Main Dishes, Sides

146

Black Rice Pasta Salad (V, GF)

I got really into black rice pasta this summer. What started out recipe testing for variations on Pad Thai turned into so much more. The texture and flavor is different from pasta, but not in the least bit unpleasant way! Basically, it’s really rad. Obviously like normal pasta it’s extremely versatile, and can be enjoyed hot or cold, but I don’t know, there’s something about one’s pasta being roughly the color of asphalt that’s very inspiring, food-wise. It leads to a great many OBD’s (see definition and subsequent rant about dinner dishes here). This dish is essentially a conflation of several OBD’s I planned on making over a recent weekend. I started with the idea of making a broccoli slaw, but upon realization I was lacking in mayo and plain yogurt -and had no desire to walk to the store because it was raining, even less yearning to experiment with making my own mayo- decided I would do a mustard based slaw. Then that turned into a mustard ginger soy sauce. Which led me to slice in a few carrots and sesame seeds and boom! It was delicious! But a little lacking in terms of a full meal. So the perfect compliment to the flavors all up in my slaw was obviously black rice pasta! Of which I have seven -yes, seven– packets. I’m honestly not sure how or why I have so many. I think every time I go to Whole Foods I put a package or two of it in my cart, forgetting about the others I still have yet to eat. But I’m not complaining.

So backing up to making the broccoli slaw. I bought my broccoli at a tiny local market in town that sources a lot of local produce. So when I opened the farmer-not-machine-plastic-wrapped vegetable and began to rinse my broccoli I noticed something in the sink that was broccoli colored, but not broccoli. It was a little green bug. Here’s something about me: I don’t like bugs. I really don’t like bugs. I don’t like bugs so much that when I see one in my room I tape my windows shut, which is probably terrible because fresh air is more important than a few critters on my wall, but as I mentioned I really don’t like bugs. So imagine my reaction to the little green inchworm making its home in my vegetable. Yeah. My friends convinced me that this was a good thing: that the broccoli was picked and packaged and arrived at the market so recently that the little creature managed to stay alive means it’s super fresh. That it means the farmer who grew the vegetable very likely doesn’t use harmful pesticides in their crops. That at the very least, it’s protein, right? Um. Cut to me soaking the broccoli in salt water for a while, then spritzing it all over with veggie wash, then bathing it in cold water, then hot water. I mean, it WAS $4 I wasn’t going to get back. And also I’m fairly certain if I’d run back to the market hoping for a refund I would’ve gotten a “who’s this city girl upset about her garden-fresh broccoli? She probably uses a lot of hand sanitizer and eats yogurt with aspartame” kind of look.  I’m not that girl, I swear! I just…prefer to get my daily protein from, y’know, beans and quinoa, not multi-legged inch-long critters. Suffice it to say, this was an ordeal (read: I live in the first world with a good dose of privilege, in case you couldn’t already tell from the fact that I write a food blog and am enrolled in college). This is an example of an ordeal in my sheltered life and probably not the best thing for me to be upset about. But anyway. I ate the broccoli and lived to tell the tale. I did not get some sort of bug-to-broccoli-to-mouth illness, and if anything, now I really know how to wash a vegetable. This probably means I should be a farmer when I grow up, right?

PS- if you’re not into black rice pasta/can’t find it, this salad would be just as good with soba noodles, which I’ve been able to find at most grocery stores (though they’re made from buckwheat, not rice, just so we have the facts straight)! But honestly, any noodles would work in this! Pasta rocks!

Salad (serves 1 but easily doubled, tripled, etc.)

1 bundle black rice noodles (I use these)

2 c broccoli

1/2 shallot, minced

2 carrots, peeled

Dressing

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp. dijon mustard

1/2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp grated ginger

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper

squeeze lime or lemon

Toasted sesame seeds

Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside. Combine the first seven ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar, give it a good shake (with the lid on!!), and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler or a mandoline slicer slice up the carrots and bottom part (stem? trunk?) of broccoli. Give the top part of the broccoli a rough chop and place in a bowl with the shallot. Add pasta and dressing, then toss everything together. Top with a squeeze of citrus and sesame seeds!

