Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’

Mediterranean Rice

November 24, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes

You can make plain rice any day of the week, but with a few extra items (many you probably already have in your pantry) you can take an ordinary side-dish and turn it into something a bit more interesting.

Cooking the rice in tomato juice adds a deep flavor to the base of this recipe. Add to that the salty capers and robust sun-dried tomatoes so it takes on a lighter note. And, finally, who can resist the taste of an artichoke heart, which rounds out this dish.


Grilled Zucchini with Goat Cheese and Fresh Herbs

August 03, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Side Dishes

You ever have those moments where you’re smacking yourself for not thinking of something sooner? Well, I had that in the creation of this recipe.

You see, I was the recipient of a GIANT zucchini from a friend’s garden. (Apparently, she has these monster plants, that spit out monster zucchinis that hide under the leaves until they practically grow legs, walk up her stairs and knock on her door to ask to be let in.)

So, I’m staring at the mutant she gave me…as it stared back at me from the counter. I wanted to grill it, but wanted to do something different. I had goat cheese, I had some fresh herbs and I had olive oil. But, one thing stood in my way, it was 847 degrees outside and I really didn’t want to have to stand there flipping things on a hot grill.

Then, I heard a little tiny voice coming from the zucchini that said, “Hey, you. Slice me vertically, but not all the way through. Stuff the goat cheese and herbs in the slices, drizzle on olive oil, salt and pepper, then wrap me in tin foil.”

Whaaaaat? Seriously? Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

I began to joyously prep the zucchini, happy at my task. When, suddenly, the potatoes in the cupboard started singing: “Grill us, maybe?” And, the knives came out so they could become some packet potatoes (mainly so I could get that song out of my head). I chopped up those lyrical potatoes, drizzled with olive oil, threw in some chopped garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano and basil.

I then plopped the humungoid zucchini on the grill next to the packet potatoes. I only came back a few times just to roll around the zucchini and flip the potato  packets to ensure everything was evenly cooked. Ta-da. No hot grill babysitting required.

Once off the grill, the zucchini was roasted to perfection and the goat cheese melted into a gooey loveliness of fresh herby goodness. It could either be served with each person receiving a whole slice, or cutting the slices into pieces. I chose to cut it into pieces.

I could sit back and enjoy this delectable grilled behemoth with a glass of wine – happy the vegetable voices inside my head subsided. (But, hey, with the idea that giant zucchini had, they can talk to me whenever they’d like.)

Grilled Zucchini with Goat Cheese and Fresh Herbs
by Megabeth

Zucchinis (the fatter the better, the more the merrier)
Goat cheese
Olive oil
Fresh herbs – oregano, basil, parsley, etc., chopped
Salt and pepper

Starting close to the top of the zucchini, slice lengthwise towards the other end, but do not cut all the way through. Place zucchini on aluminum foil.

Squish – yes, that’s a technical cooking term – as much goat cheese and the herbs as you like into the gaps.

Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle olive oil over the zucchini.

Wrap zucchini up and place on hot grill for 15 – 20 minutes (depending on size of zucchini). Rotate periodically so as not to scorch on one side. Carefully remove foil and enjoy!





Celery Root Salad

January 22, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Salads, Side Dishes

Much like in the movie Ratatouille, there are many flavors that can take me back to childhood, and this is one of them. This celery root salad was a ubiquitous feature on my grandmother’s table whenever we came to visit. My mother now makes it for any special family meal.

Celery root, or celeriac, is really an ugly little thing. It’s a funny looking bulb, with dirt, and it’s hard to see it’s potential. But, once you peel off all the dirt and little poky bits, it’s a flavorful ingredient. It’s got a very unique taste which could be described as a very slight celery flavor with a little hint of parsley.

The recipe was transcribed by my grandmother from my great-great-grandmother. My mother still has that recipe card. It’s basic in its steps and has no measurements. I suppose the recipe card serves as a reminder of previous dinners and memories made while eating the salad. This salad works in its simplicity and is left to the chef’s individual preference to create that heirloom flavor.

Celery Root Salad
By Megabeth’s Great-Grandmother

celery root
red onion
fresh parsley
oil (good olive oil)
vinegar (red wine or white)
sugar, to taste

Clean dirt off celery root. Cut off green tops. Use vegetable peeler to remove outside of root until just white flesh is revealed. Chop into bite size pieces. Chop carrots.

Boil water in large pot. Add chopped celery root and carrots. Boil vegetables until fork tender.

Drain and add to bowl. (Megabeth Mother’s note: Or, use a flat container so the flavors can be evenly distributed when it’s marinating.)

In separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar and sugar. About 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar. About a teaspoon of sugar. Drizzle over vegetables, add parsley and let marinate in refrigerator until chilled.

Spinach Gratin with Pecorino Toscano and Pine Nuts

January 08, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes

This is a recipe worthy of being doubled or even tripled. Be forewarned, the measurements below make just enough for two people as a side dish. The curry flavoring and the bite of pecorino cheese adds a unique twist to how one may normally eat spinach. I wish I had made more because it was certainly the star of the show the night we ate this for dinner.

Spinaci Gratinati con Pecorino e Pinoli
Spinach Gratin with Pecorino Toscano and Pine Nuts
from the July/August 2011 issue of La Cucina Italiana

  • Fine sea salt
  • 3 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 1/2 pounds spinach, tough stems removed
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces Pecorino Toscano or other mild sheep’s milk cheese, grated on large holes of box grater (1 cup)
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, spread pine nuts on a baking sheet, bake until fragrant and just lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let nuts cool.

Submerge spinach in the boiling water and cook until just wilted, about 1 minutes. Drain in a colander, squeezing to extract excess water.

Heat broiler. In a large gratin dish, spread half of the spinach. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, then sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese and pinch salt. Top with remaining spinach. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese, pinch salt and curry powder.

Broil until cheese is lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with pine nuts and remaining 1/4 cup cheese; continue to broil, rotating pan once halfway through, until cheese is golden, about 2 minutes more.

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