Category Archives: Side Dish

Guacamole Pasta Salad

Guacamole Pasta Salad (still waiting for the avocado)

Guacamole Pasta Salad (still waiting for the avocado)

Our posting has been much less frequent than last year but we have still been busy in the kitchen. This summer has been all about canning for me and I have been making batch after batch of jams, relishes, and pickles.  Of course I took a couple of breaks from canning to do some party cooking.  With both Thing 1 and Thing 2 having late summer birthdays there has been lots of cake and also this delicious pasta salad.

Dressing ingredients

Dressing ingredients

The nice thing about this salad is that it comes together quickly and makes enough to serve an army.  Also, it tastes really yummy.  The lime-y dressing is addictive and I find it hard to make it in advance because it ends up poured over everything from steamed vegetables to grilled chicken (which leaves nothing left for the salad).  The dressing volume may seem like a lot but I found the pasta absorbs a lot more than one would think.

Tomatoes ready for roasting

Tomatoes ready for roasting

This dish was inspired by our love of guacamole and the desire to make a pasta salad that was light and fresh tasting, not heavy with mayo.  The avocado gives it a creamy taste that is contrasted nicely by the lime dressing and the bite of the red onion.  The sweet tomatoes finish it off.  So grab a few of the last tomatoes we are likely to see for a while here in the northeast (*sniffle*) and whip this up for one last summer party.

Hello cilantro

Hello cilantro

Guacamole Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

For the dressing

juice and zest of 3 limes (about 3/4 cup of juice)

1/4 cup mild vinegar such as white wine or champagne

3 shallots, chopped

2 tbls Dijon mustard

3 cups of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

For the salad

16 oz rotini or penne pasta

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes*

3 ripe avocados

1/2 cup minced red onion

1 large bunch fresh cilantro

To Make:

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.  Meanwhile, make the dressing.  In a blender combine the lime juice and zest, vinegar, shallots, and mustard.  Blend until smooth.  With the blender running, slowly pour in the olive oil until a smooth, emulsified dressing forms.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour 2 cups of the dressing over the still-warm pasta and toss until well combined.

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and fold, along with the onions, into the pasta.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  This can be made a day or two in advance.

Just before serving chop the avocados and fold them into the pasta.  Top with additional dressing as desired (we found we needed quite a bit because the warm pasta absorbed a lot of the dressing) and lots of chopped cilantro.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately.

To Serve:

Serve this salad cold or room temperature.  Because there is no mayonnaise it can safely sit out at a picnic or party for a while.  The avocado will start to turn brown eventually so make sure not to add it until just before serving.  This recipe serves a bunch but it can easily be halved to make a smaller amount.

* The first time I made this salad tomatoes weren’t in season and all I had was a couple of containers of bland-tasting tomatoes from the grocery store.  To up their flavor I drizzled them with olive oil and roasted them on a sheet pan for a couple of hours in a 250 degree oven until they were shriveled and concentrated.  You can do this with in-season tomatoes too.  The flavor is extra delicious.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Pasta, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

There is a Korean restaurant near where we live that we visit whenever we get the chance.  They make a kimchi pancake that is fantastic; even the small Things love it.  The only problem is that when we get takeout, the kimchi pancake is cold and slightly soggy by the time we get it home.  The idea of my beloved kimchi pancake cold and soggy makes me sad… so we decided to try our hand at a home version.

Ingredients

Ingredients

These vegetable pancakes make a pretty nice substitute.  They have the flavor of the different vegetables and the use of rice flour makes them nice and light.  Even better, the batter comes together very quickly so you can have these on the table in less than 20 minutes.  They make an excellent side to Korean-style ramen noodle soup or to some beef and broccoli.

Pancake batter

Pancake batter

If you wanted to make these more like traditional kimchi pancakes, you could increase the kimchi to two cups, substitute 1/4 cup of water with 1/4 cup liquid from the kimchi, and omit the carrot, scallion, and cilantro.  You could also add some cooked and shredded pork to make these more hearty.

