Pickled Red Onions

Inspiration: As I was flipping through my two Rick Bayless cookbooks looking for interesting topping ideas for our Superbowl taco salad bar, this recipe immediately caught my eye. It’s intriguing, different, and something that I’ve never had. Which almost always means that it’s getting made. Plus, I sometimes feel that raw, chopped onions can be overpowering in a salad, so this was a great alternative.

What we Loved: These are everything that I expected (read: delicious) and nothing that I expected (such different flavors than I had anticipated!) at the same time. They don’t have a strong, sour vinegar flavor as I would expect when I think of a standard pickle, nor do they have a strong onion flavor. In fact, the onion flavor is really very mild, leaving a pleasantly tart flavor with hints of smoky cumin and garlic. The onions are nice and soft, and they paired so well atop taco salads that contained so many other Mexican flavors. Brandon gobbled these right up! And aren’t they so pretty?

Helpful Hints: These are very easy to make, but just be sure to give yourself a little time to allow them to sit (and cool, if desired). I let them sit for about 3 hours, then I tossed them in the fridge to cool for another hour or two.

Pickled Red Onions
Source: Adapted from Rick Bayless, Authentic Mexican

1 red onion, cut into 1/8 inch rings
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/3 cup cider vinegar

1. Place the onions in a sauce pan. Cover with salted water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 60 seconds, then remove from the heat and drain the water.

2. Add the cumin, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, and vinegar to the pan. Add enough water to just cover the onions. Bring to a boil again, and boil for three minutes.

3. Remove from the heat, and place into a serving bowl. Let sit for several hours before serving. Chill if desired.

About these ads

Mashed Cauliflower with Onions and Parmesan

Inspiration: I began eating mashed cauliflower as a replacement for mashed potatoes, but you know what? I really, really love it now for what it is and crave it even over mashed potatoes. It’s the perfect option for any type of comfort meal!

What we Loved: I really enjoy mashed cauliflower just with some lots of butter and salt, but by adding Parmesan and loads of onions, it’s really over the top delicious. I could probably eat this for a meal several times a week and be a happy girl. The Parmesan adds a wonderful nutty and cheesy flavor, and the onions make the entire dish taste so rich and, well, oniony. With that combination of strong flavors, you really don’t need any butter or other toppings at all. We both love this preparation and would list it as our favorite way (so far) to enjoy mashed cauliflower.

Helpful Hints: You really can’t have too many onions in this recipe. That sweet, buttery sauteed flavor really is the best part of the dish. I’ve made it several times, and each time, I throw in (a lot) more onions. And, each time, I think that next time, I’ll add more onions :)

Mashed Cauliflower with Onions and Parmesan
Source: Original recipe

I’m afraid that this recipe is going to be rather imprecise. Use as much or as little of the ingredients as you prefer.

Extra virgin olive oil
Onion,  diced
1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
Splash of milk
Kosher salt and black pepper
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onions, and saute until softened, approximately 5 minutes.

2. Place the cauliflower in a sauce pan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Drain the cauliflower, and place it in a food processor.

3. Puree the cauliflower with a pat of butter and a splash of milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Place the mashed cauliflower back into the sauce pan. Mix in the onions and Parmesan. Cover over low heat to keep warm, or serve immediately.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Inspiration: I love getting fresh vegetables from Brandon’s parents’ garden. Armed with a crisper drawer full of cucumbers, I mixed up several batches of the cucumber vinegar salad that my parents always made when I was a kid and this creamy cucumber salad that Brandon’s mom always makes. We had some great cucumber snacks for a few weeks!

What we Loved: Cool and refreshing are the best words that I can think of to describe this salad. Dill, sour cream, and cucumbers work really well together to create a light salad that’s a great alternative when you’re not in the mood for a heavier dish. Served with some fresh tomato slices and a nice sprinkle of salt, this really is the lightest and most refreshing salad. Great for (these last few days of) summer!

