Archive for the 'sides' Category


It just so happens that yesterday was my 26th birthday. Judge all you want to, but I’m one of those people that still gets excited about my birthday, probably in part because my family has a knack for picking out the absolute best birthday presents ever. My parents sent me a new lens for my camera (50 mm f/1.8 yippee!) and my aunt, who always picks out the perfect cookbook for me, sent this:

I know Irish food isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly, but there are some great recipes in here, and the photography is beautiful. I also love the little stories profiling various people and places. Since Ireland is one of my favorite places on Earth, I’m really excited about adding this to my growing collection of cookbooks.

Colcannon combines two of my favorite vegetables, kale and potatoes, and it’s nice and simple comfort food. I have to argue that the pat of butter on top is a crucial component, because it melts into the potatoes and gives them an alluring, velvety texture.

(adapted from The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews)

serves 8

5 or 6 russet potatoes
2 tbsp butter, plus additional pats for serving
3 cups chopped kale (leaves only)
1 1/3 cups whole milk
4 green onions, chopped
salt and pepper

Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover about halfway with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Pour out the water but keep the potatoes in the pan and let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in a wide skillet and add the kale. Cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Bring the milk and green onions to a simmer in a saucepan and add a few pinches of salt and pepper. Stir in the kale, turn off the heat, and keep covered.

Peel the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Add the milk and kale, and mash until nearly smooth, seasoning with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Divide among bowls and top each serving with a pat of butter.

Amazing Sweet Potato Fries

I wouldn’t put amazing in the title for nothing.

Well, maybe I would, but right now I promise I’m not exaggerating. These have completely changed everything I ever though oven-baked fries could be. They’re awesome on their own, and even better with ketchup. The nut butters don’t overpower the flavor of the sweet potatoes at all.

Angela made hers with parsnips, but when I got to the store and sweet potatoes cost less than half as much as parsnips, my mind was pretty much made for me. Plus I love sweet potatoes in all forms, so it worked out pretty well. I divided mine among two baking sheets just so they weren’t crowded and had ample air space for crisping up. The texture isn’t exactly like deep fried fries, but they’re pretty divine in their own way.

(adapted from Oh She Glows)

2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into fry-shaped strips
1 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp chunky peanut butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 F and line 2 baking sheets with Silpats or parchment.

Put the sweet potato strips in a large bowl and toss with the oil, salt, and nut butters until evenly coated (It’s a little messy, but works best with your hands).

Spread the fries evenly on both baking sheets (make sure they’re not touching), and bake for about 45 minutes or until tender.

Serve with ketchup.

Eggplant and Cashew Barley

Last night I came to the slightly painful realization that my photos have gotten incredibly boring. Food + white dish + white background over and over. And over. So today I went to the craft store (where I feel completely out of place because I’m not crafty in the slightest) and picked up some paper and fabric so I can spice up my pictures. My wonderful husband also moved the light box from the garage/basement up to a room at the front of the house that gets great light at dinner time, so I’m hoping this will improve my photo quality at least a little. I’m just going to let the picture above be one of the last of my “white phase.”

This dinner is incredibly flavorful, with an unusual combination of ingredients that work together surprisingly well: cardamom, cinnamon, mustard seeds, eggplant, roasted red pepper, cashews, and a little lemon. It sounds like a really weird mix, but trust me, it’s comforting and just exotic enough to get you out of the rut using the same flavors over and over (which you might not do, but I kind of end up relying on garlic, soy sauce and little else a lot of the time). Although the recipe calls for rice (and I have no doubt rice is great in it), I’m keeping my pearl barley kick going.

(adapted from Fresh Indian by Sunil Vijayakar)

1 1/3 cups pearl barley, soaked in warm water for 30-40 minutes, then drained
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 whole dried red chiles (like Chiles de Arbol)
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1 medium eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp turmeric
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 lemon
1 red bell pepper, roasted and thinly sliced
1/2 cup cashew pieces
chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the shallots, mustard seeds, chiles, cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaf and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the eggplant and turmeric, mix to combine, then add the water. Stir in a few pinches of salt, then turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the water has absorbed and the barley is tender (if it’s not soft, add a little water and continue cooking).

Turn off the heat and let stand for about 5 minutes, then sprinkle with lemon juice, pepper, cashews, and cilantro.

Barley Risotto with Spinach and Walnuts

Over the last two months, I’ve gone from thinking barley was just in weird soups at mediocre restaurants to being more than a little obsessed with it. I recently had a craving for risotto, and when I saw that Heidi Swanson had made some with barley in Super Natural Cooking, I was immediately inspired.

