Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘side dish’

Radish Salads

I’ve always been fascinated by radishes.

My father liked radishes.  When I was a kid I would help my mother by making my father’s lunch for work.  I pack up the regular sandwiches and cookie and whatever, but sometimes we would have radishes and so I’d give him some.

I’d cut off either end and then put them in a little Tupperwear of cold water and seal it up.  Then the next day he would eat them along with his sandwich.  Or so I would picture.

Sometimes I would even try making the little slits around them before soaking them in the water, in hopes that would magically turn into those radish roses.  Never really worked so good.

I just loved looking at them.  Such bright red with green stocks and then when you cut into them the fresh white flesh inside.  So crisp and refreshing looking.

But then I’d take a bite and gag on their spicy dirt flavour.   Sad.  Very sad.

I’ve tried them again many times over the years and can get away with them in a regular green salad that is doused in dressing.

In recent years I have tried Daikon radish.    (Click here to check them out )  I find them somewhat milder and therefore a little more agreeable.  They are however VERY good for you.  It fortifies the liver, helps clear the gallbladder of stones and detoxifies the digestive tract.  So basiclly……real good.

I really WANT to love them.  I do.

So I was pretty excited when I saw a recipe for “Radish Salsa”.   Sounded great, cause I love salsa in general and so this seemed a good idea.

Let’s see what you think.

Here’s what I used:

  • 12 radishes
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • few dashes of hot sauce
  • salt & pepper

Chop the radishes and cucumber into a fine dice, try to keep every piece the same size and try to keep some of the red from the radish and green from the cucumber on each piece to keep it looking nice.

Then mix with all the other ingredients and chill for at least 1/2 hour before using.

I didn’t try it as a traditional salsa on a tortilla chip but it DID make a very refreshing topping on a fish taco and then the next day I added the rest of it to a green salad.   Both worked nicely and were very acceptable ways of enjoying radish!

Radish Salsa

Let me know if you can think of other places you might use it.


I saw another great little use of radish in a salad on the Whole Foods website.   I tried it on the weekend and it was really nice and fresh.

It was:

  • one bunch of radish
  • 2 -3 bulbs of fennel
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Really simple, trim and wash radishes and slice them really thin.  I actually just tossed them in the food processor with the slicer attachement.

Same with the fennel.  Wash it and cut off the “fingers”.  Cut in half and remove the knarley core and then either slice the bulb into really thin slices or whack it too into the food processor with the slicer blade or on a mandolin.  Whatever your slicer of choice.

Then I cut the frauns off of the fennel and sliced up the green finger bits too.  The original recipe doesn’t call for that, but they were fine if cut really thin.

Toss the fennel and the radishes together then add the zest, lemon juice, oil and S&P just before serving.

Toss it all again and then garnish with chopped fennel fraun for colour.

Really nice and fresh accompaniment to any summer meal.


Braised cabbage with beets and apple

This is a quick and easy side dish that is full of flavour and full of nutrients!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • half a red cabbage sliced
  • 1 large beet cut into julienne pieces
  • 1 medium onion preferably red but others are fine
  • 2 firm flesh apples cored and sliced ( skin on)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp fennel or caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt & pepper

You want to slice or chop everything more or less the same size so it will cook evenly.  I cut everything first and put it into a big bowl and then tossed it well.  You could put things directly into the pan but when it is pre-tossed it just means you don’t have to mess with it as much.

In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil and then add a few handfuls of the vegetables, cook for a few minutes and then add some more, letting each batch cook down a bit before adding some more, until it is all in the pan.  This just makes it more manageable because they are firm vegetables and take up a lot of space raw.

As they are cooking down, then add the fennel, S& P and any other herbs or spices you might feel like adding in.  You could even add a tsp or two of brown sugar if you were feeling cheeky!

Then add the vinegar last, mix throughly then cover, turn down the heat and let it go for awhile.

Technically “braising” means cooking in liquid.  You could add some stock or water but I find that these vegetables release a lot of their own liquid so adding more would make it really wet.

A matter of preference I guess.

And voila!  A very tasty easy side dish!

Braised cabbage with beet and apples

Super easy spicy rice

I’m almost embarrased to mention this dish because I’m sure all of you will be like “really?  seriously?  you’ve never done THAT??”

I needed a side dish and make rice ALL the time and felt disheartened by how boring it might be.

But then I remembered I had half a jar of salsa in the fridge!  Why not??

So instead of my boring old 2 cups water to one cup uncooked rice ( I usually only make brown rice so that is the ratio) I put the half a jar of medium salsa into the measure cup which took up about a cups worth and then filled the rest with water to equal 2 cups total.

I poured it into a sauce pan and brought it up to the boil.  Then I poured in the cup of uncooked rice, stirred it, covered it and turned it down to #2 on my stove dial.

