Savory, Sides

Sauteed Mushrooms and Spinach

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Now that it is grilling season, I am spending most of the time making sides and salads to go with whatever protein is being cooked on the grill.  This is a quick and hearty side dish that will pair really well with a nice steak.  This side dish is good at any time of year so consider it for your holiday meals as well!

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Ingredients:

4 oz of mixed mushrooms (scale up for a larger portion)

1 cup of fresh baby spinach leaves

2 Tbsp of olive oil

1 medium shallot, sliced

1/4 tsp of minced garlic

2 tsp of soy sauce

1 tsp of balsamic vinegar

a pinch of nutmeg

cracked black pepper to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a large skillet and add shallots and mushrooms.  Sautee on medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes till the vegetables start to soften.

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Add the minced garlic, nutmeg, and spinach.  Continue to sautee as the spinach wilts.

Finish the dish with soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.  Add liquid and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom on the skillet.  Continue to saute till all the liquid evaporates, about 1-2 minutes.

Taste the veggies and add additional salt the (sodium levels will depend on the type of soy sauce you use) and cracked black pepper.  I add a lot of pepper because that is the way we like it.

Serve piping hot with a juicy steak!

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Savory, Sides

Foolproof Popovers

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Popovers would be best described as the New England cousin of the English Yorkshire pudding.  My first introduction to popovers was in college when we would go to a local restaurant called Judie’s.  I have fond memories of Judie’s popovers with apple butter.  Being a New England native, my husband too loves popovers.  So much so, that we had them at our wedding.  It was important to have a recipe for popovers and I had stumbled across this many years ago while watching FoodNetwork.  Ever since then, I have been following the recipe to the “t” and it is truly foolproof!  You can find the recipe here

 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons melted butter, divided

2 eggs

1 cup milk, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave (should be lukewarm to warm)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt ( I add some black pepper too)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Using a pastry brush, coat 6 muffin cups (I like the muffin tins that are made for extra-large muffins) with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and put the tin in the oven for 5 minutes.  I like to cut up 1 tbsp of butter and divide it into the cups, melt them in the oven while it is pre-heating.  Then I use a brush to coat the cups with the melted butter.

 

Meanwhile, mix the eggs in a blender until light yellow.

 

Add the warmed milk and blend. Add the flour, salt, and remaining melted butter, and blend until smooth.

 

Pour the batter into the warmed muffin tin.  Try to divide the batter evenly amongst each tin to yield popovers that are the same size.

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Return it to the oven to bake until golden, about 35 minutes.  It is critical to NOT OPEN THE OVEN during the baking process

Remove from the oven and serve warm.

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Appetizers, Savory, Sides

Zucchini Fritters

 

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In India, on a raw, rainy night, you will often find family members gathered over hot cups of tea and plate of piping hot fried fritters.  These fritters are usually vegetarian, like potato, onion, and eggplant (all separate–not mixed together).  Yesterday, a beautiful sunny spring day turned into a gloomy, rainy evening–which led me to crave fried food.  I could have pulled out some samosas, but I have zucchini in the fridge that needed to be used.  Also, earlier in the day, I came across this recipe in Cooking Light magazine, so it must have been a combination of all these different sensory inputs (haha, can you tell I am a biologist?) that led to this recipe.

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchinis, grated and drained

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 small onion, minced

1 egg

2 Tbsp of flour

1 Tbsp of rice flour

1/2 tsp of salt

A dash of black pepper

1 tsp of olive oil for the batter plus more for frying

Method:

Grate and or chop finely the zucchini.  If you have a food processor, you can grate it.  I have a handheld grater which almost pulverizes the zucchini.  So, for some texture I grated one and chopped the other–the different textures give the fritters some body.

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Place the zucchini on a paper towel or dishcloth and let it drain for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

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Squeeze out all the water and add the zucchini to a mixing bowl.

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Add egg, flours, salt, pepper, jalapenos, and oil to the zucchini and mix thoroughly.

Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a skillet.  Using a tablespoon, gently dollop the batter into the hot oil.  Using the back of the spoon, flatten out the dollops to form a pancake shape.

Fry on medium-high to high heat for 2-3 minutes or till golden brown.  Then flip the fritters and cook the other side.

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Blot the fritters on a paper towel and serve piping hot!  This makes a great evening snack or a hearty side dish for a simple chicken dinner.

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Savory, Sides

Roasted Broccoli Rabe

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This is a quick side dish that tastes great with seafood.  Leftovers are great in a sandwich or chopped up in pasta.  It also happens to be a super easy recipe; in fact, it really isn’t a recipe at all!  Here is how I make it.  Substitute with fresh broccoli florets if you can’t find broccoli rabe.

Preheat oven to 350F

Cut up two small bunches of broccoli rabe and arrange on a baking sheet.

Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

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Roast for 15-20 mins till golden brown.

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Side dish sorted!

Comfort food, Savory, Sides

Perfect Pee-wee Potatoes

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Alright, I did not come up with the name.  The sack of potatoes actually had these tiny potatoes labeled as “pee-wee”.  I can not take credit for the cute name, but I certainly fell for the marketing ploy in the store !!!

