Tag Archives: Side Dish

{ Curry Roasted Calabaza with Apples & Honey }

If you think that grocery shopping in the Unites States is annoying and tedious, then you would not believe what it takes in Argentina. It is an all day, sometimes doble day process, that requires one to visit multiple verdulerias (veggie markets), canicerias (meat markets), fruterias (fruit markets), and superchinos (the adopted name for small Korean-owned markets, which clutter the city). There is no such thing as one-stop shopping in Buenos Aires, and finding even the most basic ingredients (i.e. black beans, peanut butter, jalapeños, ect…) can often be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. As a result, my culinary skills were contsantly put to the challenge as I was continuously forced to rethink many of my weeknight dinners and side dishes. Given that there is absolutely NO shortage of calabaza  in the city of Buenos Aires (calabaza = Spanish pumpkin), I decided to start incorporating it into my meals to simplify my shopping experience. It very quickly became a grocery staple, right up there along with bread, butter, and eggs.

One of my favorite ways to prepare calabaza is to simply roast it with a seasoning of olive oil, salt, pepper but then one night I decided to add a sprinkling of Indian curry into the mix and it turned out amazing. The next time I prepared the dish, it evolved even further when I added chopped granny smith apples to the roasting pan halfway through baking. The apple cubes compliment the spice of the curry and add the skins provide a little texture to contrast the smooth butteriness of the pumpkin. Drizzle a little honey on top after everything has roasted and viola….deliciousness!

This has undoubtably become one of my favorite side dishes (served either hot or cold), and I even like to eat it as a main dish over white rice.

{ Ingredients }

  • 3 cups calabaza, chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons curry, depending on your taste
  • 1 cup green apple, chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • Honey, optional for finishing

 { To Prepare } Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare you calabaza, cutting it into 1″ cubes. You can either clean down your own calabaza, or use pre-packaged ones cleaned by the store (as I have shown below).

Place into a large mixing bowl and add olive oil, curry, salt, and pepper, tossing with your hands to coat. Arrange the calabaza on a baking sheet in a single layer and put in oven. NOTE: Make sure to turn over calabaza with a spatula every 3-4 minutes, to ensure even cooking!

While the calabza is cooking, prepare your 1/2″ apple cubes. Add the apples to the baking sheet 10 minutes into the baking process, and return to oven.

Continue to bake for additional 5-10 minutes until the pumpkin is tender and the apple is golden.

Remove from oven, drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of honey, adjust seasonings, and serve!

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{ Parmesan Roasted Asparagus }

What is a meal without the supporting cast?! Every good entree deserves a delicious side dish, and these parmesan roasted asparagus are one of my all-time favorites! They compliment any protein and taste delicious over rice and risotto. Recently, I have been cooking them in the oven using the broiler setting, but when the weather is nice I prefer to cook them out on the grill. Either way, they taste great!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

{ To Make the Asparagus } Turn the broiler setting of your oven on high.

Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and toss to coat. Place the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet and put in oven. Cook for 8 minutes, turning the asparagus halfway through cooking process. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately!

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{ Lemon Caper Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes }

One of the most difficult aspects of planning a meal, aside from getting all the groceries together, is deciding what the heck your actually going to make! As is true of most hardcore foodies, I’m no basic meat and potatoes girl. I love elaborate side dishes and I practically live for condiments–the more, the merrier! So after I choose a protein to cook, I usually find myself flipping through the section labeled “side dishes” in my recipe binder (aka my bible), searching for the perfect partner(s) for my main dish. The standard garlic mashed potatoes and roasted veggies just haven’t been tickling my fancy as of lately, and tonight I wanted something different. So I turned to the end all be all recipe collection, the direct source itself, the food network.

After a great deal of searching, I resolved to try making this lemon, garlic, caper pasta created by Giada de Laurentis. My main dish was a simple herb grilled chicken breast (although my mom also paired it with a nice filet of salmon), and it complimented both dishes beautifully. There are very few ingredients used in making the pasta, so the tremendous flavor comes as quite a surprise, but it was more than welcomed by my plate tonight.

