Tag Archives: side dishes

Fingerling Potato and Tuna Salad

12 Jun

Dinner! Or lunch! Or a snack! This works for everything.

I found this recipe on Serious Eats and immediately bookmarked it because it is made almost entirely of ingredients that are lurking somewhere in the depths of my very messy fridge or cabinets.  I don’t usually eat canned tuna, but after this I was reminded how versatile and tasty it is- I got the good-quality stuff packed in olive oil, but I’m sure regular old canned tuna would work just fine.  This isn’t a recipe for you if you don’t like quite strong flavors, as it includes red onions, capers, and the tuna, but since the potatoes make up the bulk of the salad the other ingredients aren’t too overwhelming, and all complement each other nicely.  This was delicious as a dinner served warm, and every bit as good straight out of the fridge the next day.  I simplified this a bit from the original, which called for multiple bowls and carrots and onions pretty pointlessly boiling with the potatoes to flavor them.  I’m making this salad again right now for lunch this week, and added some asparagus that I bought today to the mix to spice things up a bit and make it even more summery.

Fingerling Potato and Tuna Salad
Adapted from Serious Eats
Serves 2-3 (The original says 4, so apparently I eat twice as much as they anticipated.)

Equipment: Saucepan, bowl, knife
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 can tuna in olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped capers
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Small handful arugula
1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Put potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil with a bay leaf if you have one.  Boil until tender, then drain and slice.  Toss with olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl.  Drain tuna and add to the bowl, along with the chopped onion, capers, asparagus, and parsley. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more olive oil or vinegar if needed.  Add the arugula and toss together.  Serve warm or keep in the fridge and serve cold.


Greek Summer Salad

5 Jun

Greek salad with peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and feta

As the season of endless barbecues approaches, it is always good to have a couple of stand by dishes that are easy to make and easily transportable.  I like bringing side salads that are more substantial than simply lettuce and dressing, such as potato salad or this pepper/cucumber/tomato salad.  I love this twist on a classic Greek salad, which only requires chopping up a few ingredients and throwing them in a bowl.  It is especially good for bringing places because the lack of lettuce and marinade-type dressing means it doesn’t get soggy, and actually gets even more delicious in the fridge overnight as the flavors all meld together.  The dressing is a very fresh red wine vinegar version, made even better by first using it to pickle the onions, which really takes out the bite of raw onion that not everyone is a fan of.  My only regret in making this twice in the past month for various barbecues is that it gets eaten up so quickly that I wish I had saved some in the fridge just for myself.

Greek Summer Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Equipment: Bowl, knife, salad servers (or a couple large spoons to mix everything)

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 a red onion, diced quite finely
2 or 3 bell peppers
1 cucumber
1/4 pound firm feta cheese
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the red wine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a smallish bowl until the salt and sugar have dissolved.  Add the diced onion and set aside for a few minutes.

Core and seed the bell peppers, cut them into 1/2 inch pieces, and place in a large salad bowl.  Chop the cucumber and feta into similar sized pieces and put them into the bowl as well.  Drain the onions from the vinegar mixture, but reserve the vinegar for the dressing.  Add the onions to the salad bowl, along with about 1/4 cup of the vinegar mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together and adjust the dressing to taste- I usually use most of the vinegar mixture in the end. Serve immediately or let rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

27 Feb

Yummy stuffed peppers.

I saw this recipe a few weeks ago in Shape magazine, and despite my aversion to anything with the word “diet” in it, thought it looked like a pretty delicious lunch or dinner idea.  Plus, I’d been looking to experiment with quinoa (can we please just spell it qeenwa from now on?) since I keep hearing about how it is some crazy superfood that makes you live forever.  Or something like that.  I changed this recipe a bit, mainly making it much less healthy by adding more cheese than necessary and laughing at the idea of only using “salt free herb seasoning”.  But it ended up really well, and was extremely filling- I made two peppers at once but ended up saving most of one since the quinoa and vegetable stuffing was very hearty.  If you don’t want to go through actually putting the stuffing into the pepper, the filling would be very good as a side dish to a main course of chicken or fish.  Once you get the hang of cooking quinoa (apparently Gina had some sort of quinoa accident once, but it’s really not hard), it’s very easy to add to cold or warm salads as well.