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This recipe is a no-brainer, but I have learned that it is easy to mess it up.  So after a few trials,  I believe I have come up with the perfect recipe for roasted potatoes

Ingredients:

2 cups of the tiny potatoes, sliced length-wise

2 Tbsp of olive oil

3/4 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of pepper

1 Tbsp of fresh chopped parsley (you can omit this)

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Method:

Preheat oven to 400F

Slice the potatoes lengthwise.  Mix them with salt, pepper and olive oil.

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Take a dark metal pan–this is important, you need good heat conduction and line it with tin foil.

Empty the potatoes on to the lined baking sheet along with every last little bit of the oil-salt-pepper mixture.  You will need the oil for the potatoes to get golden and crispy.

Arrange the potatoes cut-side down–this step is important.  You want the cut-side to turn golden brown. Dumping the potatoes in a pile (like I used in the past) will steam the potatoes and only a few pieces will crisp up.  You will note in the picture below, I accidentally started adding the parsley.  I had to stop myself, not that it would ruin the potatoes, it’s just that fresh parsley tastes better as a garnish.

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Bake for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, the potatoes will be tender but they will not be browned.  At this point, you can continue to roast the potatoes for an additional 10 minutes at 400F.  For my particular oven/sheet pan combination, I found that reducing the temperature to 375F and cooking the potatoes for an additional 15 minutes is ideal.

At the end of the cook-time, pull the potatoes out and let them rest for a  full minute.  This will make it easier for you to lift the potatoes off of the tin foil.

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Sprinkle with parsley (and additional salt if you want some more) and serve.  These are wonderful as finger food appetizers, but they taste best with a nice piece of juicy steak!

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Savory, Sides

Oven-baked Zucchini Sticks

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Super easy side dish that is healthy and flavorful.  It is just different enough to make it taste special too.  With only 5-ingredients, this recipe could become your go to zucchini recipe.  It tastes almost like fries so picky eaters may enjoy them.

Ingredients:

2 small zucchinis, cut into sticks

1/2 tsp of lemon pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp of Italian seasoned  breadcrumbs

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 F

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and spread on a lined, rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.

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Bake for 15-20 mins and finish off by broiling on high for 2 mins.

Serve hot with ketchup and/or hot sauce !

Savory, Sides

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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A recipe for a super simple side.  In fact, it is hardly a recipe since I never measure the ingredients.   It also has also appealed to the palette of a certain “non-sweet-potato-fan”.  Give it a shot, maybe the even the pickiest of eaters in your house will enjoy it!

Things you will need:

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3 large sweet potatoes, cubed

Olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, pumpkin pie spice (or Cinnamon) and smoked paprika (use as much of each as you like).  I am heavy handed with the paprika–it is such a striking contrast to the sweetness from the potato and the honey.

Mix all the ingredients together.

Spread on a tin-foil lined baking sheet

Bake at 400F for 20-25mins, till the sweet potatoes are brown and soft

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Serve as a side or toss into a salad.

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Savory, Sides

Oven Roasted Okra

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A side dish or snack—simple, healthy and pays tribute to fried okra.  I like it hot from the oven with some spicy salsa.

Ingredients:

1lb of fresh okra, diced (frozen does not crisp up well)

1 tbsp of water, cornmeal and white poppy seeds

2tbsp of oil

salt, pepper and chilli powder according to taste

spicy, chunky salsa for serving!

Method:

Chop the okra and put in a bowl.

 

Add water, cornmeal, poppy seeds and seasonings.  Toss to combine and coat.

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Coat a cast-iron skillet with oil and add the okra.

Roast for 20 mins at 400F.  Halfway through roasting, stir and toss the okra a little bit.

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Serve hot!

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Sides

Saffron Quinoa with Black Beans and Sage Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

1 cup tri-colored quinoa, rinsed

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 pinch of saffron

1 can of black beans

3 cups of cubed butternut squash

2 tsp of dry sage

1 tsp of chilli powder

2 tbsp of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Add rinsed quinoa to chicken broth and saffron and pinch of salt.  Cook quinoa.

Once quinoa is cooked, add rinsed black beans.

In the mean time toss squash in olive oil, salt, pepper, sage and chilli powder and spread on a cookie sheet

Roast at 400F for 20mins, till cooked through and golden.

Toss squash with quinoa and black beans and garnish with chopped scallions.

Fish & Seafood, Lent, Salad, Sides

Pesto Shrimp Salad with Roasted Artichokes, Fennel and White Beans

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A warm salad for a cool summer evening.  if you are not a fan of shrimp or allergic to shellfish, chicken would be a great substitute. It would be perfectly fine without any animal protein at all ! Eat it like a salad for lunch, side dish for something off the grill or toss is with pasta, this is a light and lovely meal !

Ingredients:

1lb cooked shrimp

1 package frozen artichokes, thawed and drained

2 bulbs of fennel, sliced

1 can of white beans

juice of one lemon

10 basil leaves, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp of minced garlic

2 tsp of red pepper flakes

1/4 store bought basil pesto

salt and pepper to taste

Methods:

Preheat oven to 375F

Toss oil, fennel, artichokes, basil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic in a bowl and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet

Roast for 45mins till fennel and artichokes and brown.

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In a pot, heat pesto and toss in beans and shrimp.

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Add the roasted vegetables and toss to coat all the ingredients together.

Serve hot or warm !