Chef Aarón Sánchez understands the importance of family and food better than no one else. Being raised by his mother, Zarela Martínez, he was surrounded by familia and delicious food — a culture that molded him into the chef and man he is today.
In his new book, Where I Come From: Life Lessons of a Latino Chef, he shares details about his life growing up and how he was able to find his voice and a platform in an industry that didn’t have many Latinxers in top positions.
In an exclusive chat with HOLA! USA (available in our December/January magazine cover), he shares how finding your own sazón in life and knowing what you want to do can take you far.
In his memoir, he also shares special recipes that we can all make at home, to be shared with our loved ones.
Check out the recipe he share with our readers for his signature Brussels Sprouts Salad from his restaurant Johnny Sánchez below!
Johnny Sánchez’ Brussels Sprouts Salad with Butternut Squash, Cotija and Jalapeño vinaigrette
Ingredients for Salad
1 large butternut squash
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1⁄2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano 1⁄4 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄4 tsp. ground coriander
1⁄4 tsp. ground fennel
1⁄4 tsp. ground yellow mustard 1⁄4 tsp. sweet paprika
1⁄8 tsp. onion powder
1⁄8 tsp. garlic powder
2 quarts canola or vegetable oil for frying 8 cups Brussels sprouts
1 cup roasted jalapeño vinaigrette
1⁄2 cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving
1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
1⁄4 cup pomegranate seeds
Preparation for Salad
Preheat oven to 375° F and line a bak- ing sheet with parchment paper.
2. Peel and seed the squash. Dice it into 1" pieces. Toss to coat with olive oil, salt, and all spices. Spread it on a sheet in a single layer. Roast until tender and edges are lightly browned—around 20-30 minutes.
3. Add the canola oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and clip a thermometer to the side. Line a plate with paper towels. Halve the Brussels sprouts and trim the tough outer leaves. Bring the oil to 375°F over medium-high heat and fry the sprouts in batches until golden brown—about 2 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon transfer the sprouts to the lined plate. Season with salt.
4. Add the vinaigrette to the bottom of a large mixing bowl and gently fold in the squash, Brussels sprouts, cilantro, and serrano pepper to coat. Scatter the cotija and a handful of pomegranate seeds over the top.
Ingredients for Roasted Jalapeño Vinaigrette
2 cloves garlic
1 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
1⁄4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. orange juice 1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. agave nectar 1 cup cilantro
Preparation for Roasted Jalapeño Vinaigrette
1. Preheat a grill to medium-high or place a metal grate directly on top of a burner over medium heat. Set the jalapeños and scallions over the flame to roast, turning occasionally, until they’re soft and charred all over. Cool the jalapeños and peel any papery char from them. Remove stems, seeds, and membranes.
2. Confit the garlic by peeling the whole cloves, covering with oil in a small sauce- pan, and gently warming over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes, until soft but not browned. Remove the garlic when done, reserving the oil.
3. Chop the roasted jalapeños and scallions, place in a blender, and purée with the confit garlic, rice vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, agave nectar, and cilantro. Keep the blender going and stream in the reserved garlic oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Use right away or refrigerate up to one week.