of the challenges involved rather than any monetary gain.
“I enjoy the way I have to think through problems and put myself in the minds of others,” Nick said, then clarified: “For example, if I’m building a website around weight loss, what verbiage would someone use to find the website? Once they find the website, what is their mental thought process about how to solve their situation? Once they find what they think is a solution, how will they perceive the outcome? In fact, building these things takes a good understanding of online psychology and sociology, which I find just fascinating.”
If Nick’s website building results are anything like his recipe constructing talents, his friends are in good cyber hands! We look forward to another submission generated by one of those weekly meal- prepping sessions soon, Chef Nick. Enjoy!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Petite Potatoes and Red Grapes
2 packages Melissa’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 package Melissa’s Peeled & Steamed Baby Potatoes
1 pound Seedless Red Grapes
2 cloves Garlic, smashed
3 ounces Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme leaves (garnish)
Combine the Brussels Sprouts, Baby Potatoes, grapes and garlic in a large mixing bowl.
Add the cumin, salt and pepper, then drizzle in the olive oil and toss until all ingredients are thoroughly coated with the oil.
Rub the bottom of a shallow roasting pan with olive oil, then pour the mixture into the pan; spread out the ingredients in a single layer to ensure an even cook. Roast at 400° in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until grapes begin to split.
Transfer the hot mixture back into the large mixing bowl and toss with the vinegar, then garnish with fresh thyme. Serve hot.