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
{ To Make the PastaBring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.
Just before serving, add the basil, capers, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the spaghetti mixture and toss to combine.

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{ Spinach Salad with Citrus Dressing and Parmesan Frico }

Spinach Salad with Citrus Dressing, Almonds, Orange Segments, and Parmesan Frico

This week has been mildly depressing for me. Not only did I graduate from the best four years of my life (aka college—my four year paid vacation), but I also turned 22 years old. Twenty-two is a miserable birthday because it is the first birthday that doesn’t come with any special privileges. On your 16th birthday you look forward to driving, on your 18th you look forward to moving out of the house and going off to college, and on your 21st birthday you look forward to drinking…legally (for a female in Miami, this means you can now get into a club without dressing like a prostitute!). But here I am, turning 22 and I find myself regressing in life; I am leaving college, moving back home, and wearing all the alcohol that I legally consumed over the past year on my hips and thighs. The only thing that I have to look forward to this year is beginning the use of anti-aging products. For some reason this just doesn’t feel like something that I want to celebrate…weird.

So instead of going out and making a big fuss at a restaurant, I decided to celebrate with a homemade BBQ here at home with my family. And oddly, it turned out to be my favorite birthday yet. There was no hype, no pressure, and no disappointment. Just good times with the people that I love the most, doing exactly what I love the most—EATNG!

Of course, I had to have my hand in the cooking and tried out a few new recipes that are certainly blog worthy. The first recipe being one of Giadas’ for Spinach Salad with Citrus Dressing and Parmesan Frico. The dressing is very light and the citrus from the orange and lemon is refreshing. It makes for a perfect summer side or appetizer salad (I would add a protein like chicken if you were to serve it as an entrée salad).

The Parmesan frico is something that I have never made before, but it was super easy and added a great salty crunch to the salad. I prefer I over croutons any day, and it looked pretty impressive aesthetically on top of the salad. Giada suggests using almond slivers in the salad, but I like the more pungent flavor of walnuts and would substitute them next time I make this recipe.

Parmesan Frico Before Baking

To make the Parmesan Frico, grate about 1 ½ cups of good Parmesan cheese on a fine grater. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place teaspoon sized mounds of the cheese onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 3 inches apart from one another. Use the back of the spoon to then gently flatten the mounds into disks that are about 2-3 inches in diameter. Grate freshly ground black pepper over the tops of the cheese disks. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven, let cool completely, and then peel the crisps off the parchment paper and place on top of salad.

{ Ingredients for the Citrus Vinaigrette }

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 ½ teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

{ DirectionsWhisk together all ingredients in a small bowl or shake to combine in an airtight container.

Citrus Dressing

{ Ingredients for the Spinach Salad }

  • 1 package of baby spinach leaves
  • 2 oranges, peeled and cut into segments
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds (or walnut pieces if you prefer)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced

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Mexican Black Bean Salad *****

Mexican Black Bean Salad with Corn

The omelet tied me over pretty well for breakfast, but around 2:30, I was ready for some lunch. Normally, I would head over to Gardner’s Market for a chicken sandwich with goat cheese on ciabatta, but no 700-calorie sandwich for me today! Instead, I went on a 4 mile run and then headed to the fresh market to pick up some groceries. For those of you living in the Miami area, you must check out The Market (I believe it is a chain, but I don’t know how many states they are located in)! They have the best produce and meat selection, and it is usually cheaper than Whole Foods. I picked up a skirt steak marinated in chimichurri, and some vegetables to make a black bean salad. I make this salad all the time, and serve it with chicken, steak, and burgers. I also fold it into omelets and serve it on top of nachos or mixed greens for a Mexican salad. Best of all, it holds in the refrigerator for several days so you can make it on a Monday and use it all week. Avocado tastes great in the salad, just don’t mix it in all at once because they turn brown and make the salad go bad. I cut up and incorporate fresh avocado with each serving to stretch the shelf life.