Let cook for about 45 minutes and bingo!  NOT boring spicey rice!!

Spicy rice

Mini meat loaf with broccoli pesto pasta

I like the thought of broccoli pesto.  Good way to hide vegetables!  I’m all about that!

Pretty much make it like any other pesto only instead replacing the basil or “green item” with broccoli.

Here’s what I had and whizzed it up in the food processor:

  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • florets of one small broccoli head
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 goat cheese ( you could also use parmesan)

Mix well till it is almost a paste and then transfer to a sauce pan and heat.

Broccoli pesto

Meanwhile make the pasta of your choice.  And when it is cooked to your desired tenderness, drain and toss it in the “pesto sauce”.

But before you do any of this, assuming you want the whole meal deal, you will need to get your meat loaf in the oven!

I just got this great “mini loaf” pan.  It makes very cute items.

Make up a batch of your favorite meat loaf recipe and instead of putting it in one big loaf pan, fill up one of these and it make nice little personal loafs.

One tip I have for the meat loaf here.  I had some left over “chili con carne” from the other night so I tossed it in the mix.  That was great because it replaced where you might put….say….ketchup or whatever like that.  Kept them moist, added great flavour and the beans added fibre.

I was pleased how it turned out.

Mini meatloaf

Once the loaves are cooked and the pasta and pesto are heated through, you are ready to serve.  Very easy meal and you have your protein, starch and vegetables in a jiffy!

Mini meat loaf with broccoli pesto pasta

Brussels slaw

Here’s a quick, easy and super nutritious one for you!! 

I saw some nice ladies on the news making this.  I came in at the middle of the story so I can’t tell you their names but the one who made it was a nutritionist at an integrative cancer centre where they treat the whole person and not just the disease.  Members of the cruciferous  family are very nutritious in general but particularly helpful in fighting cancer.  So this is one of the dishes that they serve there.

You will need:

  • white part of one leek sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 large red, yellow or orange pepper sliced into strips
  • aprox 20 brussels spouts shredded ( I used the slicer attachment in food processor)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup or honey or agave syrup
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic finely minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • S & P to taste

Heat a large skillet and add first olive oil.

Then add the leeks and the peppers and cook for a few minutes until wilted.  Then add the shredded brussels sprouts and cook very quickly, only about 3 minutes until everything is mixed together then take off the heat.

leeks, peppers and shredded sprouts

Transfer the “slaw” to a serving bowl and let cool a bit.

In a small bowl mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the slaw and toss well.


Use as a side dish, or as the nice lady suggested, with other stuff in a wrap sandwich or as topping on a burger or other hearty sandwich.

Brussels slaw

I quite liked this.  Cooking it slightly like that took that “raw spout” edge off it and the dressing made it really nice. 

I suggest giving it a try.

Cauliflower and Cheese

I like cauliflower.  It’s an unassuming vegetable.  Not all in your face with bright colours and what not.  It’s sturdy and holds its shape and doesn’t really taste like much so you can add all sorts of flavour to it!

I love macaroni and cheese but sometimes all that pasta, cheese and cream can be kind of heavy.  So why not replace the pasta with cauliflower?   Killing two birds with one stone, comfort food that is chock full of veggie!!

To add extra flavour I first roasted the cauliflower with some chopped onion,  garlic, a sprinkle of curry powder for colour and drizzled with a little olive oil.

Roast some cauliflower

Meanwhile, make your cheese sauce.

I will leave this part to your discretion and taste.  A proper cheese sauce is made by starting with equal amounts of butter and flour in the bottom of the pan.  Heat and mix together to form a “roux” which is French for “butter and flour cooked together”!

Once that is well mixed and bubbling somewhat, start adding a fuller fat milk, as in NOT skim.  Add the milk and bring it to a boil then turn it down immediately to a simmer till it begins to thicken.   When it gets thick enough that it sticks to the back of the spoon, it is time to add the cheese.

A good quality cheddar or a mixture of your favorite melty cheeses.  You could add a little smokie paprika like I did and a little S & P.

Now HERE is where the controversy starts.  Let’s say…….you wanted to make it gluten free…..I mean you already have taken the pasta element out of it……but there is the pesky flour in the roux.  WELL, what you could do, instead of using the roux to thicken the milk, you would just start with say, half and half cream!

Put it in the pot and reduce it by half, till it is nice and creamy and think.  Then add the cheese as above.  So you are trading gluten for high fat.  It is a choice.

I suppose you could use non dairy products.  I actually used almond milk instead of real milk cause I didn’t have enough, but then I added real cheese so kinda defeated any non dairy attempts.  And to be honest, the almond milk wouldn’t thicken up right so I had to add more butter and flour……….

Cheese sauce

Once your cauliflower is good and roasted we will add it to the cheese sauce, just like you would macaroni.