Helpful Hints: Brandon’s mom always serves these cucumbers over fresh tomatoes, and I really love that flavor combination best. The juicy, sweet tomatoes complement the flavors of the cucumber and sour cream so well! Sometimes, she’ll serve these cucumbers as a side dish to her stuffed hot peppers, which I also think is a surprising and great flavor combination. This salad is also great just on its own as a light lunch or as a side dish to the rest of your lunch items.

Creamy Cucumber Salad
Source: Brandon’s Mom

2 cucumbers, diced
1-2 slices onion, diced
Sour cream
Dried or fresh dill
Salt and pepper

1. Place the cucumbers and onions in a bowl. Season well with dill, salt, and pepper. Add a big dollop of sour cream, and mix everything to combine. Taste, adding more sour cream or seasonings if desired.

Green Beans Slow Cooked with Bacon and Onions

Inspiration: This was the last of our Southern-style dishes for our pulled pork meal. When my parents, Brandon, and I tried a similar dish at a restaurant, we all loved it!

What we Loved: These beans may not look like much, but don’t let that fool you. The rich and savory bacon/onion flavor is intense and really surprised me on the first bite. I don’t know that I was expecting these to be so good! I’ve quickly steamed beans before and then sauteed them with bacon/prosciutto and onions, and because this recipe uses the same ingredients, I think that I was expecting them to taste simlarly. But the flavors are so much more magnified and concentrated, and of course the texture is different because of the slow cooking time. The beans are soft but not mushy, nice and salty, and just completely coated in that savory bacon/onion flavor combo.  What a great comfort food.

Helpful Hints: Use homemade chicken stock if you can. Since there are so few ingredients in this recipe, I really think that the chicken stock is important to the overall rich and savory flavor. I’m also thinking that some really good thick cut, pepper-crusted bacon would be fabulous in this recipe.

Green Beans Slow Cooked with Bacon and Onions
Source: Tyler Florence

I adapted this recipe to make less. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

6 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lb fresh green beans
2 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Add the bacon to a saucepan, and cook over medium low heat until the bacon is beginning to crisp.

2. Add the onions, stirring well to incorporate them with the bacon and the bacon fat. Continue cooking for approximately 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and beginning to brown.

3. Stir in the beans, coating them in the bacon mixture.

4. Add the chicken stock, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and cook until the beans are soft buy not mushy, between 30-45 minutes.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Broccolini

Prosciutto-Wrapped Broccolini

*Photo Updated July 2012*

Inspiration: Broccolini sauteed in butter is currently one of our favorite simple side dishes and one of our favorite vegetables. If you haven’t had broccolini before, I really recommend that you give it a try. It’s really its own food – much sweeter than broccoli, not bitter at all like broccoli rabe can be – really just a very flavorful, crisp vegetable. With that in mind, how could adding prosciutto be a bad thing?

What we Loved: I think that I’m going to have a hard time not wrapping my vegetables in prosciutto after this. We took a crisp, buttery side dish and added a rich, salty ham to it. What’s not to love? Plus, the added prosciutto bumps up the elegance of the dish just a little bit, and the recipe couldn’t be easier.

Helpful Hints: I originally had the idea to throw this on the grill, but things got hectic so we just used a saute pan. When you add these to the heat, though, the prosciutto almost shrink-wraps itself to the broccolini, so I really think that it would work well in any application without falling apart. Grilling would be wonderful! Also, I’m not going to say that putting some Parmesan beneath that prosciutto would be a bad idea.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Broccolini
Source: Original Recipe

1 package broccolini (ours had 12 stalks)
4 thin slices prosciutto
Kosher salt
Black pepper

1. Place the broccolini in a saute pan, and add approximately 1 inch of water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes.

2. Drain the water from the pan. Remove the broccolini from the pan, and place it on a cutting board. Bundle three stalks together, wrapping a piece of prosciutto tightly around the bundle. Repeat with the remaining broccolini.

