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side dish

Green Beans with Coconut Curry Peanut Sauce

 Green Beans with Coconut Thai Curry Peanut Sauce

Thai coconut curry forever remains one of my mealtime mainstays.

On my stove at least twice a month, it’s one of the simplest and tastiest ways to load up on broccoli, bok choy, mushrooms, and other garden goodness.

But for this particular rendition, I chose to focus on one ingredient — green beans, a veggie that rarely lets me down.

Green Beans with Coconut Thai Curry Peanut Sauce

The sauce here is thin enough that you could serve this over rice. To make it a full meal, fry up some tofu to toss on the side.

But it’s truly a delicious side all on its own. You can spoon up all that sauce, no rice needed. And if you have any extra, use it as a dip for steamed broccoli or to top soba or rice noodles.

Thai Curry Peanut Sauce

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Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Guys. Gals.

Yesterday I received some incredible news.

I’m going to have a garden plot in one of my favorite community gardens in Philadelphia!! I have been dreaming of this day since I first laid eyes many years ago on the magical oasis currently plopped right in the center of what’s now my neighborhood. It’s dreamy. And green. And filled with dirt, and creatures, and veggies, and all the other outdoor components I miss often from my farmer days.

Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Spaces like these are in hot demand in the city, which of course is no surprise. Generally, they’re locked down with a waiting list so full of names that you could’ve moved to three other towns within the time that they call your name.

Luckily, my roommate and amigo has had her name on that list for three years. And yesterday, she got THE call. I moved into her house a few months ago, and am thrilled to have stumbled into this situation. I am more than excited to scheme up how we are going to takeover the world…I mean, this new 10×10 foot of land.

Roasted Carrots

This was obvious reason to celebrate, and what better way to celebrate a new garden than with roasted carrots? (I would also argue these veggie tats are an excellent source of celebration. But that’s aside the point.)

One of my favorite veggies to grow is carrots because they simply taste 10 times better from the ground than they do from the plastic bags you get at the supermarket.

That thought has me chowing down on this light and healthy pilaf, rich in flavor and salty, feta + sunflower seed goodness. That saltiness gets balanced with a touch of sweetness, derived from both caramelized onions and earthy carrots, to create a well-rounded side dish or lunch.

Sure, those carrots pictured above are from Trader Joe’s…but this recipe’s in honor of my carrot-filled dreams and optimism for spring, when I’ll be eating out of my own garden. Cheers to that!

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Fresh Carrot Slaw

Fresh Carrot Slaw

I could eat carrots for breakfast (in the form of carrot cake – mandatorily topped with cream cheese icing), lunch, and dinner. Dessert too, if we’re circling back to breakfast here. It’s my veggie snack of choice. Straight up raw. No baby business. Colored in shades of red or purple, if I’m feeling extra fancy.

Fresh Carrot Slaw

As warm weather falls upon us, raw carrots become a pleasantly light and refreshing snack all on their own. If you’re like me, that goes for all year around, too.

However, if for some reason you’re not quite as enthused about acting under the constant facade of Bugs Bunny – or simply want a nicer side dish for your just grilled burger – other options abound. Take this carrot slaw, for example, filled with several depths of flavor, yet still every bit as fresh as a just picked and rinsed carrot from the ground. This slaw keeps it raw, but also keeps it chic.

Fresh Carrot Slaw

This time of year, I like to serve this alongside a meal straight from the grill. Think grilled tuna burgers with spicy mayo, or jalapeño black bean burgers with mango salsa, or a sesame crusted tofu. Grilled or not, think Aloha-inspired recipes or Asian-fusion cuisine. Whatever that happens to mean…

Spring bloom

Feel free to play with the herbs here, depending on what you have, or looks fresh. Also, make sure to toast the walnuts. To do so, simply heat up a cast iron pan (or saute pan, if you don’t own cast iron) over medium-high. Without greasing the pan, add the walnuts straight to the hot surface, and toast until fragrant and edges are browned, stirring regularly.

Fresh Carrot Slaw

Share your favorite light & healthy spring/summer veggie sides in the comments. Would love to hear what you’ve been cooking up lately!

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Rosemary Garlic Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Word is that rosemary can boost your memory, according to a recent study presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Harrogate. It’s being speculated that the eucalyptol compound within the herb has an affect on the brain and our memory systems. I’ll take it. A little freshening up never hurt my brain, especially when it results in a bonus for my tastebuds too.

Regardless of its potential magical powers, I’ve always loved the natural fragrance of rosemary. In honesty, I don’t utilize it enough. I think this is largely because rosemary’s most often paired with meats. But of course it goes well with vegetarian cuisine too, crispy potatoes especially.

I absolutely adore this simple combination, and as mentioned in previous posts, can never get enough of roasted garlic. I contributed this dish for a family dinner the other week. As straightforward as it is, it surprisingly got a round of comments from the table. I was worried it’d be masked by all the other seemingly elaborate dishes on the table. There’s something about potatoes, however, that nearly always bring high fives.

Healthier, and much more elegant, than a deep-fried french fry, this is a classic side suited for numerous occasions. I always opt for a red-skinned potato for the touch of color they add to the bowl, but feel free to experiment with other varieties.

Red Curry Coconut Braised Collards

Red Curry Coconut Braised Collards
Eating a whole bag of potato chips in one sitting = not good. Eating a whole bunch of collards for dinner = I’ll take it.
What started out as an intention for an improvisational side, turned into a dinner full of greens. This saucy bowl of collards was that good.

Now I’m not saying that this was necessarily a balanced meal. But cut me a break. It was no drive-thru bowl of junk food. I’ve been getting into coconut milk lately, which while, yes, is best in moderation, can really enhance a dish with a natural creamy sweetness. A little can go a long way, so if planning to actually serve this as a side, consider freezing the remainder of your milk for another time. I had about a half a can left, which led me to discover that coconut milk freezes quite well. Although, you may consider doubling the recipe instead.

The slightly sweet and spicy sauce that engulfs these greens would undoubtedly lend itself to other vegetables as well. However, packed with vitamins A, C, K and folate, along with a dairy-free dose of calcium, too, I might suggest going with collard greens for at least the first test drive.