Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Classic Provençal Ratatouille

Ratatouille is an old-school French dish that is made of stewed late-summer vegetables and served with crusty, country bread. It’s comforting, rich, and harkens back to a time when slow-cooked food was the norm. Ratatouille is what your French grandma would have made especially for you as a child because she knew you loved it, even though it took a very long time and lots of labor to make. 

The traditional method of cooking ratatouille requires the slow cooking of each ingredient in separate pans in order to cook each ingredient perfectly. Those ingredients are then combined and stewed together to meld the flavors. You can imagine that this process is extremely time-consuming and requires constant babysitting. Ain’t nobody got time for that in today’s world.

My version of ratatouille deviates a bit from the traditional method because I roast the veggies and then allow them to stew together. The result is a balanced and delicious ratatouille that takes much less time and attention to prepare, which is always a good thing. I think grandma would actually approve. 

Ingredients:

5 large heirloom tomatoes

1 medium eggplant, or two small, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 medium zucchini, diced

1 large yellow squash, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ c. olive oil

2 bay leaves

2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

Remove the cores from the tomatoes and pulse them in a food processor until they are saucy, but still a bit chunky (think the consistency of a chunky salsa). 

Place the eggplant on one baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, mix with your hands, and place the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the red pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash on the other baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, mix with your hands, and place the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. 

Place both baking sheets in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. 

While the vegetables are roasting, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, organo, rosemary and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Turn the heat down to low, and allow the sauce to simmer. 

Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir. Place them back into the oven, and cook the eggplant for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Remove the eggplant and add to the tomato sauce. Stir to combine. 

Roast the red pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash for another 10 minutes while the sauce simmers. Remove from the oven and add to the sauce. Allow the ratatouille to simmer for 10 more minutes so that all of the flavors can meld together nicely. 

Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Top with a little olive oil. 

Serve in a bowl topped with Parmesan with a baguette, on top of polenta, or mixed into pasta.  

Categories
Sides Vegetarian

Panfried Lion’s Mane Mushrooms with Sriracha Mayo

If you haven’t entered the amazing world of exotic and gourmet mushrooms, what’s holding you back? There are so many types of glorious mushrooms readily available in grocery stores now. Back in the day, it was button mushrooms or nothing – but my, how times have changed. I’m a HUGE fan of mushrooms of all types, shapes, and sizes. I have even started foraging for them recently, and what an amazing world full of mushrooms we live in! 

So naturally, when I was at the store last week, I saw some locally-grown lion’s mane mushrooms and jumped at the chance to buy them because they are so, so delicious. If you have never tried them, they taste like really stellar mushrooms with a crab-like texture (lion’s mane cake recipe to come soon).  I whipped up this appetizer version of lion’s mane mushrooms served with a side of sriracha mayo, and what a match made in heaven! 

Ingredients:

½ lb. fresh lion’s mane mushrooms

2 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper

Sriracha Mayo 

3 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. sriracha sauce

1 Tbsp. lemon

Cut the bottoms off of the mushrooms and then slice them thinly into strips. 

Mix the ingredients for the sriracha mayo in a small bowl and set aside. 

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes, or until browned and crispy on one side. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder while they are cooking. Flip the mushrooms over with tongs and cook for another 2 minutes, or until both sides are browned and crispy. Note that if the mushrooms aren’t crispy on both sides, they can be bitter, so it’s important to get that crispiness!

Remove and place on a plate. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. 

Serve as an appetizer with sriracha mayo, or on a baguette for a yummy sandwich!

Categories
Sides

Restaurant-Style Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Why are refried beans so good at Mexican restaurants and so NOT good when you buy them canned at the grocery store? It’s because any truly good Mexican restaurant makes their own refried beans. Homemade refried beans made from dried pinto beans are not only leaps and bounds tastier than their canned counterparts (though I can hardly even make this comparison in good faith), they are insanely economical. For just a few dollars, you can make enough delicious beans to last your family for quite a few meals. 

This recipe for restaurant-style slow cooker refried beans really couldn’t be more simple and hands-off. Throw together the ingredients in the morning and leave them to cook while you’re at work, and you’ll come home to a wonderful-smelling kitchen and super yummy beans that taste great in burritos, tostadas, tacos, or on the side of your Mexican favorites. Don’t buy canned beans. Make them yourself, and your family will thank you.   