Cooking the cake

Cooking the cake

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rice flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbls neutral oil, such as peanut or canola

5 scallions, green parts only, finely diced

1 tbls fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/4 cup of cilantro

1 large carrot

1 cup kimchi

To Make:

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, eggs, 1 tbls oil and 1-1/2 cups water until a smooth batter is formed.  Let the batter rest while the veggies are prepped.

To prep the vegetables, coarsely grate the carrot and finely chop the scallions and kimchi.  Chop the cilantro.  Once the vegetables and cilantro are ready, add them to the batter and stir gently until just combined.  The batter will be thick, like pancake batter.

Heat a griddle or large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.  When hot, ladle a quarter cup of batter and spread it out into a circle.  Cook until the bottom is browned (turn down the heat to medium if needed).  Flip and cook the second side until it is lightly browned, about another 5 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

As the pancakes finish, remove them and, if necessary, store on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve.

To Serve:

Serve warm, cut into triangles.  Dip in a sauce made with soy, rice vinegar, and a bit of sesame oil

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-free, Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Honey-Glazed Beans

Honey-Glazed Beans

Honey-Glazed Beans

T-minus 12 days and counting until Thanksgiving.  We are hosting this year for the first time ever.  It is exciting but also a little nerve wracking.  Even with all the cooking we do, the idea of putting a big spread together and serving everything perfectly cooked and timed is somewhat overwhelming.  To help ease the stress, we try to plan a meal that has lots forgiving dishes.  Those that take very little minding while they are cooking and that provide a lot of flexibility for serving.

Dried Pinot Beans

Dried Pinot Beans

These beans meet both of those criteria, with the additional benefit of offering a unique twist on classic baked beans.  The honey flavor comes through loud and clear in this dish, making it immediately obvious that you are dealing with something just a little bit different.  Like all good bean dishes, these cook long and slow and need very little help from the chef.

Honey and Maple Syrup

Honey and Maple Syrup

The beans cook in a honey-flavored broth with onion and a smoked ham hock (or bacon) until they are tender.  Then the beans are removed, the ham hock is chopped, and the broth is reduced until it is thick and syrupy.  Everything is tossed together and can sit, gently warming, on the stove until the rest of dinner is ready.  It’s the perfect recipe for a busy Thanksgiving meal.

Chopped Smoked Ham Hock

Chopped Smoked Ham Hock

Honey-Glazed Beans

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 pound dried pinto beans

2 medium onions, diced

1 smoked ham hock (or 8 ounces bacon, diced)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbls ground ginger

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

To Make:

Rinse the beans.  Combine them with 10 cups of water in a large, oven-proof pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until beans are almost tender, about 45 minutes.

Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid.  Place the bean along with the onion, garlic, and ham hock (or bacon) back in the pot.  Stir the honey, syrup, ginger, mustard, salt, and pepper into the cooking liquid.  Pour the liquid over the beans, cover, and place in a 300 degree F oven.  Cook until the beans are fully tender, about 2.5 hours.  If cooking with a ham hock, remove the skin and bone and chop the meat.

At this point, you could separate the liquid from the solids refrigerate them both overnight.  About 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, boil the liquid over medium-high heat until it is reduced by about 2/3.  Once the broth is thickened, fold the beans, onion, and ham hock (or bacon) into the liquid.  Keep warm on the stove top until ready to serve.

To Serve:

Serve warm.  Makes 8 servings.

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Filed under Beans, Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Are you swimming in vegetables yet?  If you belong to a CSA and/or make a hobby out of frequenting your local farmer’s market, I imagine you are feeling a little like we are.  Sometimes I fear that I won’t be able to use all my vegetables fast enough before the next batch arrives.  It certainly doesn’t help that I approach buying vegetables like I do buying shoes.  I know that I have a bunch of stuff at home that I should eat but I just can’t resist a ripe melon or a basket of technicolor cherry tomatoes.

