Tag Archives: side dish

Fresh Off The Vine

It’s almost that time of year again…tomato season is just around the corner, pretty soon you will see an abundance of these beauties stocked up at your local store or farmers market.

Call me weird, but I love the smell of freshly picked tomatoes off the vine. It reminds me of summer ahhhh. We normally plant tomatoes in our garden, but unfortunately this year we didn’t get around to prepping the garden boxes in our new home in time for the season 😩 Oh well, there’s always next year. Last season we planted over 32 tomato plants…they were literally coming out of our ears! But we enjoyed using them in different recipes, we even made and canned our own tomato sauce. Yum yum, that will have to be another post. Our friends and family definitely were not complaining about our plethora of red beauties.

Did you know there are over 10,000 known varieties of tomatoes? Wowza! It can be overwhelming when trying to decide what kind you want to plant. Here are some of our favorites:

San Marzano – great for sauces
Sungold Cherries – explosive sweet flavor that is amazing in a salad or just snacking on
Radiator Charlies Mortgage Lifter – think tomato and burrata salad! Or piled on a juicy hamburger or sandwich!

Here is a quick and flavorful way to prepare tomatoes to add to pasta (check out my Chicken Caprese Casarecce Pasta recipe), fish or chicken dishes. You can even serve this as a healthy, vegetable side dish.

Sauteed Garlic Tomatoes:

Heat 1-2 tbsp. olive oil in a saute pan
Add in 3-4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
Dice your cherry tomatoes into halves
Saute the tomatoes in the garlic and olive oil over medium heat until tomatoes soften and absorb the flavors of the garlic
S&P to taste and that’s it!

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Who said cooking was a lot of work?! Enjoy.

From our kitchen to yours,

Melissa

Mediterranean Couscous

This delicious mediterranean couscous side dish is wonderful served with fish or chicken or even enjoyed as leftovers the next day, simply add to a bed of mixed greens and drizzle with a vinaigrette dressing.

Ingredients:

12-15 cherry tomatoes, sliced in quarters
2 tbsp. olive oil
3-5 garlic cloves
s&p to taste
1 c pearl (Israeli) couscous
12-15 kalamata olives, sliced in half
1 tbsp fresh mint
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp. fresh parsley
1 1/4 c chicken broth
fresh lemon juice

Cook the couscous according to the directions on the package. Use chicken broth in lieu of the water. This will add additional flavor to the couscous without adding additional salt.

While the couscous cooks, heat the olive oil over med-high heat in a saute pan. Add halved cherry tomatoes and heat until the tomatoes start to soften, add in chopped garlic cloves and saute until the garlic becomes fragrant but keep an eye so you don’t burn.

Add the cooked couscous into the saute pan with the tomato and garlic mixture. Add in sliced olives and fresh herbs. Mix all until well combined and heated through. S&P to taste and then squeeze some fresh lemon juice to taste.

That’s it, pretty simple and super fast. Enjoy!

From our kitchen to yours,

~Melissa

Roasted Golden Beets

Not only are golden beets a sweet treat but they also provide multiple health benefits and make a great addition to your well-balanced diet. Did you know that beets lower blood pressure, aid weight loss and work as an energy and brain booster? So why not fill your plate with these sweet little health boosters.

We’re sharing our roasting recipe as this is our favorite way to prepare.


When you are shopping for your beets at your local farmers market or produce store, look for beets that still have their leafy greens. The greens are a great indicator of freshness. Vibrant and crisp stems without any rot is a sign of a fresh beet. Avoid wilted stems with any signs of rot. When the greens are cut from the beet root prior to your purchase, the beets will actually bleed moisture resulting in loss of flavor and poor texture. So avoid buying beets without stems.

It’s best to take advantage of beets during the seasons which cool weather prevails, such as spring and fall.

  Preparing the beets:

Twist off or cut the greens from the beet near the base. If the greens are young and fresh reserve for another recipe such as wilting or sautéing. We gave ours to our tortoise, who enjoys this tasty treat!

Preheat oven to 350. Rinse beets to you remove any dirt. Peel and rough chop the onion or shallots. Smash and discard the skin of the garlic. Thin slice the orange. Toss all ingredients except water into a large bowl with beets. Toss to coat and then lay into baking dish.  Add water.  

Make sure there aren’t any stems or roots sticking out over the edge of the pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap making sure you get a tight seal. Then cover with aluminum foil. What actually cooks the beets is the steam caught within the pan. This is why you want to get a good tight seal so that the steam doesn’t escape.

For beets 1-2 inches bake 30-45 minutes and for beets 2-3 inches bake for an hour.

After the beets have baked, be very careful opening the corner as the steam escapes. Let cool for about 20 minutes. It’s easiest to peel when warm. Use a paper towel to rub the skin and remove.  Set beets aside to cool and enjoy!

Add to a salad, serve sliced, add to pasta or side dish…the options are limitless.


Ingredients:

  • 2lbs beets (tops removed,washed)
  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 small orange or tangerine
  • 1/4 c vinegar if your choice i.e. White, red, Apple, honey (avoid dark vinegar)
  • 1/4 c EVOO
  • Liberal amounts of S & P to taste
  • 1/2 c water

 

Cheers!

~Melissa & Greg

Poached Artichokes

Happy National Artichoke day! I absolutely love all things artichoke. I mean come on…what an amazing addition to your favorite pasta dish, on a pizza, in a dip, they make a perfect salad topping or seriously just as good all by its little lonesome. How could you not love this versatile veggie. I could eat a whole artichoke just for din 🙂 As we celebrate this fun holiday – National Artichoke day, I share my favorite way to make this tasty side dish, or full meal…enjoy! When shopping for artichokes, I look for medium to large-sized, tight and bright green colored selections. I also keep an eye out for when they are on sale because they can get a little pricey. The prime artichoke season starts in March and continues through late April.
To prepare your artichokes, cut the stem and remove all the little leaves towards the stalk. Cut the tips of each leaf off with scissors (see above). Once the tips are cut, take a large knife and cut the top of the artichoke off – about 1/4″ to 1/2″. Prepare a large pot of boiling water with the following:

1 onion – thinly sliced
1 lemon – thinly sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 teas. red chili pepper flake
3/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. whole black peppercorns

Salt the water like you would when preparing pasta. I don’t mean a pinch, salt it up so it tastes like the sea 🙂  Bring the water to a boil, add 1-2 artichokes and boil/simmer covered for 45 min- 1 hour. Cover the artichokes with a plate if needed to keep them under the water. Test the artichokes by pulling the outer leaves and taste for “doneness”. Once done, remove artichokes from water and drain upside down in a bowl. Serve with your favorite dipping accouterments. Bon appetit and happy National Artichoke Day!