Posts Tagged 'side dish'

Crunchy Noodle Salad

This is a bit of a misnomer…the noodles in this recipe are not crunchy, rather the other veggie-related ingredients are the crunchy part!

Start by boiling half a pound of thin spaghetti in salted water. Try using a bigger pot and more water than I did! hehe

In a large bowl, layer the ingredients. I had dry parsley on hand, so I put that at the bottom…so it could recontitute with the moisture from the other ingredients. If you’re using fresh, put it at the top!

Next, the al dente thin spaghetti and the blanched sugar snap peas. If you’ve snapped off the ends and removed any strings, there will be water trapped inside the sugar snap peas, so be sure to drain them well!

While the spaghetti was cooking, I chopped the veggies: orange, red, and yellow bell peppers and scallions on the diagonal.

Throw those in too.

Grate the ginger on a small grater or microplane. You can just get the thin skin off with a spoon or the back of a knife (even a butter knife!)…no need to cut it away and waste the ginger.

I usually like to shake dressing and marinades in a jar or plastic container. It combines it much easier and faster than whisking…and washing whisks are a pain anyway…

Just before serving, toss the dressing with the noodle salad. Toss in the remaining sesame seeds and fresh parsley if you’re using it. I wouldn’t dump ALL the dressing in. Two-thirds was enough for me.

See? Just saucy enough!


I followed Ina Garten’s (Barefoot Contessa) menu and served this with Eli’s Asian Salmon (next blog). BIG mistake because there was wyyy too much flavor going on. This noodle salad is best served with a simple grilled meat (maybe chicken, flank steak, or shrimp).

You can make the dressing and arrange the salad ahead of time, but don’t mix them together until you’re ready to eat! The dressing would surely make the noodles mushy!

Feel free to add any veggies you like or have on hand that you think would be tasty…green bell peppers, blanched snow peas, red onion, bean sprouts, blanched green beans (cut into 1-inch pieces), julienned carrots, etc.

Crunchy Noodle Salad
Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa
Episode IG0803H

Kosher salt
1/2 pound thin spaghetti
1 pound sugar snap peas
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds, divided
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded, and thinly sliced
4 scallions (with and green parts), sliced diagonally
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil, add the sugar snap peas, return to a boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp tender. Lift the sugar snap peas from the water with a slotted spoon and immerse them in a bowl of ice water. Drain.

For the dressing, whisk together the vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and peanut butter in a medium bowl.

Combine the spaghetti, sugar snap peas, peppers and scallions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti mixture. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and the parsley and toss together.

A Weeknight Indian Dinner

I had a hankering for Indian food for a weeknight dinner, so I headed to the pantry to see what I could find.

I had to keep this one “semi-homemade”, but I wanted to be healthy too. Here’s my take on a super-duper simple chicken dish…think, Chicken Masala Light…

Saute one chopped onion until soft & translucent.

Add two chopped tomatoes and saute some more.

Add three tablespoons of garam masala, which is  a spice mix containing bay leaf, coriander, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili, and more…You can definitely find it on the aisles of regular grocery stores these days. Saute for another 5 minutes or so…this “frying” of the spices really draws out the flavors.

Add 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces. Saute until meat is opaque.

Add 2 cups of water.

Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens.

Serve over rice.

The rice I used was a “Spiced Jeera Rice mix”, which was basmati rice seasoned with cumin, bay leaves, black pepper, and cinnamon. Plain basmati rice would have worked well here, or even just jasmine rice.

Another dish that I am enamored with is palak paneer. Paneer is basically chunks of cottage cheese, but it does not taste like cottage cheese at all. It is cooked in a spiced spinach gravy, flavored with coriander, garlic, ginger, green chili, cumin, coriander leaves, cumin, turmeric, red chili, Fenugreek leaves, pepper, and other spices.

It looks like baby food, but is completely delicious. This pre-packaged, ready-to-eat version is more pureed than I like it, but if you ever get the chance to eat this at an Indian restaurant, please do! Spoon it on the basmati rice. Yummm.

Zucchini Cakes

Yet another Pioneer Woman blog find. I needed a second side dish for the Memorial Day grilling Fest and these Zucchini Cakes looked too yummy to pass up!

I doubled the recipe and made much smaller, silver-dollar-pancake-sized ones fit for a party!

Get two big zucchinis and shred them on a box grater. Are those two humongous zucchinis? Or is that a tiny box grater? Both! I don’t own a box grater, so I borrowed my sister’s. Apparently she shops at a kitchen store for ants because that thing was itty-bitty.

Here’s a tip. Only trim off the rounded end and shred starting at that end. Once you get to the other end, you’ll have a handle to hold onto!

Now you’ve got a sopping wet mess of shredded zucchini. I worked in two batches, placing the shredded zucchini in a kitchen towel and squeezed the heck out of it.

Throw that in a bowl with the garlic, 1-1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, 1 cup of cheese, 4 eggs (I used Egg Beaters), salt and pepper.

Get out a big skillet and heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in it. I know the recipe calls for shallow-frying, but I was trying to be healthy AND I hate dealing with all the oil splattering everywhere.

Scoop the zucchini batter into the skillet, whatever size you want, but mine were about 1/8 cup each. Fry on medium-low on each side until golden. Keeping frying in batches until all batter is used, adding more oil as needed.

Serve with ranch dressing or maybe even marinara sauce. Enjoy!

The end result was a little too egg-y. This was probably because the Egg Beaters carton told me that 1 egg = 1/4 cup, which looked more like an extra large egg. Most recipes are referring to just large eggs by default, so I’d cut back on the egg if I were you.

If you’re in the market for a different zucchini-related appetizer, here’s one from Betty Crocker that I LOVE!! It’s basically like a crustless quiche. It is even simpler to make than the zucchini cakes.

