Category Archives: Salads and Side Dishes

Peanut butter and sesame noodles

These sesame noodles are a fast and tasty side dish for summer parties and cookouts.

These sesame noodles are a fast and tasty side dish for summer parties and cookouts.

It has been a long time since I posted a recipe. I feel like my schedule has spiraled out of control and looking at the dates on this year’s posts only confirms it. I did no cooking this week. I was too busy with work, and then at night, sometimes, I would rather go to the gym to work off stress than make a real dinner. Cheese, humus and crackers are good friends on those nights.

And yet, I am not willing to give up this blog. For one thing, it contains recipes that I love and haven’t stored anywhere else. And, I still love cooking. I just need to get back to having space for it in my life.

I made the pasta pictured here last summer for one of the cookouts at our house. The noodles make a great side dish for grilled chicken, burgers _ anything really. You also don’t have to worry about them too much in hot weather.

The recipe was given to me years ago by a friend in Connecticut. She brought the noodles to our house for a cookout, and I was like, “I need to make this.” I was stunned by how easy it is. I still think of her whenever I make the dish or see variations of it.

I tend to make my sesame noodles fairly mild, but you can add heat by adding more Tabasco sauce. If you are really brave, try hot chili oil. Just make sure you taste as you go.

Sesame Noodles

16 ounces of linguine (I sometimes substitute soba noodles)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
10 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
6 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
6 chopped scallions

Cook the pasta according to directions, rinse the noodles and let them cool. Make the peanut sauce by blending the next five ingredients in a food processor. Slowly add the sesame oil and Tabasco sauce. Toss the pasta with the peanut sauce, sesame seeds and scallions. Serve at room temperature.

Mom’s Carolina Coleslaw

My mom made the best coleslaw while we were visiting her recently. I don’t have a picture to share because we ate all of it before I thought about taking one. Even G., who is steadfast in his dislike of cabbage, liked this receipe.

And, it’s very easy to make; just be sure to allow enough time for it to sit so the flavors blend.

Coleslaw
1 bag pre-cut coleslaw (or a head of cabbage, chopped)
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup diced beets (optional)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sweet relish
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together, and let it sit for at least 24 hours so the flavors blend.

Cauliflower with lemon, raisins and capers

This is a quick and relatively healthy way to treat roasted cauliflower.

This is a quick and relatively healthy way to treat roasted cauliflower.

G. and I are slowly working our way through our stockpile of frozen cauliflower from last summer.

I recently tried a Taste of Home recipe for roasted cauliflower that I like — mostly.

I decided to make the recipe because it calls for capers, and I really like capers. But not in this dish. They seemed oddly sour, so I think I will leave them out next time.

Browned Butter Roasted Cauliflower

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped parsley (I skipped this since it is winter, and parsley at the grocery store is expensive and sad-looking.)
1 tablespoon capers
2 teaspoons lemon juice,

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the ends off the garlic cloves, wrap them in foil and bake for 25 minutes or until the cloves are soft.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and heat it for 5 to 7 minutes, until it starts to brown.

Place the cauliflower in a greased baking dish and drizzle with browned butter, salt and pepper. Toss. Roast for about 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and starting to brown.

Combine the cauliflower, raisins, lemon juice and garlic in a bowl. Add the capers and parsley if you are using them. Toss and serve.

A winter cauliflower casserole

This tasty winter cauliflower casserole with tomato sauce and goat cheese comes from Martha Rose Shulman, of the New York Times.

This tasty winter cauliflower casserole with tomato sauce and goat cheese comes from Martha Rose Shulman, of the New York Times.

Our concerted effort to use the food that we have in cold storage, canned and frozen is paying off. The stockpile in the freezer is smaller than it was two months ago, and much smaller than it was at this time last year.

One thing we still have in excess is cauliflower, in part because 2013 was a great year for growing it. We probably froze a dozen or more 1-pound bags, and we still have most of them because I have been so focused on using the winter squash that is in cold storage.

When I opened the freezer door last week, I was like, “Oh! Cauliflower. Need to use that.”

Happily, New York Times food columnist Martha Rose Shulman did a section on gratins last week that included a delicious cauliflower casserole.

I screwed it up a bit because I thought one medium head of cauliflower would be 2 pounds, but now, I think it is closer to one. I ended up compensating by adding an extra cup of tomato sauce and an extra egg, but when I make it again, I’ll use the portions below.

I’ll also cut the cauliflower into smaller pieces next time. I think it would make for a more pleasant texture and experience.

Cauliflower with Tomato Sauce and Goat Cheese

1 pound cauliflower, defrosted (or 1 head of fresh if you don’t freeze cauliflower during the summer)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1 small or 1/2 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cups tomato sauce
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 eggs
2 1/2 ounces soft goat cheese, softened

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper, then place it on the lined baking sheet. Bake it for about 16 minutes, flipping over the large pieces half-way through.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and turn down the temperature to 375 degrees.

Cut the cauliflower into small pieces. You should have about 2 cups.

Grease a 2-quart baking dish.

Heat the last tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add the garlic, thyme, cinnamon, coriander and tomato sauce. Cook the mixture a little more until the sauce cooks down some.

