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shaved fennel, white bean + tuna salad

17 Jan

shaved fennel & tuna2

The chef at the restaurant where I work makes this salad sometimes.  It’s filling and delicious and easy to make.

I love it so I’ve done my best to recreate it to share with you fine people.

And eat it.  I also made it so I can eat it.

Makes 6 side servings

shaved fennel & tuna

ingredients

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 500 ml can white kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 generous handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 c tuna packed in olive oil (2 small cans)*
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

*Because the salad is so simple, the tuna makes a big difference so use the best quality tuna packed in olive oil that you can find.

preparation

Cut the fennel bulb in half and use a mandolin to slice it as thinly as possible.

In a large bowl combine shaved fennel, white beans, parsley, tuna (not drained), white wine vinegar, olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Mix together with a fork until tuna is broken up into evenly distributed small pieces and everything is coated with vinegar and olive oil.

For best results let the salad sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes to let the flavours meld and let the fennel soften slightly.

The salad will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

shaved fennel & tuna1

asparagus soup + lemon creme

30 May

Hey everybody.  Hi.  I haven’t posted in a long time… I’ve been busy…

Lazy, I’ve been lazy.

But also a bit busy.

But mostly lazy.

Anyway, I have for you here my most favourite spring soup.  It’s super simple – just asparagus, shallots, cilantro and a bit of butter – and it’s good warm or cold.  Also, it takes about 15 minutes to make, including prep.

The original recipe from Bon Appetit calls for the soup to be strained but I prefer not to do that, I like the chunks.  The key is to choose the thinnest asparagus stalks you can find so the soup won’t get that stringy, woody texture.  If you must use thick stalks and you’re not planning to strain the soup, just peel them before cutting them up.

Makes 6 appetizer servings

asparagus soup + lemon creme

from Bon Appetit, March 2006

ingredients

soup

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 cup shallots, chopped
  • 2 pounds asparagus (thin stalks), trimmed + cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 3/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

lemon creme

  • 1/4 cup sour cream (or creme fraiche if you can find it)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

preparation

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sautee until soft – about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and cilantro – stir 1 minute. Add vegetable broth and simmer until asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes.

Puree and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir sour cream, lemon juice, and lemon peel together in small bowl. Divide soup among bowls. Top with a dollop of lemon creme and serve.

root vegetable salad

20 May

Apparantly there are a whole bunch of really colourful root vegetables that I didn’t know about… I thought the little purple fingerling potatoes I bought were just purple on the outside and would be normal potato colour inside.  Wrong!  They’re purple the whole way through!

I don’t know what kind of crazy wizard did this to vegetables but I like it.

Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the potatoes are just potatoes, but the candy cane beets and yellow beets taste much sweeter than your average (but still lovely) red beet.

Makes 4 side servings

$2.10 per 2 servings

root vegetable salad

ingredients

  • 1 candy cane beet, peeled
  • 1 yellow beet, peeled
  • 2 handfuls of green beans, tipped and tailed
  • 8 fingerling potatoes, cut into coins
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tsp cider vinegar

preparation

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut the peeled beets in half lengthwise.  Set the halves down on the flat side and cut them in half lengthwise again, cut them crosswise into thin slices.

Toss sliced beets and potatoes with salt, a generous amount of pepper, and enough olive oil to coat.

Place mixture in a shallow ovenproof dish and roast until vegetables are just tender (beets should stay a bit firm) – 25 to 30 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, bring a pot of water to a boil and add green beans.  Boil for about 30 seconds then transfer to an ice bath or run under cold water to stop cooking.  They should be bright green and slightly tender but still crisp.

Whisk together mustard, cider vinegar and 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Combine beets, potatoes and green beans in a large bowl with mustard vinaigrette.  Toss to coat.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

The beets and potatoes can be cooked on the barbeque in a roasting basket over medium-high heat if you don’t want to use the oven.

orzo salad

12 May

Just a quick and simple side dish.  You can cook the orzo as much as a day ahead of time, throw it together with the rest of the ingredients and have it ready in five minutes.

It goes well with just about anything… rich fish like salmon or trout, grilled sausages, portobello caps, chicken, and so forth.  Makes great leftovers too.  Miam!

Makes 4 servings

$2.45 per 2 servings

orzo salad

ingredients

  • 1 c orzo
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 c cherry tomatoes
  • 2 heaping tbsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 2 heaping tbsp capers
  • 1 c pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt

preparation

Cook orzo and strain.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for about 20 seconds.  Add tomatoes, capers, basil, olives, salt and juice of half the lemon.  Cook until the skin begins to come off of the tomatoes – 2 minutes.  Add cooked orzo and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook until orzo is warmed through – 1 minute.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Garnish with the remaining lemon half, sliced, and basil leaves.

potato + leek + swiss chard soup with bacon wrapped seed onions

1 May

Because it’s raining and I have a hangover and this will fix all that…

ps. For anyone who came here via the ‘vegetarian’ tag and is all “wtf bacon”, it’s a perfectly good meat-free soup without the bacon wrapped onions.  That is why.

Makes 6 servings

potato + leek + swiss chard soup with bacon wrapped seed onions

ingredients

soup

  • 8 medium red potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 6 c vegetable broth

onions

  • 6 skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 24 seed onions

preparation

soup

Set a large pot with butter over medium heat.  At the same time, heat broth in a separate pot over high heat.  Once the butter has melted, add leeks, pepper and garlic and sautee until leeks are soft – about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and hot broth.  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender – about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, cut stalks out of the swiss chard and coarsely chop the leaves.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add chard.  Sautee for 1 minute, until leaves are wilted, then add 1 tbsp water and cover the pot for another minute.

Puree soup and stir in chopped swiss chard.

onions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut the top and bottom off each onion and remove skin.  Wrap about 1/4 of a slice of bacon around each onion and put it on a skewer, 4 onions on each.

Lay the skewers on something that will let the fat drip off and collect underneath (I laid them over a small cake pan) and cook until bacon is crispy and onions are soft – 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve immediately with soup.

leftover risotto? pancakes!

25 Apr

Risotto is fantastic.  I love it dearly.  But I have to admit… I kind of get more excited about the leftovers.  Risotto pancakes are little bites of perfect crispy golden-on-the-outside-creamy-on-the-inside awesome.

They make a wonderful appetizer, lunch, snack… I eat them for breakfast.  What I’m saying is, there is no time that is not a good time for risotto pancakes.

I’ve also included a simple tomato basil sauce that I like to dip the pancakes in.

Makes 16 portions

Basic risotto recipe here.

risotto pancakes with quick tomato basil sauce

ingredients

sauce

  • 1 400ml can good quality crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 large basil leaves, chopped

risotto pancakes

  • 16 heaping tbsp risotto (about 2 c)
  • 1 1/2 c panko
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided

preparation

sauce

Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, sautee until onions are soft.  Add tomato, basil and lemon juice.  Simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes.

risotto pancakes

While the sauce is simmering, get three plates.  Put the flour on one, egg on another and a mixture of panko, oregano, salt and 2 tbsp olive oil on the other.

Take a heaping tablespoon of risotto and roll it into a ball.  Dredge it in the flour, then egg, then in the panko mixture.  Set aside on a plate and repeat, making 16 balls.

Cook the pancakes in 2 batches.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat.  Place 8 of the risotto balls on the pan and press down gently on them to flatten slightly.  Cook until they’re golden brown then turn over and cook the other side to the same golden brown.  Repeat with the second batch.

Serve warm with sauce.  You can pour the sauce over them if you like, I prefer to serve it on the side so the crust on the pancakes doesn’t get soggy.

basic risotto

25 Apr

It’s risotto.

It’s delicious.

Make sure you have leftovers because this

Serves 8 as side dish

$3 per 2 servings

basic risotto

ingredients

  • 750g arborio rice
  • 1/2 c (50g) grated pecorino romano
  • 1/2 c (50g) asiago
  • 6 c vegetable broth
  • 2 glasses dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 c (about 4) shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 nub of butter

preparation

Heat broth to just below a simmer.

In a separate pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add shallots and garlic.  Sautee until soft.  Turn heat up to medium high, add rice and cook until most of the rice gets clear around the edges.

Reduce heat to medium-low, add white wine and stir gently and constantly (sort of ‘massage’ the rice) until white wine has been absorbed.  Add hot broth by the ladle-full, continuing to stir gently.  Each time liquid is mostly absorbed add a new ladle-full.  Do this until broth is used up and/or rice is tender.

Add asiago & romano cheeses.  Add butter.  Stir until melted and creamy.

Serve warm.

roasted almond + apple brussels sprouts

17 Apr

Brussels sprouts are my favourite vegetable.  I love asparagus and beets and broccoli and whatnot but I feel like brussels sprouts need my love more; they get so much undeserved scorn.

I blame the negative reaction many people have to these poor defenseless little baby cabbages improper preparation.  Too many people have had them steamed until they’re bitter mush or, even worse, boiled.

I’ve served this recipe to people who claimed unequivocally to hate brussels sprouts and they’ve enthusiastically finished every bite.  Roasted brussels sprouts get a wonderful nutty sweet flavour and with the addition of toasted almonds, crisp fresh apple and savory shallots they’re easy to love.

Stop the hate.

Serves 4 as appetizer or side dish.

$1.30 per 2 servings

roasted almond + apple brussels sprouts

ingredients

  • 4 c brussels sprouts, bottoms removed, halved lengthwise
  • 3/4 c slivered almonds, toasted
  • 4 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tart red apple such as macintosh or empire

preparation

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in the middle.

In an ovenproof pan or casserole, melt butter while oven is heating.  Toss brussels sprouts, almonds and shallots in butter along with salt and cider vinegar.

Arrange brussels sprouts in the pan so they rest cut side down in a single layer and roast 35 to 40 minutes or until outer leaves of sprouts are dark brown but not black.

Slice apple thinly.  Arrange three slices on a plate and top with roasted brussels sprout mixture.  Serve immediately.

Goes well as a side with crusted pork tenderloin.

sauteed mushroom salad

11 Apr

This salad is part rich and meaty, part light and fresh.  The mushrooms can be prepared a day ahead and warmed slightly in a pan before serving.

If you can find sunflower sprouts they’re perfect for this since they can stand up to the warm mushroom topping without wilting.  Pea sprouts or baby arugula would work just fine as well.

Goes well with french onion soup grilled cheese.

Makes 4 servings

$2.25 per 2 servings

sauteed mushroom salad

ingredients

  • 3 c (approx.) mixed mushrooms such as cremini, shiitake & portobello, stems removed, caps sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 c sunflower sprouts

preparation

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Once heated add shallot and garlic.  Cook until onion just begins to soften.  Add sliced mushrooms, sautee until soft and juices are released.

Add soy sauce, vinegar, mustard & thyme.  Cook until most but not all of the liquid has evaporated.

Serve warm over sunflower sprouts.

tarragon mustard deviled eggs

10 Apr

I made these for a tacky 70s themed finger food dinner a while ago and my friend ate so many that she almost made herself sick.  Then she kept eating them.

That is a ringing endorsement if ever I heard one.

Makes 16 portions

$4 per 16 portions

mustard tarragon deviled eggs

ingredients

  • 8 large eggs, hard boiled
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika, divided
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

preparation

Peel the hard boiled eggs and cut them in half.  Scoop the yolks out into a bowl, keeping the whites intact on a plate.

To the bowl with the yolks, add mayonnaise, mustard, 1 tsp paprika, lemon juice, tarragon, salt & pepper.  Mix with a fork until smooth.

Put the mixture in a piping bag (I don’t have one so I get an extra clear plastic produce bag at the grocery store and cut a small hole in the corner.  It works fine for jobs like this).  Pipe the yolk mixture into the hollows of the egg whites.  Sprinkle the remaining paprika over the tops of the eggs.