Zucchini Appetizer
From Betty Crocker

3 cups thinly sliced unpeeled zucchini (4 small)
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix (I like the Heart Healthy kind)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry’s)
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano leaves
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, slightly beaten (or 1 cup of Egg Beaters)

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom and sides of rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.

2. Stir together all ingredients. Spread in pan.

3. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into 2-inch squares; cut squares diagonally in half into triangles.

I’ll probably make this recipe soon, so I’ll have a tutorial with pictures coming up!

Roasted Ricotta Roma Tomatoes

That’s a lot of alliteration! I was browsing through my blogs on Google Reader and came across this recipe on Pioneer Woman.

Memorial day was coming up and it seemed like an awesome side dish to accompany all the grilled foods.

Start with 7-9 Roma tomatoes, depending on the size. Seven if they’re on the big side, eight or nine if they’re on the small side. Scoop out their innards with a spoon and discard (unless you can find a use for it. I couldn’t.)

Sprinkle each one with a bit of sea salt or Kosher salt. This will serve two purposes. It’ll season the tomato and it will purge out the excess water, which will make a BIG difference when you’re roasting. Turn them cut side down on paper towels or a kitchen towel.

While the tomatoes are purging, make the ricotta mixture. Stir together the ricotta (16 oz container), garlic (I used pre-chopped), parsley, basil (I used dried), salt & pepper.

Place about 15 Ritz crackers in a Ziplock baggie and roll over it with a rolling pin until you’ve got crumbs. You can also just use breadcrumbs (homemade or store bought). I like the crackers because they’re nice and buttery.

Fill each tomato half with the ricotta mixture. You can level it off or mound it on, depending on how your tomato-to-ricotta ratio turned out. Smush each filled tomato into the crumbs.

Line them all up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

If you didn’t purge your tomatoes, they’d be swimming in tomato juices right now!

But you did purge them and they’re golden, creamy, and delicious!

Roasted Cauliflower

I had a head of cauliflower sitting in my fridge. My normal go-to would be a cauliflower curry, but I wanted something different. Last weekend, my sister and I lunched at Fadi’s, one of my favorite Mediterranean eateries. I convinced her to try the roasted cauliflower and she really liked it. I know that some other Mediterranean restaurants deep fry their cauliflower, which is also uber-delicious…so golden, crisp, and yummy!

Here is my weeknight take on this awesome side dish:

Turn the cauliflower over and cut off all the leaves and the excess stem. Wash it, pat it dry, and then I use a paring knife to cut off the florets.

Cut them into manageable pieces. The smaller the pieces, the more surface area you’ll have for getting it nice and golden.

The cauliflower looked awful lonely, so I sliced up half an onion and threw ’em on there too.

Drizzle olive oil all over it. Don’t be shy. Then get in there with your hands and make sure each and every piece of cauliflower and onion is coated.

Generously sprinkle on the kosher/sea salt. Maybe about 1-1/2 tablespoons.

Roast for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Toss it around and then bake for another 15 minutes.

It doesn’t beat the deep fried version, but it is certainly delicious and (mostly) nutritious!

Fontina Scalloped Potatoes

I was heading to a pot luck dinner and was tasked with a side dish.

Everyone likes potatoes and cheese! I like this particular recipe because most of the cooking is done on the stove and it’s just finished off in the oven.

First, dice up an onion…

Melt the butter and cook the onion in it. Then throw in the thyme (I used dried), garlic (from a jar…shame on me), and S&P.

Peel & slice the potatoes. It says “thick”, but I like mine about 1/4″ thick.

In the same pot with the sauteed onion mixture, pour in the cream & broth. Then slide the potatoes into the hot tub.

Cover & simmer until potatoes are tender. Then dump all of it into a baking dish. The recipe calls for an 8-inch square dish, but I used a 9 X 13 dish. I like more surface area on the top for maximum browning and crisping…

I was kinda rough with the potatoes as I was dumping it into the dish, so you can see that a lot of the pieces are broken and it looks really ugly, but that’s nothing that the cheese can’t cover up!

Shred up some fontina cheese. If you can find it already shredded, more power to ya, but I couldn’t find any.

Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake at 425 degrees until golden and bubbly.

Fontina Scalloped Potatoes

Adapted from The Food Channel


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced, pressed, or from a jar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds (about 5 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)…or more…


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds.

Add potatoes, broth and cream and heat to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of a potato slice with some resistence), about 10 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 X 13 baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake until the cream is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Cool slightly before serving.

Corn & Green Chili Casserole

This has got to be one of my all-time favorite side dishes. It is crispy on top, creamy inside, cheesy, and has a southwestern flair from the green chilies..Yumm…

The recipe:

2 eggs

1 can of creamed corn & 1 can of drained corn kernels

4 oz can of diced green chilies & 8 oz sour cream

1/2 onion, diced & 1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix

1-1/2 C shredded cheddar & 1/2 stick of melted butter

Put it in a 9X13 baking dish or two smaller ones (sprayed with Pam)

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. I par-baked this one for only 30 minutes so that I could transport it to my parents and finish it off in their oven before serving.


Corn & Green Chili Casserole

2 eggs
1 can of creamed corn
1 can of drained corn kernels
4 oz can of diced green chilies
8 oz sour cream
1/2 onion, diced
1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1-1/2 C shredded cheddar
1/2 stick of melted butter

Mix all ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

You do not have to mix the ingredients in steps. Just throw it all together. You can omit the onions if you’re weird about onions, but honestly, you do not taste them. They just add to the over all moist & creamy texture. You can also use other types of shredded cheese…maybe colby, pepperjack, etc…Might also be a good idea to top the casserole with 1/2 C. of cheese…You can’t ever have too much cheese.


May 2020