Category Archives: Side Dish

Kale Salad with Roasted Acorn Squash

After having a delicious kale and butternut squash salad last week at Audubon Circle I was inspired to make one myself. The first item on my grocery list was kale, and I actually picked up some fresh Kale at the Sowa Farmer’s Market yesterday and since I had an acorn squash from the garden to use, I decided to sub that for the butternut squash. The salad I had last week has sliced almonds, onions and Parmesan cheese. I don’t like raw onions nor am I a big fan of Parmesan but I do wish that I had had almonds in the house, I think that would have added a nice touch to the salad. Instead, to give it a little sweetness, I added craisins.

My version of Audubon’s Kale Salad

This salad is super healthy and loaded with nutrients. If you are looking for a delicious – and healthy – side dish to go with dinner tonight, or I’, thinking this would be a great alternative to green bean casserole at Thanksgiving, you’ve got to try this recipe. It’s quick and easy to prepare (if you microwave the squash)

Ingredients (serves 2)

5-6 Kale leaves, washed well
1 acorn squash (or sub butternut squash)
3 teaspoons Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
pinch of Salt
handful of craiains
3 tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)

How to cook Acorn Squash:

1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise
2. Scoop out the seeds and stringing part in the middle of the squash

Bake: Place both halves cut side up in a baking dish filled with 1/2 – 1 inch water, this will keep the skin from burning to the pan and the squash from drying out. Bake at 400F for 40-60 minutes, until soft. Timing will vary depending on the size of the squash, and the oven. Let cool and the skin will easily peel off


Microwave: Lay cut side down on a piece of microwave safe plastic wrap placed directly on a plate. Cook on high in 3 minute intervals until completely softened and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Again, cooking times will vary upon size.

I added cinnamon and nutmeg to one side – wish I had added it to both sides; it gives it a little extra something!

In the meanwhile…
Cut the stems off of the kale and slice leaves into thin slices. Place slices in a bowl and add half the lemon juice, 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt. “Massage” the kale with your hands, as my friend Meg explained it to me, until it begins to soften and wilt a little, this will take about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside for another 10-15 minutes.

In a smaller bowl mix together the remaining lemon juice, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and pepper. This will be the dressing. You can use more olive oil if desired, I like to keep it on the lighter side.

Toss the dressing with the kale, then add in craisins and cooled chopped squash. Toss once more so the squash gets a little bit of the dressing too! To make this a meal add sliced almonds and shredded Parmesan cheese …and eat the entire bowl. Or serve this as a side with pork, chicken, steak, or tofu!


Curried Cauliflower with Tomatoes

Over the summer I ate at Trade and had the best side dish, curried cauliflower. I tried to recreate it, but it came out nothing like the one at Trade. It was still good, just very different.  I searched and searched the Internet for recipes and found dozens, all different. So I combined a few and made up my own recipe. This one was a bit drier and much spicier, but made a great side dish to the chicken I made for dinner. 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head cauliflower (about 1 pound) , cut into florets
2 Tablespoons curry powder (recipe follows or use store bought spice)
1 Tablespoon ginger
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup raisins (I didn’t have any in the house)
¼ cup Greek yogurt, for dipping (optional)
Curry Powder:
2 tablespoons coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cardamom
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon turmeric
1.     Mix the curry powder, ginger, lemon juice and red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
2.     Sauté the cauliflower over medium heat in olive oil, for about 10 minutes, until it begins to brown.
3.     Stir in the curry powder, lemon juice and red wine vinegar mixture. Mix well.
4.     Add the tomatoes.
5.     Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
6.     Serve warm or at room temperature with a side of Greek Yogurt. I used the Greek yogurt as a ‘dipping sauce’ because I found this recipe to be extremely spicy. I also added a little more lemon juice to the yogurt and the cauliflower on my plate. 

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (aka Mashed Cauliflower)

 My Aunt Cindy makes these at Thanksgiving. It started a few years ago when she was on the Atkins diet and she continued to make both regular mashed potatoes and these, because we (mostly me) liked them so much! I don’t eat mashed potatoes, I’ve never liked them, but this mashed cauliflower has so much flavor and I just absolutely love them!
In order to keep them a little chunky use a potato masher instead of a blender. If you like your mashed potatoes smooth, use the blender. 
Raw Cauliflower – a medium head makes about a pound of florets
1 Tablespoon cream cheese softened
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese  (I use a little less)
¼ teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon chicken base or bouillon, you may substitute
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon Chives, chopped
1.     Separate the florets and chop the core finely
2.     Steam until tender (or microwave to save time). It is tender once you can easily pierce it with a fork, about 12-15 minutes. You can also boil the cauliflower for 6 minutes.
3.    Drain well but do not let cool.
4.    In a food processor, pulse the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, chicken bouillon, and pepper until almost smooth. Pulse for even less time if you like your ”potatoes” chunkier.     
5.     Garnish with chives and serve warm.
This will make about 4 servings.

Cold Rice Noodle Salad with Spicy Lime Vinaigrette

I adopted this recipe from the one I found on Thai Kitchen’swebsite. By the way, Thai Kitchen has some great gluten free products.