It is really important that you drain and rinse the black beans well, because the sauce is super starchy. Also, I like to use canned corn without added salt because you can always add more kosher salt to the dish, but you can’t take away!

Also, a good trick to juicing lemons and limes is to roll them first, before cutting them. This makes the fruit much easier to squeeze and you’ll get all the juice.

Note: I had to modify this recipe slightly since I can’t eat honey on my diet, so instead of the dressing listed below, I used the modified version with the asterisk. If you are not on the diet, use the regular dressing because it is soooooo good!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 cans of black beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup diced red bell peppers
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup diced green onions
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Juice of ¾ lime
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of ground cumin

{ To Make DressingWhisk together vinegar, lime juice, honey, salt, pepper, and cumin. Combine the dressing with vegetables.

{ Ingredients Modified Dressing }

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced and mashed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Juice 1 ½ limes (about 3 tablespoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of ground cumin

(Whisk together all ingredients for dressing and then combine with vegetables)

Nutritional Information

The total number of calories in this entire salad are 1,311. The nutrition count is as follows: 18% comes from protein, 4.8% comes from fat, and 77% comes from carbohydrates. If you make this into 6 individual servings, that’s an average of 218 calories per serving.

Cost of Ingredients

The total cost of making this salad is $13.21, based on the assumption that you have a few basic ingredients in your pantry such as vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and seasonings. With the skirt steak, this meal totaled $17.21, but remember that the black bean salad will last several meals. If you get 6 servings out of the salad, that’s an average cost of just $2.20 per serving. Compare that to the price of eating out…not too bad!

Skirt Steak Marinated in Chimichurri with Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions and served with Mexican Black Bean Salad

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Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes *****

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

My go to side dish is always potatoes. If I’m making chicken its roasted potatoes, if I’m making beef its mashed potatoes, if I’m making breakfast its home-fried potatoes, but always, always, always potatoes!! And I have tried a million different recipes in search for the perfect mashed potatoes, but have never found one that really hits the spot. The few recipes that I did really like were difficult to enjoy eating because of the amount of butter and cream used (all recipes by Paula Deen—aka “the butter queen”), and the healthier ones were usually lacking in flavor. But tonight I finally found the right combination of shit to make a perfect (and not ridiculously fattening) batch of flavorful mashed potatoes. I made a staggering 10 pounds to feed my army of friends and they were delicious.

The key to success lies in using just the right potato and I only used Yukon Gold potatoes when making my mashed potatoes. I peel them up, cut them into quarters, and let them boil till fork tender. Then I drain out the water and return them to the stockpot. Then the secret is to put the roasted garlic, butter, cream, and milk onto the drained potatoes and allow to sit covered for about 5-10 minutes before mashing. This allows for the garlic flavors to develop and for the butter to melt down. I then sprinkle the potatoes with about a ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper and use an electric hand mixer to beat them till smooth and fluffy. Of course, you can also mash the potatoes by hand, but I prefer to take the short cut and let the electric mixer do the work for me! These are honestly the best mashed potatoes that you will try….so make them!

Ingredients:

  • 5 pound bag of Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (or reduced fat sour cream, if you’re really watching calories)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)

Directions:

Roasted Garlic: Preheat the oven to 350°.  Separate all gloves from the bulb of garlic, but do not peel them from their skin. Place all the cloves of garlic onto a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Fold the foil into a packet and allow to cook in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. Then remove the garlic from the skins (should slide right out if you do it while its still hot, just be careful of your fingers!) and mash with the back of a fork. Drizzle a little extra olive oil into the mash until you have a roasted garlic paste. This can be made in advance and stored in the fridge!

Peel and quarter all of the potatoes and place into a large stockpot on the stove. Generously salt the water and allow the potatoes to boil in the water until fork tender. Then drain in colander and return to stockpot. Put the butter, roasted garlic paste, milk, cream, salt and pepper over the potatoes and allow to sit covered on counter for about 5-10 minutes.

Then mash the potatoes by hand or with electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.

Covering the Garlic Cloves in Olive Oil before Roasting

Making the Roasted Garlic Paste

Before Mashing

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