Category Archives: Side dishes

Summer Veg (grilled creamed corn and mixed roasted veggies)

DSC_1879
The story of my life:  I’m not sure what I’ve been up to, but I’m sure I’ve been busy.  Part of me actually does like being busy, having a sense of purpose and achievement.  But another part of me hates the part of me that over-glorifies being busy.  I love writing down and subsequently crossing things off a long to-do list, but I hate feeling trapped by the list, not actually caring about the doneness of the things on the list.  Who cares if I bleach the shower curtain?  Or if I put away that load of laundry? It’s just as clean sitting in a pile as it is crammed in a drawer.  Sometimes I’d just rather sit very still and try not to think.

DSC_1980
DSC_1864
That being said, I do hate seeing a garden-grown vegetable go to waste, and summer is my time of excess.  I buy too many ears of corn at the market; the extra zucchini and eggplant in the garden look ignored and miffed in the August sun.  But I’ve found yet more ways to cope with my feelings of ineptitude (“I can’t believe I didn’t make eggplant parmesan with homemade tomato sauce on Friday night instead of pizza!” …Um, no.) and my overflowing crisper/garden.  Case in point: Luisa’s roasted vegetables, which make me feel virtuous.  Peppers! Carrots! Zucchinis! Throw it all in- together.  And that’s the brilliance.  But really, the brilliance is that the dish is amazing up front, but then a generous scoop is fantastic in a pan with a couple of eggs for breakfast, they’re delicious cold as a salad topping, and it’s easily and tastily reheated.   Check out her post here for the jist of it, or see below for my preferred ratio/mix of veggies.

DSC_1975

The second recipe I have to share with you is one for grilled creamed corn.  Do not underestimate how good this corn is, or how much fresh sweet corn a grown person can eat once it’s conveniently removed from the cob.  I’ve made this with 4 ears and we both stand over the pan, scraping up the very ends;  with 5 ears there is a small dish of leftovers that I try to nab for lunch before N does.  It’s a perfect accompaniment to anything grilled, as you grill the ears for 8-10 minutes while it’s heating up on high; then put your meat on, and let the corn rest while the main event is cooking.  About 15 minutes before your other grilled goods are ready to be eaten, slice the corn off the cobs and 5 minutes in the pan delivers a slightly spicy, tangy creamed corn with a hint of charred summer goodness.  It’s like sunshine in a pan.  With carbs.  And dairy. Win-win.

DSC_1969
My preferred method for cutting corn off the cob:  balance the ears on a small upside-down bowl that’s placed inside of a larger flat-bottomed bowl or baking pan (picture here is an 8×8 pan).  You elevate the corn so you can cut all the way down the length of the ear without hitting the side of the dish with your knife blade, but you still catch almost all of your corn nibs! Another great idea: use a bundt pan if you’ve got one.  You’re welcome.

Grilled Creamed Corn
Originally posted in summer 2010; updated and with new pictures

Serves 2-3

5 ears fresh sweet corn
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour (I use a generic glutenfree AP mix)
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. aleppo pepper flakes (or red pepper flakes)
1/8 tsp. cayenne

Shuck the corn and soak for at least 5 minutes, up to 1 hour.  Heat your grill to high.  Place the corn on the grill with the length of the slats, so the corn nestles in between the grill slats.  Grill for 2-3 minutes until the bottom is partially charred and then turn the cob about a quarter of the way; repeat on all sides of the corn, which takes approximately 8-10 minutes, but be sure to keep an eye on it and turn when needed.  Remove from grill and allow to cool.  Once cool enough to handle, cut the corn from the cobs.  Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat; whisk in the flour and allow to cook for about 1 minutes, stirring constantly.  Increase the heat to medium high and slowly pour in the milk and buttermilk, whisking constantly to form a roux.  Once the milk is all in and there are no clumps, stir in the corn, salt, and spices.  Simmer for approximately 5 minutes on medium high heat, stirring almost constantly, crushing some of the corn against the bottom or the sides of the pan with a heavy spoon.  Serve warm.  Excellent reheated as well.

