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.



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


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.

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. 


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!

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. 


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!


Skillet Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Dijon-Shallot Vinaigrette

Here’s yet another delicious way to prepare brussels sprouts that is both flavorful and healthy. This simple and quick recipe includes the addition of my shallot vinaigrette that I usually serve on cold salad, but it also works so well in hot and freshly-cooked brussels sprouts. Because the brussels sprouts are still hot when you add the dressing, the shallots are ever so slightly cooked and a bit more mellow than raw shallots. This recipe is terrific served as a side dish, or even on its own as a healthy hot salad. 


1 lb. brussels sprouts, rinsed, trimmed, and quartered

¼ c. water

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ medium onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 sliced bacon, cooked and chopped

Robust and Tangy Shallot Vinaigrette 

Salt and pepper

Parmesan, for topping (if desired)

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the brussels spouts to the skillet, along with the water, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the water has cooked out and the brussels sprouts are crispy on the outside. Remove from the heat. 

Place brussels sprouts in a large serving bowl. Add the bacon and dressing (slowly, to taste). Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.


Pandebono (Colombian Cassava Cheese Bread)

This is the best bread you’ve never had. This perfectly cheesy, savory Colombian bread is the stuff of dreams, at least for cheese lovers like me. Frankly, I’m not even sure this is technically bread because it’s mainly made of cheese . . . which gives you an idea of how amazing these little spheres of joy taste. 

Pandebono originated in Colombia, and it is still quite popular there. It is usually served for breakfast fresh and hot, straight out of the oven, and paired with hot chocolate. Pandebono is also perfect for an afternoon snack or a bread for the dinner table. It only takes minutes to prep pandebono in a food processor and about 15 minutes to bake in the oven. 

But caution: once you try these, you’ll be addicted. 


⅔ c. cassava flour

¼ c. masarepa or masa

1 ¼ c. queso fresco

1 c. feta cheese

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Combine the cassava flour, masarepa, queso fresco and feta cheese in a food processor and process until well combined. Add the egg and combine until a dough is formed. 

Form the dough into golf-ball sized balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Serve warm. 

Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Mexican Black Beans

Black beans are amazing. Not only do they taste delicious, they are tiny nutritional powerhouses. Black beans are full of fiber, protein, and folate, and they’re low on the glycemic index. Some studies claim that frequently eating beans can help weight loss and maintenance. Pass the beans!

These black beans are savory and yummy, and are the perfect side dish for a Mexican meal. I like to serve these beans with tacos, inside of burritos, or in a burrito bowl. This recipe takes very little effort, but really elevates your meals to a new and yummy level.


1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ c. onion, diced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

¼ c. cilantro, chopped

Salt to taste

Serve topped with cotija cheese, if desired

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the beans, cumin, and chili powder and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Season with salt to taste. Add the cilantro and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Easy Cilantro-Lime Rice

I love cilantro-lime rice because it’s simple, but tastier than plain ol’ rice. Because of its light flavor profile, it shines as a side item in Mexican meals but is versatile enough to serve with anything from kabobs to grilled fish. 

I like to use basmati rice for this particular rice recipe because it is lighter in the starch category and won’t get sticky. The light and fluffy basmati combined with the fresh flavor of cilantro and zesty lime is just like what you’d get at your favorite burrito place, only better. 


1 c. basmati rice

2 c. water or broth

½ c. cilantro, chopped

Juice from 1 lime

2 tsp. olive oil

Salt to taste 

Cook the rice according to package directions. 

Scoop the rice into a large serving bowl. Add cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil. Stir to combine. Add salt to taste, stir again, and serve.

Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Roasted Red Potatoes with Garlic and Herbs

Here I am with another “less is more” recipe. These classic roasted red potatoes with garlic and herbs are very simple and take minutes to prep. They aren’t fancy or full of innovative ingredients – because they are just perfect without all of the fancy upgrades. In other words, these potatoes are natural beauties. No makeup or filters needed. 


1.5 lb. red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

¼ c. olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp. rosemary

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (save 1 Tbsp. for garnish)

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, except for the salt and pepper. Mix together to combine. Spread out the potatoes on a lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and golden brown. Top with additional parsley for garnish.

Sides Vegetarian

Sweet Corn and Hatch Green Chile Mashed Potatoes

No, sir, these are not your granny’s mashed potatoes. In fact, granny may well have been utterly horrified if these showed up on the Thanksgiving table. But we live in a different time and we are a much spicier generation – at least when it comes to food. 

Sweet corn and Hatch green chiles (and serranos, if you’re brave) are combined with cheddar cheese and mixed into a traditional base of mashed potatoes to make the yummiest mashers ever. These potatoes taste great with just about anything, including fish, chicken, burgers, and who knows – maybe even Thanksgiving dinner. 


2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

½ c. sour cream

¼-½ c. whole milk (your thickness preference)

3 Tbsp. butter

1 4 oz. can of Hatch green chiles, chopped

1 c. of sweet corn kernels

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

1 serrano pepper, chopped (if you like heat)

Cilantro, for garnish

Boil the potatoes in a large pot for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Add the butter, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and milk and mash until smooth. Add the green chiles, serranos (if using), and corn kernels and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately.

Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roasted red pepper hummus is one of the best snacks on the planet. It’s so satisfying, flavorful and good for you. It’s so easy to pick up a tub of hummus while you’re at the store, but it’s really simple to make it at home. Once you make the switch to homemade hummus, there’s just no going back. 

The secret to making a high-quality roasted red pepper hummus is roasting your own red peppers. Sure, you can buy a jar of roasted red peppers and it’s slightly easier – but it’s not even remotely the same, and waaaay more expensive. Roasting your own peppers only takes about 15 minutes and the taste is leaps and bounds better than the jarred version. This smooth and creamy hummus is full of all of the savory flavors of the original, straightforward version of hummus, but showcases an added sweetness and subtle charred taste of the red peppers. It’s delicious paired with chicken, pita bread, grilled veggies, or by the spoonful. 


1 red bell pepper

1 Tbsp. olive oil (for the peppers)

¼ c. tahini, well stirred

Juice from 1 large lemon

1 15-oz can of garbanzo beans

1 garlic clove

2 Tbsp. olive oil (for the hummus)

1 tsp. cumin

Salt to taste

2 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the red bell pepper in half lengthwise, discard the seeds, stem, and membrane, and rub olive oil all of the outside and inside of the pepper. Place the peppers face down on a lined baking sheet. Bake until the pepper is soft and slightly charred, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then, remove the skin. It should come off easily. 

Put tahini and lemon juice into the food processor and process for about 1 minute, or until smooth. Add red peppers, olive oil, garlic, cumin and process again for about 30 seconds. Add the drained garbanzo beans and process for 1-2 minutes, or until very smooth. Add water, 1 Tbsp. at time, if the hummus is too thick. Process again for 30 seconds. Add salt to taste. Serve in a bowl, drizzled in a little olive oil, and top with paprika and fresh parsley – or feta cheese if you’d like!