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Main Dishes, Sides

143

Quinoa Tabbouleh (V, GF)

Tabbouleh is easily one of my favorite foods. It’s pretty strange, because I actually have a habit of saying of I’m not a big fan of parsley or tomatoes (ingredients that make up about 7/8 of this recipe) but there’s just something about tabbouleh. It changes singular ingredients into one wonderful magical thing. Tomatoes are no longer tomatoes. Parsley is no longer parsley. Everything is tabbouleh. Okay this is getting a little Dadaist for me so I’m just going to move on. My journey this year is to put together as many one bowl dinners as I can, in hopes of fulfilling my ultimate quest: to wash less than five dishes/silverware/cups a day. It’s not working out so well, but hey, it’s only been like a month in the land-of-no-dishwasher! I’ll get there! I’ve already made a few one bowl dishes, but was so hungry I didn’t bother photographing them..oops. But in hopes of getting my readers as excited about these OBD’s -get it?- as I am, here are a few I’ve made and definitely have my stamp of approval (side note- who misses How I Met Your Mother as much as I do?):

These barbeque baked lentils are making me so glad I sprung for a 2-gallon mason jar’s worth of french lentils in bulk at Whole Foods.

Who says it needs to be breakfast time to eat steel cut oat and quinoa cereal? It lasts for days and is delicious hot or cold!

I don’t know if you’d call this a full OBD, but this mustardy carrot slaw was AWESOME (and got even awesomer after I diced a gala apple up in there too).

Eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce (the first recipe in this big list o’ sandwiches) is all I’ve ever wanted. I didn’t have any pita, as I have yet to sneakily liberate some from a dining hall acquire some in an ethically sound manner, but it was just as delicious in a bowl with sliced avocado.

And now here are some I really want to make in the near future:

This Thai sweet potato soup is making me wish it could get colder so I can eat it all.

I love romesco and I can’t believe I have yet to put it on a pizza with chickpeas and kalamata olives. (Oh and also the Lunch Box Fund is super important you can read more on that too by clicking ^ link.)

If poutine is made with sweet potatoes and is vegan it’s healthy right? But there is a real chance I will add cheese to this when I make it. I can’t help it.

There’s literally nothing I like more than a big ass salad with kale and veggies and protein (because it’s a never ending meal and I am a notorious scarfer. Seriously. You should see me with sushi. There’s honestly no point in using a plate because it’s gone in 45 seconds).

Stay tuned for more, but in the meantime, y’all ready for some quinoa? The lighting was a dream come true for food photography..

Tabbouleh (serves 8-10 as a side, 3-4 as a main; from The Kitchn)

1 c uncooked quinoa

1/2 medium red onion, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 to 2 c minced fresh parsley

1/2 c minced fresh mint

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice + extra

1 + tbsp red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to tasta

8 oz feta (optional)

Rinse the quinoa well and place in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn the heat down to medium low and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes, then transfer to a glass bowl or baking tray to cool.

Meanwhile, soak the chopped onion in a bowl of cold water to lessen their bite (this is my new favorite trick because I love raw onions but they’re always a little too strong). Place the chopped tomatoes, parsley, mint, and garlic in a large bowl. When the quinoa is cool, drain the onions and add both the bowl.

In a small bowl whisk together minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour over salad and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your preferences! In my opinion, this salad only gets better as time passes; the dressing really soaks into the quinoa. Before serving, add a squeeze of fresh lemon and feta! Serve with pita or lentil chips and hummus!

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Main Dishes, Sides

126

Not-Your-Standard Tuna Salad

Since summer is now in full swing, it’s time to wake up the standard picnic basket, starting with tuna. Now, I know there is quite a bit of controversy over this particular fish, but it’s something I like to have once or twice a month and I’m still alive. But maybe I already have mercury poisoning and I don’t know it (I live on the edge, obviously). We’ll just ignore that for the time being and chat about food. Okay? Good. I think standard tuna salad is kind of a boring menu item. It’s good, but pretty much always the same: mayo, dill, maybe some chopped onion or carrot. It’s never very interesting or all that flavorful. I am here to present you with what I believe to be a revitalized alternative to that grayish white salad behind the deli counter. Red cabbage adds a little bitterness and lots of crunch, apples add sweetness, grainy mustard replaces mayo in flavor twofold (maybe fivefold..it’s just so much prettier to look at!) A tip from me to you: always get tuna in olive oil. Tuna in water is boooooring. You’ll thank me later.

Tuna

1 can tuna in olive oil (or tuna fillets in olive oil and oregano if you feel like getting fancy)

1/2 red cabbage, shredded

1  tbsp. grainy mustard

1 tbsp. capers

1/3 yellow onion, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/2 Gala apple, sliced thin

1/2 tsp. dried dill

1/2 tsp. dried parsley

Combine all ingredients and enjoy on crackers, a sandwich, or straight out of the bowl!

 

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Sides

117

Orange Arugula Salad (with Shallot Vinaigrette)

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It’s beginning to look a lot like summer in Jersey! And with that comes picnics and other outdoor events (note: “events” often = dinner outside with my parents I am so #popular) Anyway, these aforementioned events often call for something green and healthy. Therefore I give you this salad! It’s is so simple, fresh, and delicious. The sweet oranges go perfectly with the peppery arugula and crunchy almonds. I may or may not have eaten the whole bowl of the pictured finished product. I dare you not to do the same.

 

Salad

2 bunches arugula, washed and torn

1/2 c. slivered almonds

1 large orange (or 3 clementines)

Slice the orange and add all ingredients to a large bowl.

 

Vinaigrette

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. dijon mustard

1 shallot, mined

2/3 c. olive oil

salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake well. Pour over salad and toss!

 

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Sides, Snacks

111

Greek Couscous Salad

As the weather warms up we’re quickly approaching summer salads season! The season of beers outside and cold dinner- I love it! A little background: I first learned this recipe when I took an after school cooking class in 3rd grade (I started young). We’d gather in the teacher’s lounge around a hot plate and microwave and make some pretty fancy treats. I still use the little orange paper print-out booklet of recipes they gave us at the end of the program! So by my calculations, if I’m still making this salad twelve years later (look- math!) it must be pretty darn delicious. And it IS. This is also a great potluck dish, as the recipe can easily be doubled (even quadrupled- more math!)

Salad

– 1 box couscous

– 1 red pepper, chopped

– 1 yellow pepper, chopped

– 1 green pepper, chopped

– 1/2 cucumber, diced

– 1/2 small cucumber, cored and chopped

– 1 red onion, diced

– 1 can chickpeas, drained

– 1 cup kalamatta olives, pitted and chopped

– 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook the couscous according to the directions on the box and chop all the veggies. Let the couscous cool completely. Make the vinaigrette (see below). In a large bowl, add the couscous, veggies, olives, chickpeas, and cheese. Toss well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Add the vinaigrette and toss well again when you’re ready to eat!

Vinaigrette

– 1/2 cup olive oil

– 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

– 2 tbsp. lemon juice

– salt and pepper (to taste)

Place all ingredients in a mason jar and shake well!

 

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Sides, Snacks

110

Sweet Potato Parmesan Tater Tots (and Horseradish Ketchup)

This recipe is AMAZING. The tots alone are sweet and creamy, but pared with the spicy ketchup they’re just out of this world delicious. AND they’re baked, so it’s basically health food. My favorite part of this snack is easily the crunchy chip coating; it adds a whole new level to the tot. I made them as a side for burgers, but I think they’d be incredible as a breakfast side with fried eggs or an omelet. Try them. They do not disappoint.

Tots (adapted from halfbakedharvest.com)

– 4 medium sweet potatoes

– 2 tbsp butter, melted

– 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1/2 tsp pepper

– 1/2 tsp chili powder

– 1/2 tsp garlic powder

– 1 cup sweet potato chips crumbs

– 1 cup lentil chip crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the sweet potatoes all over with fork. Bake on the oven rack until tender (50-60 minutes). Allow to cool, then use your hands to peel away the skin.  Place the potatoes in a medium bowl and mash with the butter. Stir in the cheese, spices, salt and pepper to taste.  To make the best chip crumbs, pulse in a food processor until fine, then transfer to a bowl. You can also puree the potato mixture in the processor as well to get the smoothest texture if mashing by hand isn’t pleasing you. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the sweet potato mixture into your hand and roll into a tot shape.  Roll the tot in the chips and coat well. If you need to re-shape the tots now is the moment. Place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Repeat until all of the sweet potato mixture is gone. Bake for 15 minutes and flip the the tater tots over and bake another 10-15 minutes or until golden!

 

Horseradish Ketchup

– 1/2 cup ketchup

– 2 tbsp horseradish

Combine the two ingredients and be merry.

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106

Red Quinoa Salad

Is there anyone left in the world who hasn’t let their guard down and opened themselves to quinoa? If I am describing you I think it’s time to broaden your horizons. Quinoa is delicious. In case you didn’t know, it’s technically a seed, but most commonly used to replace pasta-like grains. And in my opinion it’s much better than other healthy grains like bulgar or wheatberries. Now, I may talk a big game sometimes and act like I love healthy food, but to be perfectly honest I really don’t always feel that way. If I had six weeks to live I would just eat bowls and bowls of Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil. For literally every meal. Hot or cold. No joke. But we all have to suck it up and get healthy sometimes, and when I need to do that I like to turn to quinoa. It’s surprisingly tasty and versatile. You can treat it like oatmeal and make a breakfast quinoa (stay tuned) or treat it like couscous and make a Greek-style cold salad with veggies and feta. But one of my favorite ways to make quinoa is to use the red version of the seed in a dish that’s a little sweet and a little spicy, with peppers and carrots. It’s amazing. Try it and I dare you not to begrudgingly admit sometimes being healthy tastes good. This is a perfect side dish, but I think it makes for a great meal on its own too.

Quinoa (serves 3-4 as main dish, 6-8 as side)

– 1 box red quinoa

– 1/2 cup almonds, chopped

– 2+ tbsp. olive oil

– 1 large white onion, chopped

– 3 large carrots, chopped

– 1 large red pepper, chopped

– 1 tsp. dried cumin

– 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

– salt and pepper

Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the box. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the onions for about a minute. Add the carrots, spices and salt and pepper and cook until the carrots are tender, adjusting the heat as needed. Add the peppers and cook for another minute or so, then add the quinoa. Cook for a 2-3 more minutes, then remove from heat. Serve at any temperature!

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Sides, Snacks

104

Parsnip Fries with Spicy Honey Glaze

Truth-telling time: before making this recipe, I’d never eaten parsnips purposefully. I’m sure I’ve accidentally encountered a bite or two in a salad or fancy chicken dish in my past, but I’ve never sat down and thought “yeah, I’m going to have parsnips tonight!”. Honestly, if I’d seen them hanging out on the counter in the past I may have thought they were bloated albino carrots (hey- it could be a thing, I don’t know!) I’m a very boring veggie-cooker. I like to stick with my onions and carrots and broccolis; a red pepper here and there, it’s been a good life. But I’ve been hearing buzz about parsnip fries for what is likely several years at this point. Needless to say, I’ve been curious, but never curious enough to actually go out and buy the damn things. I finally gave in when I discovered several just minding their own business in the refrigerator over my recent Spring break. As I was wondering what to do with them and simultaneously flipping through an edition of Bon Appétit just for funzies I saw the words “honey”, “butter”, and “parsnips”. I knew fate had intervened and I should just get cooking. And boy, am I glad I did. No more carrot fries for this girl! Try ’em. You’ll see.

Also- be sure to check out another installment of Becca being the last person to discover things about technology: I’m so into Instagram videos now! I think I got a pretty good one of the fry process. See end of the post for results.

Fries (from Bon Appétit Magazine)

– 2 lbs. parsnips, peeled and cut into desired fry size (I like mine on the thin side so they really crisp up!)*

–  1/4 c. olive oil

– salt and pepper

*Parsnip note: These bad boys have a weird woody core that should be removed for maximum tastiness. After trimming the ends and peeling the parsnip, quarter it lengthwise. Slowly run a knife between the core and the tender outer part of the parsnip. You won’t be able to get it all, but as much as you can will do the trick!

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Coat parsnips with oil on a large baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast parsnips (tossing occasionally) until tender and golden, 35–40 minutes. While parsnips roast, make honey butter.

Glaze

– ¾ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

– 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

– 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

– 1 tbsp. honey

Place red pepper, butter, vinegar, and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until butter is melted. Drizzle spicy honey butter over parsnips. Consume with your fingers immediately after photographing for blog before parsnips have even begun to cool. Worth it.

 

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ninety seven

Warm Couscous Salad with Olives and Pine Nuts

Although couscous is essentially tiny round pasta, I think it’s incredibly versatile once you figure out the right ways to jazz it up. There have been too many times where I’ve been alone in the kitchen with a box of couscous staring at my refrigerator looking for something to make it a little less…beige. I’ve had successes (sautéed carrots and chickpeas with roasted red pepper sauce over couscous anyone?) and I’ve had -er- not successes (coconut couscous pudding, someday I will win). Regardless, this is a recipe celebrating a victory of mine in the kitchen with couscous. Truly, this it was the happiest of accidents! Or maybe we can call it a stroke of genius! (Side note: who’s ever watched Sweet Genius? Easily the best show on television. Take a sec to watch a video. Or all 7 videos. Chef Ron is my hero.) Okay, maybe the salad wasn’t genius, I think I was just hungry. But it was yummy. Like, much yummier than I -and all who consumed it- were expecting. In terms of pearled vs. normal couscous, I used to absolutely hate the pearled kind, but in the case of this recipe, I think it really works. So do me a favor and try it, but if you really can’t, I understand. We all have texture issues. The salad will be just as good with normal couscous. In case anyone was wondering I’ve now typed couscous so many times in the course of writing this post it doesn’t feel like a real word anymore.

Couscous Salad

– 1 box pearled couscous

– 2 tbsp. olive oil

– 1/4 cup pine nuts

– 1/2 medium red onion, chopped

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 cup large green marinated olives, pitted and chopped (mine were marinated in crushed red pepper and garlic- use whatever you like. If you haven’t been to an olive bar at Whole Foods yet, I strongly recommend you do that now. Also, who out there believes in the olive theory?)

– 1/2 cup feta cheese (optional)

– salt and pepper

Cook couscous according to directions on the box (I like cooking in vegetable or chicken stock instead of water for a more robust flavor, but you do whatever makes you happy!) Heat oil over medium heat, sauté onions until translucent, then add the pine nuts and cook until the nuts begin to toast. Add garlic and continue cooking for 2-3 more minutes. Add olives and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cooked couscous, salt, and pepper. Combine well. If using, top with feta cheese and serve warm.

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eighty three

Apple Pecan Stuffing

Stuffing might be one of my favorite foods. I don’t know about you, but I like to make stuffing any time when the weather is chilly; it’s definitely not a strictly Thanksgiving/Christmas food. In my humble opinion, there’s nothing better than curling up in a million blankets on the couch with a giant bowl of stuffing, watching Gilmore Girls reruns. Pure magic. And to those of you who saw this and thought, “is she just about to post a Thanksgiving recipe from weeks ago and pretend it makes sense?” you’re only SORT OF right. Boom. But in all seriousness, I really do think everyone should eat stuffing all year ’round. It’s basically (kindasorta) savory bread pudding. I think if you added sliced sausage to this particular recipe it would make a pretty rad main course, don’t you?

Stuffing (adapted from foodnetwork.com)

– 1 1/2 cups raw pecans

– 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

– 2 cups chopped white onion

– 1 cup chopped celery

– 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

– 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

– 12 cups 1/2-inch cubes of bread, left out overnight (or you can use croutons, i won’t tell)

– 1/4 bunch fresh sage

– 1/4 bunch fresh thyme

– 1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

– 1/2 tsp. black pepper

– Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toast the pecans for about 5 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees. In a large saucepan melt 6 tbsp. of butter and cook the apples over medium heat for three minutes. In another saucepan melt the remaining butter along with the celery and onions until soft. Pour the celery mixture into the apple mixture along with the broth. Then add the bread, herbs, salt and pepper. Place mixture into an baking dish and bake for 45 minutes or until heated through.

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