DSC_1989
Summer Veggie Confetti (or, Mixed Roasted Vegetables for Summer)
Serves 2-6, depending on how much you like your veg

Directly from Luisa at The Wednesday Chef, though I like a slightly different ratio of summery veggies, as follows:

1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic  (I use 1 tsp fermented garlic paste)
1 medium tomato
4-6 carrots
1 medium potato
2 small zucchini or summer squash (I like one yellow and one green)
1 small eggplant
1 bell pepper- any color (Luisa calls for red or yellow, but I actually really like a green pepper, or a mix of red and green)
2-3 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher or crunchy salt (less if using table salt)1 tsp. dried herb/spice blend- I like an equal mix of dried basil, sage, thyme, and red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Quarter the onion, then slice thinly.  Mince or crush the garlic.  Dice the remainder of the vegetables into 1/2 inch to 1 inch pieces, not letting any one piece get to be much bigger an an inch.  Toss veggies in a 9×13 baking pan, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and herbs, and carefully mix to combine (careful not to crush the tomatoes too much).  Roast for 40-50 minutes, stirring twice- once after about 25 minutes, and again 10-15 minutes later.  Gorge. Feel virtuous for eating so many veggies. Repeat.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Side dishes, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Easy pickled asparagus

DSC_0772

Spring came late this year.  Maybe you experienced it yourself; otherwise, these whiny posts might’ve clued you in.  No bother – We all still seem to be smitten with the token spring produce players.  Every year, an onslaught of rhubarb, asparagus, ramp, etc. posts flood the internet.  I’m a definite contributor…  and I’m not apologizing.  But the spring season seems so fleeting.  The ramps don’t stick around long, and then asparagus gets woody, stringy, and flavorless.  And with spring quickly turning to summer around here, I wanted to find a way to make that green, grassy joy-flavor stick around a little longer.

DSC_0760

Enter: the pickle.  Frozen and canned asparagus fall apart.  Freezing makes the cell walls burst, causing asparagus to go limp and lifeless.  Canning does the same, except in the form of overcooking.  But pickling…

DSC_0767

Pickling takes that grassy flavor and intensifies it.  It’s also perfect for those big stalks you find at the market a 3 or 4 weeks into the season that seem to be un-cookable when roasting or sauteing, then suddenly are overcooked and bland in the blink of an eye.  I like to blanch the spears briefly before dousing them in the hot vinegar solution, just to make sure each spear is cooked through.  But magically, pickled asparagus keeps some of it’s bite.  I wouldn’t say it’s crunchy… it’s certainly “bendy.”  But it’s also firm, and sliced into a salad or munched alongside an after-work beverage, pickled asparagus is one of my early summer favorites.

DSC_0763

Easy pickled asparagus
Makes 2 – 24oz. jars
Inspired by Simple Bites and She Simmers

*Note: I used the pint-and-a-half wide mouthed jars that are 24 oz. each.  You can certainly use wide mouth pint jars, but you’ll have to trim more of the asparagus bottoms off.  Also be sure to wash your asparagus well in cool water; gritty pickles are the worst.

1.5 pounds asparagus, trimmed to fit jars
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 dried chiles de arbol, or 2 teaspoons dried chile flakes
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon mustard seed

Wash and trim asparagus.  Bring a pot of water to rolling boil and blanch the asparagus (in multiple batches, if needed,) for one minute; rinse with cold water and set aside. Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a pot (I used the same one) and bring to a rapid boil.  While waiting for the mix to boil, put one chile (or one teaspoon chile flakes), one clove of garlic, and 1/2 tablespoon of mustard seeds in each jar.  Then place asparagus in jars.  Once the mix comes to a boil, stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Carefully pour the boiling liquid into the jars, and carefully top with a lid.  Leave at room temperature for 6-8 hours, then move to the fridge to store.
Pickles are ready to be eaten after 24 hours in the fridge, but I let them sit about 48 hours before digging in.

Leave a comment

Filed under Condiments, etc., Side dishes, Summer, Vegetables

Fresh red cabbage slaw

DSC_0459
There are a couple of big things that have happened in the last few weeks.  The first: I think spring might actually have arrived.  Secondly: I apparently now like cilantro.

DSC_0460

The first one is a big deal because IT’S MAY.  The last weekend of April was gorgeous.  Mid-60s and low 70s, sunshine, green grass, even budding tulips and the tips of iris and hostas poking through the mulch.  And then, on May 2nd and 3rd (!) the Midwest got hit with a nasty system that included snow (!) and sleet (!) and freezing rain (!).  Not just a dusting, but 18 inches fell in northwest Wisconsin.  18 freaking inches of white, dream-shattering, soul-crushing snow.