This salad was a major hit at my friend Molly’s BBQ over the weekend. It was all eaten! This salad has a great kick to it, but no too spicy. The cucumber gives it a nice refreshing feel and crunchy taste. The hot sauce I used had hints of key lime mango and pomegranate give the chili sauce a nice sweet after taste. Plain hot sauce will work fine too, start with only two tablespoons and add more to suite your taste.
Spicy Lime Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice + 2 Tablespoons
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 – 3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise, sliced thinly
1 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup chopped fresh Thai basil (I used regular Basil because that is what I grow in my garden)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro  (also fresh from the garden
1. For the Vinaigrette, mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Start with only ¼ cup lime juice and rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar and chili sauce. Add more as need to suite your taste. Set aside. 
2. Bring large pot of water to boil. Add rice noodles; cook 5 minutes or until noodles are tender but firm. 
3. Rinse under cold water and  drain well. Place noodles in large bowl and let cool about 5 more minutes. 
4. Add cucumber, carrots, slaw, basil and cilantro and mix well. Mix in the Vinaigrette and toss gently.   
5. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to blend flavors and serve cold or at room temperature.

Summer Pasta Salad with Lemon Parsley Dressing

This salad is light and tasty – perfect for summer picnics, cook outs and barbeques. I made this last Saturday for my friends BBQ and nobody knew it was gluten free 🙂
8 oz. gluten free penne or spiral pasta
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 cup diced cucumber
2 cups broccoli
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped OR about 3-4 cups cheery tomatoes, halved
For the dressing:
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
pepper to taste
1.     Cook pasta according to the package directions and let cool completely.
2.     In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, yellow pepper, cucumbers, broccoli, celery and tomatoes.
3.     In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar, onion powder, and pepper. Mix this dressing with the pasta and then add the parsley.
4.     Cool in the refrigerator, covered for about an hour, or until chilled.   

Quinoa and Rice Summer Salad

I offered to make a side dish for my friend Lauren’s bbq, and I did not want to make a tradition potato, pasta or egg salad. Quite frankly, I do not like egg salad nor am I a big fan of traditional potato salad (too much mayonnaise). I’m always experimenting in the kitchen, and after deciding I wanted to make a rice and quinoa salad (I made a cumin scented quinoa and black rice salad for my graduation party that turned out great) I made up this recipe. I knew I wanted something light and tasty. Using rice as the main ingredient is a nice departure from the traditional bbq salads, and much lighter too.
Summer is the perfect time for a cool salad. This one is simple to prepare and the ingredients give it a refreshing, cooling and satisfying taste. The flavors mix very nicely together to give this dish great flavor. Often times many summer salads are loaded with mayonnaise and this one is not, also making it a much healthier choice.
2 cups brown rice
2 cups quinoa
1 cup cherries, pitted and sliced
1 medium cucumber, diced
 cup walnuts
3 Tablespoons Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
½ cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons onion powder
salt (optional) and pepper to taste
1.     The quinoa and rice can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Cook, separately, according to the package directions. To give a little extra flavor use vegetable stock in place of water to cook the quinoa, or use half water and half stock.
2.     Rinse cherries and remove stems. Cut around the pit into slices.
3.     In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, walnuts, rice and quinoa. Mix well.
4.     Add in the parsley, onion powder and paper (and salt if using).
5.     Add in the lime and lemon juices, one tablespoon at a time and mix well in between each one.
6.     Add cherries in last, right before serving or else it could turn the dish red from the juices.
7.     Serve chilled or at room temperature.
I also think adding mint – or replacing the parsley with it – would also make a delicious dish. Next time I am going to try it this way! 
Before the Cherries were added

Cumin Scented Black Rice and Quinoa

This past weekend I had my graduation party. We spent some time planning out the menu – pasta salad, Ceaser Salad, Goat Cheese and Spinach Salad, Shredded Carrot with Scallions and Peas over Mixed Greens , Italian Sausage with onions and peppers, hamburgers, hot dogs, fruit salad, and a cake. We needed another starchy side dish, and neither of us being big fans of potato salad (too much mayonnaise for my taste), I remembered a dish I had at my friend Lauren’s house at a recent dinner party. It was delicious, I remember loving the side dish she made, quinoa with brown rice cumin and vegetables. I adapted her recipe a bit, as the original one calls for black rice, and I added more garlic and brown rice, in addition to the black rice.

It was a hit at the party and it tasted even better the day after! I’m not sure why but my guess is that the spices and flavors had more time to infuse into the rice and quinoa.

The recipe below serves 8 but I personally think it is enough for at least 10 or 12 people as a side dish. It can be served either cold or warm. I think it would taste great with tomatoes, avocados or cucumbers added to it, or maybe even sweet potato or butternut squash in the winter time, served warm.

Recipe Adapted from Bon Apetit


  • 1/2 cup short-grain black rice
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 2 cups water or vegetable/chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (or chives)
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook brown rice and black rice separately. Black rice turns the water purple, and if cooked with the brown rice will also turn it purple.
1. Bring brown rice and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender, 25-30 minutes.  Do the same with the black rice.
2. Meanwhile, combine quinoa, bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups chicken broth (gives it more flavor) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; return quinoa to hot saucepan. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. 
3.Discard bay leaf, fluff quinoa with a fork, and transfer to a large bowl.
4. While the quinoa and rice are  cooking, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 
5. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. 
6. Add garlic and cumin and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. 
7. Add to quinoa. 
8. Then add rice and mix well. 
9. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons oil (optional, I started with one and didn’t add the second tablespoon), fresh lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, and basil. 
10. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut avocado into wedges. 
11. Serve salad cold or warm. Serve with lemon on the side, optional.