Category Archives: Side Dish

Spinach Risotto

Spinach Risotto

I have a confession, I am addicted to making risotto in my pressure cooker.  Since discovering the wonder of making perfect risotto in minutes using this amazing device, I make it all the time.  Lunch on a Saturday, let’s have risotto.  Dinner on Tuesday, sure risotto would be a tasty side. 

Fresh spinach

Now I realize this is the third risotto recipe I have posted (if you are hungry, check out apple cheddar risotto and mushroom risotto) but it is too delicious to keep to myself.  This recipe uses fresh mushrooms cooked down until they are brown and meaty and fresh spinach to add lovely color and flavor.  Chicken stock spiked with vermouth adds unusual flavor notes to the rice.  Finally, stirring in some shredded swiss cheese adds a nice bite to the creamy dish.

Browned mushrooms

If you wanted, you could adapt this recipe for stove top cooking.  Just heat the liquid and add it, a ladle at a time, to the rice and stir constantly until it is absorbed.  Repeat until the rice is creamy.

Toasting the rice

Spinach Risotto


2 tbls butter, divided

5 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbls olive oil

8 oz fresh spinach, washed and tough stems trimmed off

1 cup aborio rice

2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup dry vermouth

3 oz swiss cheese

To Make:

In a medium skillet heat 1 tbls olive oil over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the well drained spinach and sautee until just starting to wilt, about 2 minutes.  Remove the spinach to a colander and let drain while the risotto is cooking.

In your pressure cooker (or whatever pot you will be using to make the risotto), melt 1 tbls butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic and cook until browned and the mushrooms have given up their liquid, about 15 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter.  Cook the rice, stirring until toasted, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and vermouth, put the lid on the pressure cooker, and bring to pressure.  Cook for 8 minutes.  Release the pressure and stir in cheese, spinach, and remaining tbls butter until smooth and creamy.

To Serve:

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish.

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Filed under Dinner, Mushrooms, Recipes, Rice, Side Dish, Vegetables

Asian-Inspired Kale Salad

Asian-Inspired Kale Salad

 As I mentioned here, one of the best things about our deep winter CSA is that we get locally grown greens in the middle of winter.  When you try to eat seasonally in New England, it can feel like a long winter of root vegetables when the only the greens you have are those you froze the previous summer.  With our last distribution, we got some very fresh and tender kale.  We almost always eat our kale cooked, frequently sauteed in some olive oil with onions and garlic.  Last week at a business meeting, I had a cold kale salad and suddenly, a new world of possibilities opened up.

Fresh kale in the steamer basket

Normally, when I see cold kale it is on the side of a diner plate as garnish.  I never really thought to serve kale as the base of a salad.  However, this salad was really delicious and I thought maybe it would be worth it to try to make my own kale salad.  Last night, this dish was the result of that effort.  Steaming the kale briefly locks in the bright green color and cooks it just enough to take the toughness out.  Toss it with some paper thin red onion slices and a very simple dressing right before serving and you have a quick, easy, healthy, and really tasty salad in minutes.

Asian-Inspired Kale Salad


2 medium bunches of kale (any variety will do)

1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 tbls Tamari soy sauce (low sodium)

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1/4 tsp fish sauce

1/4 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

1 small garlic clove, finely minced

To Make:

Wash kale, cut the leaves off the stems, and chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces.  Fill a large pot outfitted with a steamer basket with about an inch of water.  Bring the water to a boil and add the kale to the steamer basket.  Steam, with the cover on, until bright green and tender, about 5 minutes.  Place the steamed kale in a bowl and chill. 

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl (or place all ingredients in a container with a lid and shake until combined).  Just before serving, top the kale with very thinly sliced onion and toss with the dressing.

To Serves:

Serves 4.  Kale can be made ahead of time and chilled, undressed, until ready to serve.