But between the 60s and 70s yesterday and today, the snow has melted, the grass is re-perking, and my rhubarb has unfurled an impossible number of frilly leaves.  Spring is here to stay, I think.

DSC_0467

The second part- the part about me finally coming around to cilantro- is a big deal because, c’mon, it’s cilantro.  It’s fresh.  It’s green.  I can grow it.  It’s a big deal in Mexican and Indian cuisines.  And I’m pleased to say that I actually have bought and used it three whole times in the last two weeks and it’s been awesome.

DSC_0479

I made this slaw to serve with carnitas, and it’s crunch and tanginess was exactly what the tender pork needed.  And after all, the recipe is a bit like the weather we’ve had lately: schizophrenic.  It combines winter staples (cabbage and carrot) with a few fresh things that pack a little more punch in the flavor department (jalapeno, cilantro, and lime).  Even if I have to keep buying cilantro for a another month while the weather warms up (*grumble grumble*), I’m adding cilantro to my seed-purchase list, and I’ll definitely be making this slaw frequently for the summer barbeque circuit.  It took me less than 20 minutes to prep, and it needs only an hour in the fridge to really come together.

Fresh red cabbage slaw
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Pezzo

juice of 2 limes
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 large clove garlic smashed (approximately 1/2 tsp)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Greek yogurt might work?)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1 diced jalapeno (I removed the seeds; keep them for more spice)
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 large or 1 small head of cabbage

In a jar or bowl, whisk together the limes, honey, garlic, mayo, and cilantro. Salt and pepper, and set aside.  Prep the veggies, and thinly slice the cabbage- you want approximately 4 cups of cabbage. Toss all the veggies together in a bowl; dress with the dressing.  Set aside in the fridge for the flavors to develop, at least 1 hour.  Taste before serving and add salt and pepper to taste.

2 Comments

Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Condiments, etc., Gluten-Free, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Molly’s Braised Kale and Spaghetti

Made this last night for supper, and it was good, though incredibly garlicky.  I had some curly kale to use up, and though her recipe calls for lacinato kale, I found that the curly worked well when I braised it a bit longer than the 20 minutes she calls for, with a little bit more liquid too. 

No picture from me- but Molly’s story about kale is a good read (as expected).

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Main dishes, Pasta, Side dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

asparagus risotto

 

This is not just a risotto with some asparagus pieces thrown in at the end- oh no.   This is a risotto swimming in miniscule flecks of asparagus, fully immersed in green and spring.  It’s my favorite kind of asparagus recipe- the kind that embraces the use of the entire stalk.  Instead of throwing out the tougher ends of the stalk [or adding them to the finished risotto to be picked around and pushed off to the side], we cook them a bit and then puree, producing a bright-green bubbly liquid.

Then this asparagus puree is stirred into the risotto, alternated with the traditional chicken stock, stirring and coaxing each little grain of rice to absorb as much of the asparagus- its flavor, nutrition, color- as it can.   A very asparagusy risotto indeed! 


Asparagus risotto
adapted from Mario Batali

Serves 4-6 as a side; 2 or 3 as a meal

1/2 to 3/4 pound asparagus stalks
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1 shallot, diced
1 T. butter
2 t. olive oil
1 cup short-grain rice
3/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan for serving

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, wash asparagus; trim off tough ends and discard.  Chop into 1-inch pieces, setting aside the tips and the pieces from the top two-thirds of the stalks.  Once the water is boiling, toss in the pieces of asparagus from the bottom third of the stalks.  Boil for 4-5 minutes; drain all but 1/4 cup water.  Puree aspargus and 1/4 cup of water in a food processor or blender; set aside.

Place chicken stock in a small saucepan and keep over medium heat.  In a heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter and oil over medium heat.  Sautee diced shallot for 1 minute, then add raw, unrinsed rice.  Sautee for 4-5 minutes, then increase heat to medium-high.  Add wine and stir while reducing. Once wine is mostly absorbed, add the hot stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring almost constantly.  Wait to add more stock until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid.

Once 2 cups of the stock have been added and absorbed, alternate adding 1/2 cup of the asparagus puree and 1/2 cup of chicken stock, again allowing the rice to absorb almost all of the liquid before adding more.  At this point, check the rice frequently, wanting it to be cooked but with a bit of an al dente bite.  Once the risotto is creamy and the rice is fully cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan.

