Side Dishes

Wheat Berry Salad with Corn, Asparagus, Tomatoes and Pesto Vinaigrette

September 23, 2012
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Here in Southern California, summer is not quite over. We’ve been pushing temperatures in the 90′s for the last two weeks and it certainly doesn’t inspire any cooking which requires slaving over a hot stove or even turning on the oven. That’s why I’m so enamored lately by cold salads which can do double duty. They can serve as a side dish or the main course later in the week (assuming you have leftovers!).

What is a wheat berry?

This is wheat in its whole grain form. According to Grain Mains wheat berries are one of the most common whole grains and appear in many forms; hard red wheat berries (hearty and firm in texture and flavor), soft white what berries (often used to grind into flour), whole grain farro, spelt berries, kamut, and whole grain bulgar (not the processed kind which removes the bran).

The book recommends pre-soaking the …

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Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Olives, Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Preserved Lemon

August 21, 2012
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It’s been hot here in Southern California. Really hot. Hot, as in the lawn has turned crispy, hot. Hot, as in run the A/C all night long, hot. Hot, as in melt your ipad case in the car, hot. Yep. That last one happened to my husband. He’s lucky the ipad still works.

When the weather is as unrelenting as it has been, I only want to eat cold food, and salads like this one serve double duty. I make one each weekend, usually with some sort of whole grain, rice, or pasta and lots of vegetables mixed in. We eat them first with a piece of  easily grilled protein (chicken or fish grilled outside to keep the house cool). Then I’ll serve the rest of the salad later in the week as a quick veggie lunch or with something like leftover chicken tossed in. These Simple Sunday Salads

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Moroccan Beet Salad with Tangerines and Cinnamon

March 21, 2012
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A couple of months ago I mentioned I got Paula Wolfert’s gorgeous book, The Food of Morocco as a gift. The first thing I made was preserved lemons but had to wait a month for them to finish curing. Then, a few weeks ago, we had family visiting and I decided to go all out, making five dishes from this book, a veritable Moroccan feast. In later posts I will share some of the other dishes I made, but today we’ll start with this beet salad. It’s a very simple salad, but it packs a lot of flavor. With the leftovers, I used the beets in other salads and they were fantastic (if not better) even a few days later.

The original recipe did not include tangerines or their juice, but I wanted to add a little color and sweetness so considering that tangerines were named after Tangiers Morocco, it’s …

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Sautéed Kale with Sumac Yogurt and Roasted Almonds

February 14, 2012
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I’ve always said “I don’t like cabbage.” At least I thought I didn’t, until I had this dish. I am now a convert.

I’m still not a huge fan of regular head cabbage. I’ve never understood the allure of traditional cole slaw, brussles sprouts (I don’t care how you roast them or how much bacon you add) and I don’t particularly care for kimchi. If that means my foodie card will be revoked, so be it.

But I’ve always liked my sauteed greens. Give me spinach, swiss chard, or beet greens and I’m a happy girl.  Put napa or savoy cabbage in my stir fried noodles and I’ll slurp it up. I’ve always associated kale with “cabbage” and therefore thought I didn’t like it. I was wrong. I think the “kale is healthy” craze of the last couple of years and the abundance of kale chips, kale soup and kale …

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Apple Cider Roasted Carrots with Rosemary and Nutmeg

November 14, 2011
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Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, probably because it’s all about food and there’s no gift buying pressure.

Our family’s Thanksgiving tradition is a little different from most. It started back when my mother was a young graduate student at Berkely in the early 70′s. I remember it clearly and I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old at the time. We had about 25 people over to dinner and they were all “friends and orphans” with no family in the area and nowhere else to go. We didn’t have a lot of money, but somehow my mom managed to put on an amazing feast.
Over the years little has changed. We still have somewhere between 15 and 25 people at dinner, mostly friends and sometimes the occasional relative. The players have evolved to be a greater proportion my generation’s “friends and orphans” but the love and familial …

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Grilled Asparagus and Spring Onions with Dijon Vinaigrette

June 28, 2011
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Sometimes the best meals are those which are uncomplicated; those which allow you to share a glass of wine and chat with your guests while cooking at the same time. This dish is one which will enable you to do just that. You can even prepare it before your guests arrive, because it’s just as good at room temperature as it is hot off the grill. In fact, it may even be a little better if the vinaigrette has time to “marinate” the vegetables a bit.

I used Mexican Spring Onions in these photos, but you could also use the ones which are slightly pink and oblong at the base. Spring onions can range in size from a large version of the standard green onion to small round bulbs about 2 inches in diameter. For the larger ones, it’s a good idea to cut them in half so they cook …

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