Zucchini and Eggplant

Zucchini and Eggplant

That is where Ratatouille comes in.  This recipe is one of the best ways to use up all those veggies you have in the fridge (psst, you can even use the ones that are slightly past their peak of freshness).  The vegetables are cooked with olive oil, aromatic herbs, and a splash of vinegar and somehow, this transforms a dish that is mostly zucchini and eggplant into something that is silky, rich, and deeply satisfying.

Onions and Peppers

Onions and Peppers

If you have lots of veggies, you can easily double this recipe (which is what I did) and make enough to feed an army.  It keeps well in the fridge and reheats nicely for leftover.

Tomatoes and Herbs

Tomatoes and Herbs

Ratatouille

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes

1 lb zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes

1 large onion, sliced

1 small bell pepper, cut into 1″ squares (we threw some left over hot pepper in there too… feel free to do the same if you like a little heat)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 4-inch sprig of rosemary

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup basil

2 tbls red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

Using a large skillet that has a cover, saute the eggplant and zucchini over high heat in 1/4 cup olive oil until just tender, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the eggplant and zucchini and set aside.  Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the two tablespoons of olive oil and the onions. Cook until the onions are slightly softened.  Add in the bell pepper and garlic and continue to cook until just tender, another 8-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the tomatoes, the garlic, rosemary, and bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and let it ride for 5 minutes.  Add back in the previously cooked eggplant and zucchini.  This time, let it all cook over low heat until it’s really tender, about 20 minutes.  To finish, stir in the fresh basil and red wine vinegar.

To Serve:

Ratatouille makes a delicious main dish, a side dish, or light lunch.  It can be served warm or room temperature.  Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

I love fresh picked corn on the cob.  Steamed with a little salt and melted butter, it tastes like summer on a plate.  Luckily, we get a lot of corn through our CSA so I get to eat my fill.  Once in a while, after the steamed and grilled ears have gotten a little (dare I say it) blase, I start hunting around for a little something different.

Corn, hot off the grill

Corn, hot off the grill

When we made carnitas for dinner the other night (post coming soon), I wanted something fresh and southwestern-inspired to add to our pork burritos.  Enter this quick and easy summer salad/salsa/condiment.  It doesn’t take long to throw together and it is even better if you make it in advance and let it sit for a while.  You don’t have to grill the corn but I really like the smoky, slightly charred flavor that the corn takes on after a spin on the grill.  If you want to spice this up a bit, feel free to add a chopped hot pepper or even a little chipotle in adobo for a smoky kick.

Ready to mix

Ready to mix

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

From the mind of Kelly

Ingredients:

6 ears of corn

2 cups black beans ( or 1, 15 oz can rinsed and drained)

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp onion powder

zest and juice of one lime

1 tbls fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tbls fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To Make:

Start your grill (gas or charcoal) and get it good and hot. Shuck the corn, making sure to pull off as much of the silk as you can.  Roast the corn directly on the grill grates, turning a quarter turn every 2-3 minutes.  When it is done, the kernels will be just barely tender.  Feel free to roast it a bit longer if you like your corn softer.

Once the ears have cooled, trim off the kernels into a medium.  Stir in the black beans, herbs, spices, lime zest, and the squeezed lime juice until well combined.  Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

To Serve:

Serve as a salad, as a topping to burritos or quesadillas, add a finely minced hot pepper and call it a salsa, the possibilities are endless.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Spicy Green Beans with Tamari Roasted Almonds

Spicy Green Beans with Tamari Roasted Almonds

Spicy Green Beans with Tamari Roasted Almonds

I have a confession to make.  I don’t really care all that much for green beans.  I try to like them.  I eat them steamed, roasted, even grilled, but they never get more than a “meh” from me.  I really want to like them, all green and fresh and crisp but something about the flavor is off for me.