I made a few changes to the recipe in the book because using both orange and lemon seemed like it would be citrus overkill for me. I also used spinach instead of arugula because I just like spinach a whole lot more. This doesn’t get as creamy as risotto made with arborio rice, but it’s much healthier and Mike called it one of the best things I’ve made lately (which is probably because my attempt at vegan macaroni and cheese last night was a GIGANTIC flop). So, you want risotto but you’re trying to eat more whole grains? Here you go!

(inspired by Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few pinches of salt
2 cups pearled barley
1 cup white wine
5 cups vegetable broth
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, shallot, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes.
Add the barley and salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a simmer in a separate pan.
Stir in the wine and keep at a simmer. Stir in the broth, one cup at a time, waiting until most of the liquid is absorbed between additions. You may not need to add all the broth, but you’ll know when you’ve added enough because the barley will be tender and most of the liquid will be absorbed.
Stir in the lemon zest and spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted.
Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan and sour cream. Taste and add salt if needed, then serve, sprinkled with chopped walnuts.

Barley and Roasted Root Vegetables

If you’re ever hesitant about trying a new vegetable, roast it with tons of butter and it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll fall madly in love. At least, that was my experience with parsnips. I had never tried one until about two years ago, when Mike brought some home from the store, sliced them up, and roasted them with ungodly amounts of butter. Ever since then, I’ve been smitten.

When I saw this recipe, I immediately knew parsnips would play a major part in it, but I was also excited to try turnip and rutabaga for the first time. (The verdict? They’re good, but not as good as parsnips).

Anyway, since winter is prime root vegetable time, this is a perfect dish to make right now. The original recipe called for wheat berries, but I used barley because that’s what I had in the cupboard. I suspect it would be good with whatever whole grain you happen to like. I added some orange zest, toasted walnuts, and balsamic vinegar, but there are a whole bunch of other ideas for making this on David Lebovitz’s post.

(adapted from David Lebovitz)

1 1/2 cups pearled barley
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
bay leaf
2 lbs mixed root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnip, rutabaga), cut into 1/2″ dice
1 red onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
zest from 1/2 an orange
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the salt, bay leaf, and barley. Simmer, partially covered, until the barley is tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered until you’re ready to mix up the salad.

Toss the vegetables, onion, olive oil, thyme, a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper and spread on a sheet pan. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender.

Toss the barley and vegetables together in a large bowl with the balsamic, walnuts, and orange zest. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Curried millet with browned onions

When we lived in California, my husband and I were OBSESSED with Indian food. Seriously, I have to type it in all caps because it was not just some fleeting fondness. Our pantry was stocked with all the essentials: multiple kinds of dal, asafoetida, amchur, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, atta and chapati flours, and whatever else I could get my hands on at the Indian grocery store.

We were constantly on the lookout for Indian restaurants, and that didn’t stop once we got to Thailand. We quickly found our favorite vegetarian South Indian place, which happened to be just around the corner from our apartment. I was in heaven with such easy access to perfect iddli, sambar, and dosa.

And then the honeymoon was over. I realized I was tired of Indian food. Fortunately, since we were in Thailand, there were plenty of other options. Then when we moved on to Seoul, good Indian food became harder to come by, which was fine with me.

But the other day, when I was looking for ways to use millet (my new favorite whole grain – if you haven’t tried it yet, you should!), this recipe popped up and I realized I kind of missed those Indian flavors I used to be obsessed with. So I made this, and it was divine. The browned onions give it a subtle sweetness, and the cumin and curry provide that warm, exotic flavor that drew me into the world of Indian cuisine in the first place.

The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t need any exotic ingredients to make it. Although I highly recommend getting your hands on some Madhur Jaffrey books and visiting an Indian grocery store, this would be a good way to ease yourself into Indian cooking.

(adapted from Food and Wine)

1 cup millet
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 serrano chile, finely chopped (plus a few thin slices for garnish) – leave this out if you don’t want any spice or increase it if you love spicy food
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tsp curry powder

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the cumin seeds and onion. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally until the onions are evenly browned (about 20 minutes).

Add the garlic and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Stir in the millet, salt, serrano and water, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the millet is tender.

Remove the cover and stir in the yogurt, curry powder. Cook until thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, then serve garnished with a few slices of serrano.

Jijimi (Korean Vegetable Pancakes)

When I thought about moving to Korea, I imagined that I would become an expert on cooking Korean food. I knew I’d have a kitchen and full access to all the ingredients I might need to make just about any Korean dish I wanted.

I didn’t really think about the fact that I might not feel like making Korean food every day, or that what I’d end up craving about 80% of the time would be comfort foods from home (including things I never really even ate when I was still in America). But instead of making my own kimchi or perfecting bulgogi, I have been sticking to pretty basic non-Korean food.