Creamy cheesy cauliflower

Then just serve it with whatever you might serve your macaroni with!   It’s worth a try.

And there is no reason why you can’t use this as a side dish or the main event!

Stuffed things

My old roommate and I always used to call them that.

I suppose they would be “stuffed tomatoes” or “stuffed peppers” or stuffed whatevers but we never really knew what we would be stuffing so it was safe to just call them stuffed things.

This recipe is based on my memory of my roommate’s mother’s so hopefully I will remember it all.

First start by getting some “things”.

As mentioned before, you can stuff pretty much any vegetable that can have a hole in it!  But you usually always need at least some of them to be tomatoes because you need the tomato innards as part of any filling.

So for the sake of this exercise, we will use tomato.

Start with some nicely shaped tomatoes, wash them, give them a little slice off on the bottom so they will sit up straight without too much of a fight.  Then carefully cut around the top going in quite deep like you might do with a pumpkin when making a jack-o-lantern!

Then grab that whole circle of tomato flesh ( don’t pull by the stem cause it will just come off and ruin your presentation potential) and give a gentle turn and pull the whole piece up.  You should have a tomato cap with a sort of “root” on it now.

Cut off the excess bottom of the lid and drop it in the food processor.

Then get a sharp spoon and scrape out all the tomato innards into the food processor and then repeat with each tomato and place them in a baking dish.

Hollow out tomatoes

Meanwhile, back at the food processor.  Add:

  • 2 – 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • good handful of fresh mint, stems removed or 1 tbsp dried
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • juice of half of a lemon
  • salt & pepper

Give that all a good whirl up in the machine till it is all nice and chopped.  Then transfer to a mixing bowl where you will add about 1 pound of ground pork and 1/2 cup of uncooked rice.

This part is a little trial and error.  I always use whole grain brown rice which takes longer to cook so if you want to par boil it a little first that’s okay.  Or if you have left over cooked rice you can go with that but add a full cup instead.

Mix all of this thoroughly.

Pork, rice and spices "stuffing"

 Now you are ready to start stuffing your “things”.

Gently spoon mixture into each one and give them a firm push down to make sure they are well packed.

Replace the caps and then put just enough liquid in the bottom of the dish to cover it.  I used broth but water is fine too.  Then cover them with tin foil and place in a 375 degree oven.

Stuff the tomatoes and replace lids

Bake them for about 45 minutes or until the rice is cooked.   Check on them and take a little taste to see if the rice is cooked.  Then replace in the oven uncovered for about another 10 minutes just to brown up the top.

Then remove and enjoy.

Stuffed tomatoes


Kale pancakes

All right, I know what you’re thinking .  “WHAT??  Kale pancakes??  Really??”

Yes, it’s true.  But don’t worry, these are delicious AND a great way to hide the highly nutritious kale from the leafy green haters!!

I’ll admit that I have never eaten just kale pancakes, although I’m sure they would be just fine.  Instead I always use them as the base for other interesting dishes.  A side dish, an accompaniment, the starch item to balance a plate.  And they go with a multitude of things.

Pretty much anywhere you would use rice as a side dish, you could use the savory kale pancakes.

It is especially good with any sort of “saucey” item like stew, curry, even stir fries.  Just line the plate with them and start piling on the toppings!

Depending on the topping, these can be a regular dish, or a vegetarian dish.  Or if you make the pancake without the help of eggs, it can be a lovely vegan dish.

Here’s what you will need, in a blender:

  • 1 small regular onion roughly chopped  or 4 – 5 green onions
  • 1 peeled clove garlic

Whiz these up in the blender with a few drops of water till they are well blended.

Then add the ingredients for your favorite pancake mix but exclude the sugar or only put half what the recipe would call for.

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (or whole wheat, spelt etc whatever you are into)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg (optional if eggs aren’t your thing)  just add 3 tsp of baking powder instead
  • 1 1/2 c. milk  ( I use almond but any milk will do)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Whiz all this up and then add 1/2 to one whole bunch of kale making sure to remove the middle stems.  I just rip it off the stem, that seems to give you small enough pieces.  Add it a bit at a time to the blender and whiz it down until all is mixed and you have enough.

Once you have your nice green batter, it’s time to make your pancakes!

Heat up your pan and add a little oil so they won’t stick.  Then pour in enough batter for what ever size you’d like your pancake to be.  You could even make more than one at a time if they are going to be smaller.

Then, just like regular pancakes, you will wait for the tell tale bubbles to appear on top of the cake and then it’s time to turn her over!

When they are done, keep them on a tray or heat proof dish in a 200 degree oven till you are ready to eat them.

And there you have them.  Now they are ready to top with your toppings.   The saucier the topping the tastier they get because the sauce will soak into the pancake making them double delicious!

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