Toss the cauliflower with the sauce and pour the mixture into a baking dish.

Set aside 2 tablespoons of goat cheese. Beat the rest with the eggs until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the egg mixture over cauliflower mixture, then dot the top with small pieces of the remaining goat cheese.

Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes, until the top is beginning to brown in spots. Remove it from the oven and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. This makes four to six servings.

Canal House Lentils

Canal House Lentils

Canal House Lentils are a tasty part of Bon Appetit magazine’s January cleanse.

Lentils are one of the items that I’m supposed to eat to help manage my glucose levels and avoid becoming a diabetic. My mom’s supposed to eat them too, and I recently posted two of her lentil soup recipes here and here.

I was thinking I needed to get into the game on this because I’d never made anything with lentils, and then Bon Appetit‘s January issue showed up with what looked like a tasty Asian-influenced side dish. The magazine actually recommends eating the lentils for breakfast with some salmon _ the recipe is part of its post-holiday cleanse package. Thus far, I’ve eaten lentils only for lunch and dinner. Soy sauce in the morning just doesn’t sound appealing to me.

Below is my slightly modified version. The magazine uses 2 1/2 cups water and cooks the lentils for up to 55 minutes, but that just didn’t seem necessary. Mine were done in less than a half hour.

Canal House Lentils
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped (Bon Appetit uses 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup green lentils
2 cups water
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, stirring to prevent burning. After a couple of minutes, add the tomato paste. Cook a couple more minutes. Add the lentils and water.

Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until the leeks are tender.

Stir in the soy sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. This dish is good reheated.

My mother’s turkey stuffing is the only one for me

Turkey and stuffing

Since we usually spend Thanksgiving with G.’s family, I make a turkey myself on another day just so I can make my mom’s stuffing.

I love my mother’s stuffing just about more than anything. It says “home” to me in a way that no other food does.

Turkey and stuffing has always been my favorite meal, and when I was a child, we had it three times a year _ Thanksgiving, Christmas and my birthday. If I visit my mother around my birthday now, she still makes turkey. Or, like this year, if I visit her near her birthday, which is also close to Christmas, we’ll have turkey. It’s the special meal that marks our family gatherings.

I know there are a lot of fancy recipes for stuffing that involve gourmet bread, dried fruit and wild rice. I don’t want that. When I go home, I want the carb-laden, made-from-overly-processed-white-bread stuffing that would give my doctor a heart attack if he knew what I was eating. I figure, it’s a couple of times a year at most that I eat this, so why not feed my soul?

I made my own turkey recently because we had one in the refrigerator that we needed to eat. G. gets two turkeys each year, one from a client at Thanksgiving and one from his employer at Christmas. But the Christmas turkey comes soon after Thanksgiving, so we can easily end up with two birds in the freezer. When we received a recent note about the Thanksgiving bird’s impending arrival, I decided we needed to quickly roast last year’s Christmas foul. I did that a week or two ago. To keep the freezer relatively clear, we plan to give our Thanksgiving turkey to G.’s mom, who usually hosts that holiday. Then I will make this year’s Christmas bird sometime around Christmas _ or at least, plan to. That was the plan last year too, but then I was changing jobs and moving and gardening and . . . it’s always something.

You would think that I would know my mom’s stuffing recipe by heart now, but I don’t. I have to call her every time I make it to check on how much milk, celery, onion and sage to include. I’m posting my notes from this year so that I will have them available next time, although in truth, I don’t think she minds the calls.

My Mom’s Stuffing
1 loaf of cheap, white sandwich bread, broken into pieces
1 cup celery, chopped (about 4 stalks)
2/3 cup onion, chopped (1 small onion, or half of a really big one)
milk
1/2 cup mashed potatoes (I use the fake ones, or you can microwave and mash a small potato)
dried parsley
dried sage (a lot)
1 egg beaten

Break the bread into pieces in a big bowl.

Saute the celery and onion in a bit of butter just until the onion starts to turn translucent. Add the vegetables to the bread.

Add the potato, egg, dried parsley and sage. Mash it all together with your hands. Add just enough milk to make the stuffing moist, but not wet. Mash it some more. Add more milk if needed.

If you need to, and you probably will, add more sage. You should be able to smell the sage.

Stuff the turkey and roast it as directed for your oven.

Chicago-style fresh-corn cornbread

Cornbread

My favorite cornbread recipe includes real corn, pureed so that it adds moisture but not big chunks.

I’d been looking for a good cornbread recipe, and then Tasting Table emailed the one below, adapted from chef Red Hauge at Dragon Ranch Moonshine and BBQ in Chicago. I like it because it’s moist and dense, with real corn blended in.

It doesn’t quite have the crispy exterior you find on cornbread muffins in the South _ at least when I make it _ so I’m still searching for my ideal. But in the meantime, this one will do just fine.

Cornbread

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 cups corn kernels (fresh or thawed frozen)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk (I use regular milk.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a food processor, pulse the corn kernels until roughly pureed. Scrape the corn puree into a large bowl and whisk in the melted butter, eggs and buttermilk. Stir the flour mixture into the corn mixture until just combined. Scrape the batter into the baking dish.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out nearly clean, about 30 minutes.