2. Add a good pat of butter to the saute pan over medium low heat. Place the broccolini bundles in the pan, seasoning with salt and pepper. Flip after about 2 minutes, when the prosciutto is slightly browned. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes more.

Guacamole Salad

Inspiration: With it being mid- to high-90s here for a while now (I love it!), we’ve been making a lot of fresh salads and salsas (as evidenced by my last few posts). My guacamole recipe is one of our very favorite recipes, so I thought we’d try it out in salad form.

What we Loved: This recipe has the exact same ingredients as my guacamole, only it’s prepared differently. We loved it! The flavor is very much the same, and it works really well as a summer side dish rather than an appetizer, snack, or topping, as guacamole is typically served. I can’t argue with a great new way to enjoy the flavors of guacamole!

Helpful Hints: As I like to recommend with my guacamole, be generous with the salt and the garlic. It really makes the dish!

Guacamole Salad
Source: Original Recipe

1 large avocado, finely chopped
1 roma tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2-3 slices Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
A handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 garlic clove (or to taste), minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Juice from 1/2 small lime

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

2. Cover and refrigerate until cold before serving.

Southwestern Summer Squash Salad

Southwestern Summer Squash Salad

*Photos Updated May 2012*

Inspiration: I tend to go the easy route with side dishes. I spend a lot of time choosing new and more difficult recipes for main courses, so often times, I’ll just throw some of our favorite vegetables alongside or make a couple of standby vegetable side dishes that we love. So when the mood strikes me to be more adventurous with a side dish, I run with it!

What we Loved: I absolutely adored this recipe. It’s light and fresh for summer, it’s full of crisp vegetables, and it has the perfect Southwestern flavors. I particularly loved the taste of the smoky cumin and the tart lime juice, which I really thought were the flavors that took this dish over the top. Combined with spicy jalapenos, tangy tomatoes, and fresh cilantro, there was really a burst of flavor in every bite.  Brandon likened this recipe to a salsa with squash, and I think that’s a great description.

Helpful Hints: Be generous with the cumin and the lime juice. As I mentioned above, I really think that those flavors are what make the dish so great. Also, I think that this recipe would be perfect for a vegetarian main course with a nice glass of white wine or a margarita.

Southwestern Summer Squash Salad
Source: Williams Sonoma

I adapted this recipe to serve two, and it was actually still too much for us. Here’s the recipe as I made it, which I would say easily serves four.

Extra virgin olive oil
1 small zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/8 inch slices
1 small yellow summer squash, trimmed and cut into 1/8 inch slices
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 thick slice red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small jalapeno, minced
Ground cumin, to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
Kosher salt, to taste
Juice from 1 small lime
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Heat a pat of butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini and squash, and saute for 1 minute.

2. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and salt. Cook until the squashes are tender but still a bit crisp, about 3-5 more minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the lime juice and a handful of chopped cilantro before serving.

Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo Salad

Inspiration: We were having a Mexican potluck at work, so I decided to bring a salad. I walked into the store to pick up some tomatoes, and a huge display of heirloom cherry tomatoes sat there staring at me. They were just too pretty to pass up!

What we Loved: I made an extra salad for B and I to have with dinner, and since we both love pico de gallo of any sort, we really enjoyed this little spin on the traditional recipe. We’ve actually never had heirloom tomatoes like this before, so we both had fun trying the different colors and enjoying the different flavors. We loved how each one tasted a little different! Some were sweeter than others, some were a little more tart, some were a little more savory. And the cilantro, peppers, onions, and lime juice really gave this salad a fresh Mexican twist. I served this alongside some chicken burgers topped with muenster and avocado for a light and summery meal that we both really enjoyed.

Helpful Hints: This salad would have been easier to eat if the tomatoes had been sliced in half, but since I was making this the night before a potluck, I was hoping to extend the shelf life of the salad and left the tomatoes whole. If you’re eating the salad right away, I might suggest slicing them. B also suggested keeping the tomatoes whole but using big chunks of onions and peppers rather than mincing them so small, which I also think is a great idea. That way, it would be more like a chunky vegetable salad.

Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo Salad
Source: Original Recipe

The ingredient amounts really aren’t specific here, so I’ll just list what I used. Use as much or as little of everything as you’d like.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes
Hot peppers (I used one jalapeno and one anaheim)
Kosher salt and black pepper
Lime juice

1. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl. Chop the cilantro, onions, and peppers, and add them to the bowl.

2. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Squeeze some lime juice over top, and stir everything to combine.

Roasted Cabbage Wedges

Inspiration: Continuing with our St. Patrick’s Day celebration, I made our yearly corned beef and cabbage on Sunday, and this year I decided to roast my vegetables instead of cooking them in the broth from the corned beef. I roast vegetables a lot, but for some reason the thought of roasting cabbage never occurred to me until I saw this post on Meet me in the Kitchen. What a great idea! I really loved the thought of having a little bit of a different spin on our corned beef and cabbage meal. B and I made it a date with our Irish-American supper, a couple of bottles of Guinness, and a Sunday night movie. I love this holiday :)

What we Loved: In my opinion, roasted vegetables are always better than steamed vegetables, so I knew that I would enjoy this. Roasting just adds a great depth of flavor that isn’t there otherwise. This cabbage was so nice and tender, with great, crispy charred spots and that wonderful browned, roasted flavor. I roasted some carrots alongside the cabbage, too, and they were nice and brown with a wonderful sweet flavor. Before serving, I spooned some of the broth from the corned beef atop the vegetables, and it added another great layer of light, savory flavor. I really enjoyed this and have a feeling that I’ll revisit this recipe. Nothing can beat those crispy browned charred spots!

Helpful Hints: My carrots browned up beautifully, but I would have liked them to be a bit more tender. If you’re roasting both cabbage and carrots, I would suggest parboiling the carrots for a few minutes first to soften them up.

Roasted Cabbage Wedges
Source: Meet me in the Kitchen, originally from Martha Stewart Living

I cut the recipe in half, using only half a head of cabbage for just the two of us. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

1 head cabbage
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Cut the head of cabbage in half through the core. Keeping the core intact, cut one of the halves into four wedges.  Reserve the second half for a later use.

2. Place the wedges on a baking sheet. Drizzle liberally with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

3. Roast at 450 for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Zucchini Saute with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

Inspiration: I have a few vegetable side dish recipes that I always seem to come back to. Mashed cauliflower is a new favorite, and I love these sauteed brussels sprouts. But my favorite vegetable side dish, by far, is this zucchini saute with almonds and Parmesan. I could eat it everyday, and it’s one of the few recipes that I make again and again. I thought that the basic idea of the recipe would lend itself to a lot of variations, and this variation seemed like a great compliment to the salmon with pesto sauce that I was serving for supper.

What we Loved: While I still stand by the zucchini saute with almonds and Parmesan as my favorite, this recipe was pretty great, too. You can add goat cheese to anything and I’ll love it, so the goat cheese was of course my favorite part of the dish. I just love the creaminess and how it compliments the crispness of the zucchini so well. I also adored the buttery, toasted taste of the pinenuts with the rest of the flavors. I love how simple this side dish is to prepare, and it would go well with so many main courses.

Helpful Hints: This is such a simple recipe that my only advice is to try the almond and Parmesan combination, too!

Zucchini Saute with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts
Source: Inspired from Zucchini Saute with Almonds and Parmesan, originally from Kitchenography

1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into thin strips (approximately 10-12) and then cut horizontally into matchsticks
1/8 cup pine nuts
1-2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

1. In a small sauce pan, add the pine nuts and turn the heat to medium low. Toast for 4-5 minutes, stirring the pinenuts often to make sure that they aren’t burning. Remove the pine nuts from the heat when they are golden brown.

2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan. Add the zucchini to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until the zucchini starts to soften, only a few minutes.

3. Mix the pine nuts into the zucchini, and then plate the zucchini and pine nuts topped with the goat cheese crumbles.