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

Mashed Potato, Ham, and Cheese Bake

Mashed Potato, Ham, and Cheese Bake

When do you find yourself reaching for comfort food?  Is it when you are tired or stressed, when the weather is cold and gray, when you aren’t feeling well?  For us, it is really all of the above.  This past week has been a little stressful and rather tiring.  The weather hasn’t been the greatest and I have been fighting a cold.  Luckily, when all of those unfortunate things converge in the space of one week, there is this casserole to make things seem much brighter.

Simple but good quality ingredients

There is nothing fancy about this dish.  It doesn’t use any fancy ingredients, nothing special in the prep, and it doesn’t really even look all that pretty.  However, it tastes really, really good.  It is warm and hearty fare that is great for any time of day.  It makes a nice brunch dish, since much of it can be prepared ahead of time, great as left overs for lunch, and of course, the best comfort food ever for dinner.

Bake sans parmesan and panko layers

To really make this dish stand out, make sure to use the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on.  Choose really good ham, flavorful cheese, and potatoes as fresh as you can get them.  When the casserole comes out of the oven all brown and crunchy on top, loaded with ham, and dripping with melted cheese, you won’t be sorry.

Golden brown and delicious

Mashed Potato, Ham, and Cheese Bake

Recipe adapted from Marc’s Italian neighbor growing up, Maria Paolucci


1 1/2 lb all purpose potatoes

4 tablespoons butter

1 tbls bacon fat (or butter or cooking oil)

8 oz smoked ham steak

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 small sweet onion, finely diced

8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

4 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded

1 oz Parmesan cheese, finely shredded

1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

To Make:

Scrub potatoes and quarter them (if you have potatoes with tender skins, leave them on, otherwise peel them).  Place potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover by about an inch and bring to a boil.  Boil until tender when pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes.  Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and melt the bacon fat.  Add the ham steak and heat until cooked through.  Remove the ham steak from the pan and transfer to a cutting board to cut into bite size pieces.  Add the onions to the juices left in the pan and cook on low until lightly browned (or turn off the heat in the pan and let the onion brown from the residual heat).

Preheat the oven to 450F.  When the potatoes are ready, strain and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter and mash until very smooth.  Fold in the Monterey Jack and Gruyère cheeses, along with the ham, onion, and eggs.  Grease a 2-qt baking dish (lard works well) and spread the mixture evenly in the dish.  Top with bread crumbs in one layer and then parmesan in a second layer.  Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese bubbles up on the sides. 

To Serve:

Serve hot and enjoy.  Serves 3-4 as a main course, 6-8 as a side.

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Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, Eggs, Meat, Recipes, Side Dish

Celeriac and Potato Mash

Celeriac and Potato Mash

Have you ever seen a celeriac?  If so, then you know that it is a foreboding vegetable, dirty, knobby, and tangled with root-like appendages.  It is not a pretty sight.  We consider ourselves pretty adventurous when it comes to food yet we were still afraid of the celeriac. 

The celeriac and his potato friends

It turns out, that even though it has a pretty rough appearance, the celeriac is really a lovely vegetable.  Underneath all that dirt lies a creamy white interior that is sweet but with a sharpness that is reminiscent of celery.  It tastes very good tossed with olive oil and roasted.  However, if you want something warm and comforting, then make this mash. 

Simmering the roots

The potatoes mellow out the rough edges while the celeriac adds some interest and overtones of sweetness.  The easiest way to prep the celeriac is to wash it well (there will be lots of dirt in your sink) and then use a paring knife to trim off the outside skin.  You can use a peeler but make sure it is super heavy-duty as the outer layer can be tough.  Serve this creamy mash as a side to steak, chops, or chicken and add a little interest to your evening meal.

Celeriac and Potato Mash

Recipe from The Produce Bible


1 medium size celeriac, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces

4 small potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces

2 cups milk

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

Place cut vegetables and milk in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and mash until smooth.  We prefer to use an immersion blender because it makes a very creamy mash very quickly.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve:

Serve immediately.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

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Filed under Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables