Category Archives: Side Dishes

Greek Tomato Cucumber Salad

Greek Salad 2

With tomato season in full swing here, this salad makes a frequent appearance at our dinner table. It is perfect for serving with just about any grilled meat or fish. It is also a great partner with soups, sandwiches, or quiche for a quick summer meal.

I love to use mini cucumbers in this salad, or the long seedless English cucumbers. The skins are thin and provide a great contrasting color and crunch to the salad. Regular cucumbers are often too seedy and have much tougher skins.

I usually serve the feta cheese on the side. It becomes mushy if left in the salad for too long.

Greek Salad 1

RECIPE:

Greek Tomato Cucumber Salad

Greek Salad 2

3-4 tomatoes, chopped
4-6 mini cucumbers or 1 English seedless cucumber, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano, finely chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
½ tsp Greek seasoning
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Combine chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, and onion. Stir together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad. Stir in feta just before serving (or serve feta on the side).

Serve right away or refrigerate.

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Filed under Salads, Side Dishes

Ham and Zucchini Quiche

Ham and Zucchini Quiche 2

Summer is in full swing, which means it is prime zucchini season. Pair this quiche with a salad for a perfect summer meal that can be eaten hot or cold.

For a perfectly browned crust, bake the quiche with a pie crust shield. It is easy to Make Your Own:

Pie Crust Shield

For a low carb version, just bake this quiche without a crust in an 8-inch square baking dish.

Ham and Zucchini Quiche 1

Some ideas for salads to serve alongside this quiche:

Chopped Caprese Salad
Greek Summer Salad
Chipotle Lime Quinoa and White Bean Salad
Thai Cucumber Salad

RECIPE:

Ham and Zucchini Quiche

Ham and Zucchini Quiche 2

Single pastry crust for 9” pie plate
1 ½ cups heavy cream
4 eggs
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ground cayenne or Ancho chile pepper
1 Tbs butter
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped cooked ham
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan
1 ½ cups shredded Swiss, cheddar, or  Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Prepare pastry crust and place in 9” pie plate (deep dish, if possible).

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to mix cream, eggs, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

Heat butter in a skillet. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add diced zucchini and cook until crisp-tender (about 3 minutes). Place vegetables in a mixing bowl and stir in diced ham. Cool slightly. Stir in shredded cheese. Spread filling evenly into unbaked crust. Pour egg mixture over filling. Use a spatula or fork to remove any large air pockets.

If desired, cover the crust of the quiche with a pie crust shield. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to set at room temperature 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Filed under Breakfast/Brunch, Main Dishes, Side Dishes

Chopped Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad 2

A Caprese Salad is the perfect accompaniment to grilled summer meats: chicken, steaks, pork, even hamburgers. Made with summer fresh tomatoes and basil, fresh mozzarella, and a reduced balsamic glaze, it just screams summer and healthy eating.

Caprese Salad 1

I like to make a “chopped” version of the salad with various cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella pearls. I drizzle this with some extra-virgin olive oil and serve the balsamic reduction on the side so that the tomatoes and cheese don’t soak up too much vinegar before serving.

I love these little “mozzarella pearls”. They are perfectly bite-sized:

Image result for mozzarella pearls   Pearls

If you are short on time, you can serve this with straight balsamic vinegar, but it is so worth the little time it takes to reduce the vinegar to a stronger syrupy consistency. I usually reduce an entire bottle of vinegar and then store the left-overs  in the refrigerator. You can also infuse some delicious flavors into your reduction while you are at it, things like fresh herbs and garlic. Some people add additional honey or sweetener to the reduction, but I find balsamic vinegar to be plenty sweet without additional sweetener.

If you don’t want to do the chopped version of this salad, you can also make it in the more traditional format with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella:

Caprese Salad 3

Tomorrow we officially begin our summer break (after a final half-day of school). This salad will be a frequent side dish on our table.

Caprese Salad 2

RECIPE:

Chopped Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad 2

2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup mozzarella pearls
¼ cup fresh basil, sliced in thin strips (chiffonade)
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
about ¼ cup  Balsamic Reduction

Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil in a serving dish. Season with salt and pepper. Serve Balsamic Reduction on the side to be drizzled over salad just before eating.

Balsamic Reduction

1 (16 oz) bottle balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey, optional (I DO NOT add honey)
2 whole cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
1-2 sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano)

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until vinegar reduces by about half and thickens to a thin syrup. This will take about 10-15 minutes.

Remove garlic, bay leaf, and herbs (strain if necessary). Cool. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 1 cup glaze

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Filed under Appetizers, Salads, Side Dishes

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas 1

Chicken fajitas are always a kid favorite. Roasting the chicken and vegetables in a sheet pan makes for a quick and easy clean-up. Now everyone’s happy.

Great for eating traditionally in warm flour tortillas, topping a crispy corn tortilla, or on a bed of lettuce for those watching their carb intake.

Chicken Fajitas 2

I serve these Fajitas with Instant Pot Chipotle Beans and Green Chili Cilantro Rice (recipe below).

Chipotle Black Beans 2

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

RECIPES:

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas 1

2-3 lb boneless, skinless chicken, diced
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
4 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs Italian salad dressing
1 Tbs chili powder
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro, divided
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 red/yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
1-2 jalapenos, thinly sliced or minced

Flour or corn tortillas, warmed
Shredded cheese
Guacamole
Sour cream
Tomatoes, chopped
Lettuce, chopped

In a Ziploc bag, combine chicken, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, Italian dressing, chili powder, garlic and 2 Tbs cilantro. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator as long as overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large sheet pan with foil; spray or brush lightly with olive oil.

