Category Archives: Side Dish

Wild Rice Kale Gratin

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Sorry for the posting delay. The end of last week was a bit busy. Here’s that promised side dish I’ve been raving about for the last week or so:

As mentioned, I made this for a dinner that I hosted for a few of my high school friends. I am a big fan of kale–especially in the winter. It’s so crunchy and good for you; I can almost feel my arteries clearing up while I eat it. And then I go do things like add it to a gratin and counteract all that artery-clearing with some cheese. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

This recipe comes from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I wrote about last week. It’s a great dish for a crowd; one recipe fed eight of us with plenty of leftover for my lunches (and dinner) over the weekend. Plus the bites of kale and caramelized onion just go so well with the nutty wild rice. Plus, who can resist a dish with a cheesy-panko topping?

So visualize healthy thoughts while you eat this. I’m sure that it counteracts the cheese? Conversely, maybe all the kale intake will inspire you to go to the gym. In any case, you only live once. Might as well eat happy. Continue reading


Winter Kale Salad

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Yesterday was uncharacteristically warm, topping off at over 60 degrees with tons of sunshine and practically no wind. Given that D.C. has been in the 20s and 30s since Inauguration weekend, this random burst of warmth was quite welcome. I wore a dress for the first time in ages and gave my wool coat a break as I opted for a vest.

Don’t get me wrong; I love cold weather. But cold winter days have a tendency to put me in a rut, both wardrobe-wise and foodwise. Not only do I pile on layer upon layer of sweaters and coats, but I also feel like I need hearty, filling food to cope with the season. The problem is that most comfort food consists of rich stews, roasted chickens, and lentil- or bean-filled chili or soup. Needless to say, one gets really sick of eating the “brown” food group most of the time, and yesterday’s weather was the perfect reason to break this habit.

I tried to stick to winter-friendly ingredients–things that you can find in plentitude during the cold season. The crunchy kale pairs well with the bold flavor of blood oranges and the sometimes sharp bites of fennel. Plus, combining blood orange juice with sherry vinaigrette produces a dressing with the perfect amount of tang. And–personal health plug–this salad is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Total win.

So here’s to incorporating color into your winter menu. Happy eating.

** Side note: I’ll post the promised Smitten Kitchen side dish on Friday. I just thought the weather called for a salad post!

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Cheesy Garlic Bread

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All right folks, I’m going to let you in on a secret. This is probably the one recipe that I make which always gets compliments, and I’ve long suspected that it’s the primary reason I get invited back to dinner parties. I have never made this bread and not witnessed it be entirely devoured before the meal is halfway over. Seriously, it is that good.

As you’ve probably noticed, I have a thing for Italian food. Having studied in Florence, my appreciation for Italian cuisine grew exponentially, and I love the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and simple take on food. Italians don’t make garlic bread like Americans do. For them, it’s a simple piece of toast, rubbed with a piece of raw garlic that accompanies soups. It’s fresh. It’s healthy. And it really showcases the garlic.

But, sometimes. . .well, sometimes you need some good ol’ cheesy “American-style” garlic bread. And that is where this recipe comes in. It’s from America’s Test Kitchen. I haven’t a clue if the recipe is still available online somewhere, but I have made this so many times that I no longer look it up–and I’m fairly certain the measurements are quite different at this point. It’s cheesy. It’s buttery. It’s so bad for you that it’s good. It’s basically the polar opposite of actual Italian garlic bread.

But you know what? Sometimes. . . sometimes I’m ok with that.

I hope this scores you many dinner party invites and provides you endless happiness as you lament the fact that Ben Affleck didn’t receive an Oscar nod for directing Argo (I’m bitter). Happy eating.

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Tortellini Pesto Salad

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Remember that time I had a food blog that got put on the back burner first during exams and then while I let my mother feed me over break? Yeah, I do. Sorry ’bout that. Blogger fail. BUT one of resolutions this year is to be better about blogging. That and keeping my “to do” lists organized in a Moleskine journal. Oh, and to pack my lunch more often. Don’t worry, I have already put all of these on a “to do” list.

Anyway, let’s work on two of those, shall we? Today, I bring you a tortellini salad that takes about as long to make as it does to boil some pasta. It features some colorful vegetables–which I think is what most people are hoping to add to their diet around this time of year. The best part, however, is that this salad incorporates my favorite condiment at the moment: red pesto. Made from sun-dried tomatoes, cashews, and some quality olive oil, I first fell in love with it while studying abroad and rediscovered it after picking up a jar from Eataly this past summer. My friend Amanda was kind enough to replenish my stock and to grab a jar of my favorite brand on her last trip to NYC (I have the greatest friends ever). I have yet to make my own, but something tells me that attempt is right down the road.

Happy Eating!

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Snacktime: Roasted Squash Seeds & Eggplant “Fries”

I’ve been doing a lot of researching and writing these days, so, naturally, this mandates an appropriate amount of snacking. These are my latest go-to snacks. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

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Sweet Potato Biscuits

I know this is a terribly timed post as it is still 90 degrees out, but I woke up wishing it was fall.