Cheese and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from Cinch!
Makes 2 stuffed peppers

Equipment: Knife, cutting board, small saucepan, frying pan or skillet, baking sheet or baking dish

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
2 red or green bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red or white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 cup shredded carrots (optional)
1/2 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup sliced white mushrooms
1/2-3/4 cup cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
A few fresh basil leaves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place quinoa and water into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and let cook until all water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the seeds and membranes.

Heat a frying pan or skillet on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, and once hot add the onion.  Saute for 3 minutes or until translucent, then add the garlic, carrots, baby spinach, and mushrooms.  Saute for another 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.  Add basil, and salt and pepper to taste, then take off the heat and transfer vegetables to a bowl.  Mix in the cooked quinoa and fold in the cheddar cheese.

Place peppers on a baking sheet or in a baking dish, and fill with the quinoa mixture.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese over the top.  Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until pepper is slightly charred.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Most Perfectest Mac and Cheese Ever

12 Dec

Mac/Gnocchi and Cheese!

I am a big fan of mac and cheese, in basically any incarnation, from the instant stuff from a box (although since I started making my own I haven’t gone back to the powdered stuff, however easy it may be), to fancy-pants mac and cheese with bacon and truffles, etc, at top restaurants.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, as clearly I love anything that starts with half a stick of butter and ends with a cup of cheese.  I started making skillet mac and cheese last year, with farfalle as the pasta, but this year I have had a mac and cheese revelation of sorts, and started making it with gnocchi instead of traditional pasta.  While it is true that this takes out the “mac” part of mac and cheese, it makes an unbelievably good companion to the cheese sauce, and somehow doesn’t feel too heavy to eat a whole plate of.  Even if you are basically eating potato pasta and cheese.

Various sorts of deliciousness

Gnocchi is easy and cheap to buy in sealed packs at most grocery stores, and only takes about 4 minutes to cook.  I still make a skillet version, which means I toss the gnocchi with the cheese in a frying pan, then top it with more cheese and put it in the oven to bake.  This recipe is very adaptable to whatever your own tastes are- I put some fresh herbs like rosemary and basil in mine, and also a bit of pesto to up the flavor, but you can leave all of that out or go experimenting with other spices and herbs.  You can also use basically whatever cheese you like, although I do usually use at least two different kinds.  Gruyere is amazing but pretty expensive, however I, being a lover of baked potatoes and grilled cheese sandwiches, almost always have my parents buy me some when they are here.  This time I used mainly cheddar (DEVON cheddar from Trader Joes, which is the best cheddar that is, and I’m not only saying that because my family is from Devon), a bit of Gruyere, and Parmesan for the topping.  Finally, if you’ve never made a roux before, which is the flour-and-butter starter for any white pasta sauce, don’t be too scared.  The key is to keep the heat on medium-low and whisk, whisk, whisk, so that the flour doesn’t burn.

The beginnings of the cheese sauce

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese
Makes 4 side servings or 2 main course servings

Equipment: Medium sized frying pan or skillet, medium saucepan, whisk, wooden spoon

1 pound (1 packet) store bought gnocchi
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon pre-made pesto
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
A few fresh basil leaves
About half a sprig of fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.  Prepare gnocchi according to package directions, drain and set aside (it will probably stick together, but just pull it apart before you mix it into the cheese sauce).  Meanwhile, start making the roux for the sauce.  Melt butter in the frying pan over medium heat, then add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds longer.  Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until it starts to bubble.  Then slowly pour in the milk and continue whisking until a thick sauce is formed. Keep on very low heat or take the pan off the heat and add in the Dijon, pesto, and cheddar and Gruyere cheeses. Once all the cheese is melted, season with salt and Pepper.

Add gnocchi to the frying pan and toss to coat with cheese sauce. Add in chopped basil and rosemary, and sprinkle the Parmesan and breadcrumbs on top.  Bake until top is golden and cheese is bubbling, about 20-25 minutes.