Drain excess marinade from the chicken and spread into an even layer in prepared pan. Add sliced onions and peppers to the pan. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt.

Roast in oven for 10 minutes. Pour off any liquid in the pan. Set oven to broil and cook until chicken and peppers just begin to char. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs cilantro.

Serve with warm tortillas and desired condiments.

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

1 can (1 ¾ cup) chicken broth
1 can (4 oz) diced mild green chilies, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 cup Basmati rice (or other long grain variety rice)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine broth, green chilies, garlic, olive oil, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Stir in chopped cilantro.

This can also be cooked in a rice cooker: combine all ingredients except cilantro in rice cooker and cook according to directions; stir in cilantro.

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Filed under Instant Pot, Main Dishes, Salads, Side Dishes

Instant Pot Chipotle Black Beans

Chipotle Black Beans 2

For my birthday a few weeks ago, I received an Instant Pot pressure cooker. True confession: I bought the Instant Pot when it was on sale over the summer, hid it in my closet, and gave it to my husband to give to me on my birthday. Gift-giving often works out best for us this way.

I am still  in the pressure cooker learning phase, but I have made a few things that my family really loves. These spicy black beans have definitely become a family staple. In the last 5 weeks, I have made them 3 times, and everyone cheers to see them on the table again. I never expected such a great reaction to a bean side dish!

Chipotle Black Beans 1

These beans are flavored with chipotle peppers and various smoky spices. We like them on the spicy side, but if you want a little less heat, just scale back on the chipotles.

These beans (and yogurt making) have totally made the Instant Pot worth it. I love being able to start with dried beans and have a delicious dish in a little more than an hour. And No Soaking! No need to plan the night before. The total prep time for this recipe is less than 5 minutes (or as long as it takes you to chop an onion and measure some spices).

Maybe we will actually be able to eat our way through all of the dried beans in our basement now.

I also made these once using dried pinto beans, and they were delicious too.

UPDATE: I recently bought a different brand of black beans and they took longer to reach the same level of softness. I have updated the recipe to reflect the longer possible cooking time.

RECIPE:

Instant Pot Chipotle Black Beans

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Chipotle Black Beans 2

1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken broth
1 can mild diced green chiles, undrained
1 lb dried black beans**
2 canned chipotle peppers, finely chopped plus 2-3 Tbs adobo sauce
*adjust for desired spiciness

Chopped Cilantro, for garnish

Set the Instant Pot to Sauté. Add the oil, chopped onion, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes with the lid off. Stir in dry seasonings and cook for 1 additional minute.

Add broth, green chiles, black beans, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce.

Press Cancel to reset. Place the lid on the pot, with the valve in the “Sealing” position. Press the Bean/Chili button (or Manual, high pressure) and set the time for 40-50 minutes. After the beans cook, let the pressure release naturally (about 30-40 minutes).

Remove lid and stir beans. Remove bay leaf. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary. If beans are soupy, use a slotted spoon to serve. Beans will thicken with time. Garnish with cilantro.

Total Cook Time: about 90 minutes

**Notes:
-I used to always cook these for 40 minutes, but I recently bought a different brand of black beans and they took longer to reach the same level of softness (about 50 minutes).
-You can also use small dried white beans or pinto beans

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Filed under Instant Pot, Side Dishes

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 1

The transition from summer to fall is my very favorite time of the year. I love the cool mornings and sunny (but not humid) days. It is the perfect time for making my favorite comfort food: Ratatouille. Like all good comfort foods, it is warm and filling and permeates your house with delicious smells as it cooks low and slow on the stove. And during this change of seasons, I love that I can still get great fresh garden vegetables and herbs to use in this recipe.

Ratatouille is not always the most visually appealing dish, but is bursting with flavor. It is full of hearty vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs Then cooked down on the stove until the flavors blend and meld into the most delicious vegetable stew. Eating healthy has never tasted better!

Ratatouille 2

This is Little A’s very favorite side dish. His face just lights up when he smells it as he comes into the house. All of the kids love it except for Little J (but she hardly counts as she turns her nose up to EVERY vegetable in this dish).

Ratatouille makes a perfect side dish to grilled or roasted meats. I love to serve it this time of year, when we still like to grill chicken, pork, or other things outside. Grilled meat is wonderful, but also begs for something juicy to eat with it. Ratatouille fits that bill perfectly. It is also great later in the winter with a roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or beef roast.

This recipe makes a good-sized pot of ratatouille. You could always scale it back if you don’t want to make that much, but I love to have leftovers of this dish. It makes a perfect lunch all on its own the next day. Or as a sauce for pasta for an easy meal later in the week.

I never measure things when I make this recipe. It is very flexible based on your personal tastes. Below is a good approximation of the amounts that I use.

RECIPE:

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 2

½ cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, skin on, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cups chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil*
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley*
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme*
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano*

Heat olive oil in a large saucepot. Add eggplant to the hot oil and cook until eggplant begins to soften. Add onions, red pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and dried herbs; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and Tabasco sauce and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until mixture is cooked down and thickened (30-40 minutes). Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.

*Or substitute an additional 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs

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Filed under Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Soups/Stews/Curries