Beans, ginger, and a chili

Beans, ginger, and a chili

This season, I was determined to find a way to cook green beans that I would actually enjoy.  After much searching, Marc came across this recipe.  It looked promising.  Sesame oil, good.  Ginger and garlic, good.  Hoisin sauce, very good.  Almonds soaked in Tamari soy sauce, very very good.

Almonds bathing in tamari

Almonds bathing in tamari

Turns out, this recipe is awesome.  I love good Chinese food and this has all the elements of Chinese take out.  Even better, it made me like green beans.  In fact, I had leftovers the next day, a true testament to the deliciousness of this dish.

Beans in their delicious sauce

Beans in their delicious sauce

Spicy Green Beans with Tamari Roasted Almonds

Adapted from The Produce Bible by Leanne Kitchen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almonds

Tamari soy sauce, for soaking

3 tbls toasted sesame oil

1 cup rice (uncooked)

1 hot red chili, seeded, finely chopped

1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cups green beans (about a pound), cut into 2 inch pieces

1/3 cup hoisin sauce

1 tbls brown sugar

2 tbls mirin (rice cooking wine)

To make:

First, make the tamari almonds.  Put the almonds in a bowl and pour in enough tamari to cover.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain off the tamari (save the tamari, it can still be used).  Heat the almonds for a few minutes in a hot skillet, shaking occasionally.  Roughly chop and set aside.  Wipe out the skillet.

In a sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil.  When the oil is hot, dump in the rice.  Stir to coat the rice and toast for a few minutes.  Add in the appropriate amount of water and cooking according to the rice instructions.  Set aside.

In the same skillet that you used for the almonds, heat two tablespoons of toasted sesame oil.  Add in the finely chopped ginger, garlic, and chili; cook for 1 minute.  Add in the green beans, hoisin sauce, and brown sugar.  Cook until the beans are slightly tender, but still with some crunch, about 5 minutes (or until they are as soft as you like).  Add in the mirin and cook for 1 minute more.

 To Serve:

Put the rice in a large serving bowl.  Top with the green beans and all of the wonderful sauce.  Finally, add the roughly chopped almonds.  Serves 6 as a side.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Rice, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Zucchini Pancakes with Mint and Basil

Zucchini Pancakes with Mint and Basil

I am having a tough time believing that it is zucchini season already.  The summer is speeding by and even though it seems like our first CSA delivery was just a couple of weeks ago, we are already finding ourselves with lots of zucchini and summer squash. 

Lots of Zucchini

We are always looking for new ways to cook zucchini.  With the early veggies, we enjoy simple sautes and stir sliced zucchini into pasta.  However, as the season wears on, I start needing to spice things up a little bit.  These pancakes are really tasty, easy to make, and make use of lots of fresh summer ingredients.  According to my little brother, these zucchini cakes were “mad good”. 

Herbs and Feta

It is worth noting that the batter is very loose.  There is not a lot of binder relative the rather large amount of zucchini in the recipe.  This makes the cooked cakes a little fragile, but I like the way the zucchini and herb flavors come cleanly through.  If you wanted more of a typical “pancake” texture, adding an extra egg and maybe another 1/4-1/2 cup of flour would help.

Cakes on the Griddle

Zucchini Pancakes with Mint and Basil

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs zucchini, golden zucchini, or summer squash

1/4 of a large onion

2 large eggs

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

3 tbls fresh mint, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

To Make:

Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate the zucchini and onion.  Rinse briefly with cold water.  Place handfuls of the grated vegetables in a tea towel and squeeze all the water out.  Repeat until all the zucchini and onion are squeezed dry.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Add the cheese, bread crumbs, flour, garlic, and herbs and stir to combine.  Stir the zucchini and onion into the batter.

Drop the batter by 1/4 cupfuls on a lightly oiled, preheated skillet or griddle.  Cook until golden brown on one side, about four minutes.  Flip, flatten gently with the back of the spatula, and cook until the second side is golden.  Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven until they are ready to be served.

To Serve:

Serve warm or room temperature.  Makes about 20, 4 inch cakes.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian