Archive for the ‘side dishes’ Category

basic polenta

This basic recipe for polenta will serve you well. Once you’ve mastered this easy step, the sky is the limit to the different ingredients you can add. Although water is the classical choice to cook polenta,  you can also cook the polenta in broth, milk or cream. It all depends on what the final application of your polenta will be.

The basic ratio for polenta is 4 parts liquid to 1 part polenta.

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ingredients

8 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups polenta (cornmeal)

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Pour the cornmeal and 2 cups of the cold water into a large bowl
Whisk it so there are no lumps
Pour the remaining 6 cups of water and the salt into a pot, and bring to a boil
Gradually stir in the polenta and cold water mixture
Let the polenta and water simmer gently
Stir frequently, so there’s no sticking
It will take about 30 minutes until it’s very thick
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chickpeas and onions

I remember when my mother would go grocery shopping, you would never find cans of food in her cart. She would always buy a bag of either dried beans, peas, chickpeas…etc. Cooking the beans from scratch was the thing to do. I do the same now, but I should confess that I used to buy cans thinking that there is no difference.

The taste is better but the real difference is that cooking dried legumes is so easy that after doing it once, you become a convert. The trick is to soak them overnight and cook them at a low simmer or in a crockpot at the low setting with lots of water. Soaking the beans cuts the cooking time considerably, so this  step is necessary. When I cook the beans I always cook more than I need and freeze the rest in individual portions  to be used at a later date.

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ingredients

2 onion (chopped)

3 garlic cloves (minced)

1 tbsp olive oil

parsley / pepper flakes / oregano

salt / pepper  (to taste)

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In a large saucepan, over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onions and garlic

Cook until onions are tender

Add the chickpeas, parsley,  pepper flakes / oregano / paprika

Cook until well coated, stirring occasionally

Serve as a side dish or add to pasta, rice, quinoa or bulgur

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quinoa cakes

The recipe for these lovely quinoa cakes was taken from “cate’s world kitchen”.

However, I doubled the recipe and in addition to the quinoa cakes I also made “quinoa and potato casserole” and “quinoa stuffing” which I can use to stuff peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes…etc.

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ingredients

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 white onion, finely chopped (yellow would be fine too)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs (plus a few extra tablespoons if needed)
1-3 tbsp olive oil

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Stir the quinoa, eggs, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the basil, cheese, garlic, and onion.

Stir in the bread crumbs and let stand so the crumbs can absorb some moisture. The mixture should be easily formed into balls without falling apart. If needed, add a couple tablespoons of breadcrumbs and let stand a few minutes more.

Heat the olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan – the exact amount will depend on the size of the pan you use) in a skillet or wide frying pan over medium.

Pat the mixture into patties and cook in batches, about 10 minutes on each side, flattening so they’re about 1/2″ thick. Flip carefully! They should be browned on one side after 10 minutes – if not, adjust the heat.
Repeat with remaining quinoa mixture.

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sauteed chickpeas

Fried, roasted, sauteed, baked or stir fried. Mix with rosemary, oregano, parsley, or dill,  the sky is the limit.

Any way you choose to make these will result in something delicious that can be used as a side dish, snack, added to a salad, appetizer and so much more.

Google “fried chickpeas” and you’ll find hundreds of recipes using every herb you can imagine.

I coated them with a mixture of parsley, garlic, and pepper flakes, and served them as a side dish with roasted chicken.

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ingredients

3 cups of chickpeas (canned or cooked)

1/4 cup of flour

roasted pepper flakes / parsley / garlic

salt / pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

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Rinse, drain and dry chickpeas with paper towels

Combine flour and seasonings in a bowl

Add chickpeas and slowly toss to coat evenly

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, slowly add chickpeas and cook for 10 to 15 minutes gently tossing them around  until dry, crispy and golden

Place in a bowl and serve 

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The best time to make these delicious marvels is harvest time, when the markets and maybe your gardens are brimming with flavorful zucchinis in all colors and sizes. The same recipe can be used for egg plants, potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes, which I will post  later on.

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ingredients

3 zucchinis, cut in half and then in six pieces lengthwise

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

garlic / parsley / oregano (chopped if using fresh)

salt / pepper

2 eggs

Note: I mix 1/2 the seasonings with the bread crumbs and 1/2 with the eggs

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Preheat oven to 400* F

Either spray baking sheet with olive oil or line with parchment paper

Combine bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper

Beat eggs in shallow bowl along with 1/2 the seasonings

Dip zucchini in egg then coat in bread mixture

Place in single layer on baking sheet

Bake 10 minutes until golden

Turn over with thongs and bake another 5 to 10 minutes on other side

Serve with favorite dip or enjoy alone

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stir fried baby potatoes

This side dish can easily be the main course by adding chicken, beef, veal or lamb. Just start by stir frying the meat first. You can also cut up a few red peppers,  toss everything in a roasting pan and bake for about an hour.

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ingredients

1/3 cup of olive oil

2 lbs. baby potatoes cut in quarters

a few shallots thinly sliced

a couple of cloves of garlic thinly sliced

salt and pepper

bunch of fresh parsley and oregano

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Heat the oil in a saute pan, add the potatoes and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned

Add shallots, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for another 10 minutes

Add parsley and oregano,  mix well and serve

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