Maybe I was too warm this morning. Maybe it’s the fact that school starts in a few days. Who knows? What I do know, however, is that, when I was scouring my mother’s kitchen for something “fall-like” for breakfast, I happened across some sweet potatoes.

And then this happened.

Enjoy!

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No-Cook Summer Recipes

Prosciutto and Melon Salad, Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad, Negronis

Summertime is a time for being outside and hanging out with friends and family.  It is not a time for slaving over a hot stove.  Who needs it to be any hotter than it already is?  Luckily, summer is also a time when gardens and farmers’ markets are exploding with great produce that requires little else than a bit of chopping and a dash of salt for eating.

Brandon and I love August, because it means heirloom tomatoes and sweet stone fruits, and last summer, I shared one of our very favorite recipes using just those two ingredients.  This summer, we’ve happened upon another foolproof dish using one of this season’s best ingredients, and to be honest, not one I’ve ever been fond of:  melon.  I’ve always found melon to be cloyingly sweet and unpleasant to eat, but when it’s drizzled in mint-infused balsamic vinegar and wrapped in prosciutto, its deliciousness cannot be denied.

Another score for no-cook summer salads:  they’re easy to pack for picnics and brown bag lunches.  Like Rosemary mentioned in her recipe for wild rice salad, packed lunches can get monotonous, so why not spice them up with an unexpected salad?

Lastly, these recipes are great for brunching and entertaining.  Guests will be surprised that you can pair peaches with tomatoes and ham with melon.  And to really kick it up a notch, serve your salads with an easy, but refreshing summer cocktail, like a Negroni—our unofficial cocktail of summer 2012.  It’s bright red color and citrusy flavor is a great way to get a party started. Continue reading


Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

I love going to the farmers market. It’s always wonderful seeing the assortment of vegetables and fruits that change throughout the season and often vary from week to week. If I had my way, I’d be able to stroll through a different market every day of the week. While that’s theoretically feasible, those little things called “work,” “school,” and–my least favorite–“budget” make it practically impossible. So when I get the time to go, I tend to indulge.

These were so pretty–had to pick some up for my mom!

One of my favorite things to eat is a zucchini blossom. Incredibly delicate with a mild zucchini flavor, these flowers capture the best of summer. I was first introduced to them through my host family in Italy, and I now spend my summer trips to the farmers market crossing my fingers that they are in stock.

Zucchini Blossoms

If you do find some, be sure to make them the day of. They have an incredibly short shelf life. Preparing zucchini blossoms is also pretty easy. Simply make a slit in one side of the blossom, remove the stamen, and wipe the inside and the outside with a damp paper towel. At that point, you are ready to stuff them with whatever you want, batter them, and pan fry ’em up!

Here’s hoping that there are still zucchini blossoms at your farmers market. Happy eating!

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Wild Rice Salad

So the other externs and I have been operating under the impression that our office does not have a microwave. The copy room, while equipped with a fridge and a toaster, lacks that quintessential kitchen appliance that students and workaholics alike cannot seem to live without. Consequently, we’ve been experimenting with different recipes for salads and learning about the joys of eating cold leftovers (pizza still trumps all other foods in this category). Well, turns out we’re idiots. There’s been a microwave the whole time on the basement level. In any case, I have eaten my fair share of salads over the last few weeks, and, given the descent of the summer heat, I don’t really see myself changing that pattern anytime soon–even with a microwave.

I have a thing for nutty grains. Quinoa, farro, barley–I love their texture in a salad. One grain of which I am particularly fond is wild rice. Nuttier and far healthier than the average white grain, wild rice is high in protein and fiber and low in fat. It makes for a great alternative to pasta in salads as well. As per usual, this salad was the result of using the contents of my fridge/pantry.

So here’s to eating more wholesome grains and staying cool in the blazing heat! Happy eating!

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Fennel and Apple Salad

Continuing on my Spanish food kick, the second dish from dinner the other night (and hands down my favorite part of the meal) was a salad that I first had during Sam’s and my trip to Jaleo. Sam had told me about it before we went and insisted that we order the dish. As previously mentioned, I love fennel in pretty much any form. Hand me a bulb and I will eat it raw. This salad, followed closely by some delicious roasted onions, were my favorite tapas/dishes of the night (and that’s a difficult title to win at Jaleo).

The flavors in this salad are fantastic. The heartiness of the walnut and the apple were the perfect tint of winter which, combined with the fennel and chives that reminded me of early spring, made for the perfect “transition salad” between seasons. Ideally, you should probably slice your fennel and perhaps your apple on a mandolin. Being a poor law student, I don’t have one of those. That being said, slicing both really thinly with an extremely sharp knife did the trick for me. This also kept pretty well in the fridge and made for a great side salad at lunch the next day. Also, be sure to slice your apple last, as that will preserve it’s color.

On another note: my friend Sam is off to Italy for four months of culinary school and an internship. If you’d like to keep up with travels and culinary adventures, be sure to check out her blog at travelingwithmymouthfull.wordpress.com. Happy eating!

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