I saw jijimi (also called buchimgae, according to my students) listed on a few menus (mostly drinking places, because apparently it’s usually a bar snack), and thought it sounded like something that was worth a try. I did a little web research, and ended up making this, which seems to be a cross between Japanese okonomiyaki and jijimi. There are numerous possibilities for adapting this recipe to include different vegetables and toppings, and I fully intend to experiment with it some more. I think it’s pretty tasty dipped in soy sauce mixed with vinegar or topped with kimchi, and of course, a nice cold beer would be a welcome accompaniment.


1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup water
a generous pinch salt
2 c thinly sliced cabbage
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil

for serving:
soy sauce and rice vinegar

Whisk together the water and egg, and gently stir in the flour and salt. Fold in the vegetables and sesame seeds. It won’t look like typical pancake batter, it will probably look more like coleslaw.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over high. Swirl the pan so the oil is evenly distributed. Pour the cabbage mixture into the pan and spread to the edges so it is evenly thick.

Cook 3 to 4 minutes each side, or until golden brown. If the bottom begins to burn but the top is still very runny, turn the heat down.

Flipping can be a bit of a challenge. If you need to, slide the pancake, cooked side down, onto a plate, and then invert back into the pan to finish cooking. When cooked through and golden on both sides, cut into quarters to serve.

Mix the soy sauce and rice vinegar in a one-to-one ratio for dipping, or top with kimchi.


Ricotta Stuffed Tomatoes


As tempted as I was to eat all my homemade ricotta by the spoonful, I wanted to figure out a recipe that would really let it shine. I’ve made ricotta-stuffed tomatoes before, but this time I decided to make them a little heartier by mixing cooked millet and ricotta in a one to one ratio, with some garlic and basil for flavor.

If you’re trying to eat more whole grains but can’t stomach a big plate of them, this is a great way to sneak them in. Millet is really easy to cook (just boil 2.5 cups of water with a pinch of salt, stir in 1 cup of rinsed millet, and simmer for about 25 minutes with the lid on, then fluff with a fork), and is a good source of some key nutrients, including magnesium.

I used dried herbs because I can’t find fresh, but I think the flavor would be a lot brighter using fresh basil and oregano. This is a great place to use sub-par tomatoes, because the time in the oven helps concentrate their flavor, so even if they’re slightly under-ripe (like most tomatoes I find in Korea are), they’ll taste pretty good!

9 medium tomatoes
1 cup ricotta
1 cup cooked millet
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 egg
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Using a small, sharp knife, cut the top off each tomato. Carefully scrape out the flesh and seeds, so you’re left with a hollow cup.

In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Scoop a some of the filling into each tomato so it is full but not over-flowing.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden.

Stove-top “baked” beans


How could anyone read this post and not want to try them? (If you’d rather save yourself a click, it’s the Amateur Gourmet’s post on baked beans, which he says are “the best beans of your life”)

I have some issues with beans, though. It took me a really long time to figure out how to cook dried beans and not end up with either chalky little nuggets I couldn’t stomach, or a whole pot of flavorless mush. I tend to like canned beans, but I usually think baked beans are too sweet. So really, it wouldn’t take much to make these the best beans of my life.

I took some serious liberties with this recipe, because I don’t have a Dutch oven, I can’t find dried kidney beans, and I didn’t want to use bacon (or wait 6 WHOLE HOURS). But even with those rather significant changes, these really were fabulous (and I imagine that with the bacon, they would be even better).

Just sweet enough, and with a little bite, these beans held their shape and still got amazingly flavorful after just an hour and a half on top of the stove. I can promise you, you’ll never want to go back to canned baked beans again!

(inspired by Barefoot Contessa via Amateur Gourmet)

2 cans kidney beans
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp veg oil
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Drain the beans and reserve the liquid.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the beans, ketchup, maple syrup, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and a pinch of salt. Stir well.
Turn heat down to low, so that the mixture simmers. Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for an hour. If the beans begin to look dry, stir in some of the liquid from the cans.
Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Cook for an additional thirty minutes, then serve.

Broccoli Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes


Yesterday was a huge day for me: I purchased cheese for the first time in 6 months. The Costco (yes, there’s really Costco here!) we went to had a decent selection of cheese, but a lot of it was really expensive and only came in gargantuan packages. I would have loved to get some gorgonzola, but 2 pounds seemed like a little much.

So I sensibly opted for a large block of medium cheddar. I knew I could use it in all sorts of recipes and could easily snack on way too much of it (which I’ve already done). I’m definitely planning on making a nice big pot of my favorite Macaroni and Cheese, but first I decided to whip up some of these twice-baked potatoes.

I debated whether or not I should cook the broccoli before I used it in the filling, and I’m glad I didn’t. It softens just enough when it’s baked, and I think if I had cooked it first, it would have gotten too mushy. I might try doing it that way next time, though, just to compare.

Broccoli Cheese Potatoes



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