2 Comments

Filed under Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Barley, corn, and roasted red pepper salad

The combination of red pepper and corn equals summer to me. Something about the smooth versus crisp, yellow versus red, sweet and warm versus cool and starchy makes me nostalgic for grilled hamburgers, fire pits, late nights out in the yard and Sunday afternoon lazy get-togethers.

I had barley in my pantry and a hankering for summer, and this is what Google led me to. (Yes, I was inspired by a pregnancy website, but I am not at all pregnant!)  I left out the tomatoes- they’ll have to wait until August.  This will be even better with fresh sweet corn off the cob!

My favorite part of this recipe is the versatility. I scooped it up and inhaled it warm off the stove, picked at it while it was cooling on the counter, and ate it like unashamedly by the bowlful straight out of the fridge.  Warm or cool, this salad is an easy crowd-pleaser.

Barley, corn, and roasted red pepper salad
adapted from What to Expect

Serves 4

*If you’re short on time, you can skip toasting the barley, but the toasting process does really add to the flavor and texture of the dish. Don’t skip if you can help it.

1 medium red bell pepper
1 c. pearl barley
2-1/2 c. chicken broth
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup sliced scallions or diced onion
2 Tbsp lime or lemon juice

First, roast the bell pepper.  Using fire-proof tongs or a long kitchen fork, place bell pepper over a gas flame, or place in an baking dish under a high broiler, and turn until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag or in a covered bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and dice.

While cooling and prepping the red pepper, toast the barley in a large skillet for about 10 minutes on medium-high, shaking the pan often. Add broth to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 30 minutes or until broth is almost absorbed and barley is tender. Add in oil, diced onion and corn kernels; stir and sautee for 10 minutes.

Once onion is translucent and corn is cooked, fold in the diced red pepper and remove from heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes at room temperature, then toss with lime or lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cool.

2 Comments

Filed under Clean Eating, Side dishes, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian

spinach & bacon twice-baked potatoes

Every now and then, I make a conscious effort to feed my husband something more than starches, cheese, or meat.  In this case, it started with spinach.  An innocent thought of spinach…

… that was quickly overrun with starches, cheese, AND meat.

I try my best, people.  At least N loved them– leafy greens and all.

These are the best twice-baked potatoes I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot. Too often twice-baked taters are too cheesy and/or have a runny or thin texture. These guys are creamy AND chunky, thanks to the sour cream and only stirring the filling once; overstirring will break down the potato more and more, until you’re left with mashed potatoes instead of slightly-mashed potatoes. Oh yes, there’s a difference. :)

Small florets of cooked broccoli or cauliflower could easily be substituted for the spinach. The bacon could be skipped altogether, but then you might want to add a little salt to the filling.  Also feel free to add more cheese to the top if that’s your thing.

Spinach and bacon twice-baked potatoes
adapted from Food.com

2 large or 3 medium-sized baking potatoes
2 slices bacon
1/3 c sour cream
1 small or 1/2 large shallot
6 oz. fresh or frozen spinach (approximate)
3 oz. mozzarella or cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400.  Scrub potatoes, then make large slits across the skins, as if marking where to cut them in half lengthwise without actually cutting the potato in half.  Wrap in foil and bake until done through, about 1 hour. (This can be done before and potatoes can be stored in the foil in the fridge for a day or two.)

Heat a small skillet on medium-high and fry the bacon to your liking.  Meanwhile, cut the potatoes in half where you had previously marked them.  Scoop out the insides of the baked potatoes into a medium bowl; add the sour cream, but don’t stir yet.  Once the bacon is fried, drain on paper towels and chop into bite-sized or smaller pieces, and put into the bowl with the potatoes.  Finely dice the shallot and fry it in the bacon grease for just a minute or two, and then dump into the potato bowl.  If using fresh spinach, wilt it in the same pan;  if using frozen, just break it up a bit. Add the spinach to the bowl. Coarsely grate the cheese and add 1/2 of it to the bowl. Finally, take a large fork and mix all of this wonderful stuff together, smashing the largest potato pieces but not completely mashing them to smittereens.

Heat the oven to 350.  Lay the potato skin shells on a baking sheet and fill them generously with the potato mixture.  Grind a bit of black pepper over the top and then top with the remaining shredded cheese.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese on top is bubbly and the potatoes are heated through.

1 Comment

Filed under Gluten-Free, Side dishes, Vegetables, Winter