Ingredients:

1 lb. dry pinto beans, rinsed

1 onion, peeled and quartered

6 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 serrano pepper, quartered

2 tsp. cumin

2 Tbsp. olive oil

8 c. chicken broth or water 

Salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a large slow cooker (except for the salt and pepper). Set to high and cook for 8 hours or low for 12 hours. 

Drain the beans in a colander (reserving about a cup of the water) and place them back into the slow cooker. Using an immersion blender, blend until the beans reach your desired consistency. If the beans are too thick, add some of the cooking water until they are just how you like them!

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or store in an airtight container for later use.

Categories
Sides Vegan

Marinated Grilled Zucchini

This recipe for marinated grilled zucchini is simple, but there’s a little trick that makes grilled zucchini tasty: marinating it. This super-fast, incredibly easy recipe just requires a few minutes of your time prior to grilling and trust me – the very small extra step makes all the difference. 

This marinated grilled zucchini is flavorful, firm but tender, and so much more delicious than you thought grilled zucchini could be. The specific herbs in this recipe are only a suggestion, so if these aren’t your favorites, swap them out for the ones you love. This preparation method might result in you actually enjoying the huge overload of garden zucchini that is likely at your fingertips right now instead of dreading having it AGAIN. Hey, we’ve all been there. Hope this helps!

Ingredients:

3-4 small zucchini, ends removed and quartered lengthwise

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice from ½ lemon

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tsp. oregano

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours prior to grilling.

When you’re ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium high heat. Place the zucchini onto the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Categories
Sides Vegetarian

Calabacitas (Mexican Zucchini and Corn)

Calabacitas, a classic Mexican vegetable dish made from cooked zucchini, corn, onions, and other flavorful add-ins, is the epitome of comforting summer food. Calabacitas is one of those foods that is beloved by so many people in this part of the world for a good reason. It’s bursting with color, health benefits, and palate pleasing flavors. If you grew up eating calabacitas, you probably have some very happy memories of summer dinners with family or perhaps eating these at your grandma’s house. 

Calabacitas is commonly served as a side dish alongside meat, chicken, or fish, but it is also a terrific vegetarian main dish or filling for tacos. It’s also delicious topped with a fried egg and is a very nutritious way to start your day. However you serve this dish, smiles will definitely be on the menu. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 poblano pepper, diced and seeded

1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, diced and seeded (optional: if you like heat)

1 15 oz. can of corn, drained

2 roma tomatoes, diced

2 large zucchini, diced (can also use yellow squash)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp. New Mexican chile powder

¼ c. fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. oregano 

½ c. water

½ c. sour cream

¼ c. cotija cheese or shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with cilantro, green onions, or any other favorite toppings

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, poblanos, and serrano/jalapeno peppers. Cook for 2 minutes until soft. Add the corn, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, cilantro, chile powder, cumin, oregano and cook for 5 minutes. Add water and cook until water is reduced and vegetables are soft, about 5 more minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sour cream and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Enjoy hot!

Categories
Salads Sides Vegetarian

Classic Coleslaw

Sometimes I feel like the classics can get a bit too complicated. While there is certainly a time and place for more fancy versions of the classics, sometimes you just want the good ol’ original version. 

Take this coleslaw, for example. It’s the kind of coleslaw you would’ve gotten at your granny’s house at a family cookout. There’s nothing fussy about it. In fact, it’s about as basic as it gets. And in this case, that’s a good thing. Maybe I’ll make some fancy coleslaw some other time, but today definitely calls for granny’s simple version.

Ingredients:

Salad:

3-4 c. green cabbage, shredded

1 c. carrots, shredded

Poppy seeds, for topping

Dressing:

½ c. mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. white vinegar

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. Honey

Salt and pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place the cabbage and carrots into a large serving bowl. Mix the dressing into the veggies and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before serving. Top with poppy seeds, if desired. Enjoy!

Categories
Pasta Salads Sides Vegetarian

Spring Green Pasta Salad

This spring green pasta salad is perfect for when you’re craving a salad, but you need something a little more substantial. Not only is this bright green pasta salad gorgeous, it is so fresh tasting. All of the best spring veggies are included: baby spinach, arugula, peas, asparagus, fresh parsley and mint. The salty feta and tangy and robust shallot dressing balances out all of the tender sweetness of the veggies, resulting in a tangy-sweet and healthy meal or side dish.

Serve this salad alongside grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp for a side dish, or eat it alone as a meal. If you’d like to add protein, this salad would be great with shrimp or chicken mixed in. You can also sub out any of these ingredients with your other springtime favorites, like baby kale or chard. 

Ingredients:

1 lb. pasta, cooled

3 c. baby spinach

1 c. baby arugula

½ c. peas

1 c. steamed asparagus, cut into pieces

¼ c. fresh parsley

¼ c. fresh mint

½ c. feta cheese

Shallot dressing

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool. Prep the veggies and shallot dressing. 

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing a bit at a time, mixing the salad, until your desired taste is reached. Season with salt and pepper. Serve cold.

Categories
Pasta Salads Sides

Greek Orzo Salad with Feta

This Greek orzo salad with feta just screams summer and practically forces you to invite some friends over to your place for a cookout. This salad is quick to make, full of fresh and simple ingredients, and so deliciously sunshiney. 

It’s so easy to throw this Greek orzo salad with feta together a few hours before a barbeque and have it ready to go when the other food comes off the grill. That way, you can cut down on prep time and actually enjoy your get together with friends. Pull out that bottle of crisp white wine and some appetizers and BE part of the fun instead of cooking while your friends have fun without you.

Ingredients:

Salad:

8 oz. orzo pasta

1 large cucumber, diced

1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved

½ c. kalamata olives

5-6 green onions, chopped

½ c. fresh parsley, chopped

½ c. feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:

⅓ c. olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and allow it to cool. 

In a large serving bowl, combine orzo, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives, green onions, parsley and feta cheese. 

To make the dressing, whisk together all of the ingredients. 

Pour the dressing over the salad, toss to combine and serve.

Categories
Breakfast Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Venezuelan Arepas

If you have never eaten arepas, it’s time to start. These gluten-free disks made of precooked corn flour are incredibly yummy and don’t weigh you down like bread. Most people eat them filled with good stuff, and that stuff can vary by time of day. 

Breakfast arepas can be filled with sweet jam or savory meats, eggs, and cheese. At lunch or dinner, they can be filled with tuna, chicken salad or beans and veggies. Arepas are about as versatile as food can get, and no matter what you put in or on them, they are terrific. 

Ingredients: 

2 c. masarepa (I like P.A.N.)

2 ½ c. warm water

Pinch of salt

Avocado oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Pour the warm water in a bowl and stir salt in to dissolve. Add the masarepa a little at a time until it is mixed together. Knead the mixture with your hands until a dough is formed. Allow the dough to sit for 5-10 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Then, using your hands, pat each ball in your hands until you form a disk that is about ½ inch thick. Repeat with all pieces. 

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat and make sure the skillet is hot before adding the arepas. Brown the arepas on both sides, about 4 minutes per side.

Place the arepas on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until they puff up a bit. You can also place them directly on the oven rack if you like them a little more browned. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool enough to touch.

Cut the arepas in half (hamburger bun style) and fill with your favorite fillings!

Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Easy Baked Tostones

Tostones always remind me of the first time I ever tried Cuban food. I ordered these as an appetizer that day, and let’s just say that I have never been the same since. Crispy, salty plantains dipped in all kinds of amazing sauces? Yes, please. 

So when I was grocery shopping the other day and happened upon some lovely green plantains, I knew what I had to do. I didn’t really want to make a huge mess deep-frying plantains (plus it’s nearly bikini season – T-Minus 2 days to be exact), so I opted for the baked version instead. If you are doubting the yumminess of baked tostones, try these. They are SO good. Dunk them in some guacamole, aioli, aji verde, or whatever makes you happy, and you’ll be a happy camper. 

Ingredients:

2 green (unripe) plantains

4 Tbsp. avocado oil

Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Peel plantains by cutting off both ends and then slicing vertically to remove the skin. You may need to use a spoon to separate the plantain from the peel. 

Slice the plantains into rounds that are about 1 inch thick each. Toss them with 2 Tbsp. of oil and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Take the plantains out of the oven and then smash each one with the bottom of a glass until they are flattened. Toss with 2 Tbsp. of oil, add sea salt to the tops, and bake for 15 more minutes, or until lightly toasted and crispy. 

Enjoy hot with guacamole, aioli, aji verde, or any other yummy dip you like!