Category Archives: Side Dishes

Fiddleheads…end of the season!

I think it’s officially over. Fiddlehead season, that is! I went to the Farmer’s market last Friday and bought my last batch of fiddleheads until next year. My family has only recently been enamored with this early Spring delicacy. We tried them many, many years ago and although our friends assured us they were delicious, we didn’t agree. We had just moved to Maine and figured it was an acquired taste. My husband thought they tasted like grass! Then, last year, I tried them again – only I added a bit more flavor this time by using garlic and balsamic vinegar. We now love these little green ferns.

According to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #4198, Facts on Fiddleheads, they are the young coiled fronds of the ostrich fern that grow on the banks of rivers, streams and brooks in late April, May and early June. It is advised not to eat them raw. They are best when fresh, but can also be frozen or pickled to preserve them for later enjoyment. Maybe next year, I’ll try a different way to prepare them and fall in love all over again…

I know they grow in New England, but I’d love to hear where else you can find them. Please leave me a comment and we can track them everywhere! Enjoy!

Saute’ed Fiddleheads

3 cups fresh fern fiddleheads
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

Clean fiddleheads thoroughly. Rinse well and remove brown, papery fronds. Trim ends. In a large saute’ pan over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. Add garlic and saute’ briefly. Add cleaned fiddleheads and cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve warm. Makes 3-4 servings.

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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Side Dishes


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Vegetable Leek Medley….fun homework assignment!

My apologies for the long delay since my last post. I had a couple family gatherings I had to attend out of town and a rather long written assignment for my nutrition course that was due around the same time. I felt a little overwhelmed and briefly wondered what I had gotten my self into by going back to school. But, I plodded along, keeping my head above water and now here I am, back at the keyboard.

I really do like my nutrition course so far – there’s some really great information and books to read! Plus, for one of my assignments, I got to cook – how cool is that?!! We have to do two practical activities for this first course and they give us eight to choose from. The one I chose was to use an ingredient or recipe that I was unfamiliar with. Even though I’ve made Leek soup before, I wanted to try using leeks another way.

This is a really simple recipe and I think it would be better if you added meat to it, like chicken or shrimp, and served it over rice or gluten-free pasta. Leeks are in the same family as onions and garlic, so I felt it was a little too strong alone as a side dish, but that’s my personal taste – you may enjoy it just fine as a side dish. Any of your favorite vegetables would go nicely with it, too. The leftovers can also be used in a soup or an omelet the next day – very versatile!

Leeks are a good source of vitamins A and K, manganese, vitamin C and folate. Check out the website “The World’s Healthiest Foods” for some great information and recipes. (This is a a required book for my nutrition coursework.) Enjoy!!

Vegetable Leek Medley 

1 large leek

2 medium carrots

1 yellow summer squash

1 large portobello mushroom

3 tablespoons butter

Salt/pepper to taste

Cut the green leaves and the end off of the leek. Slice down the middle and rinse well under cold water to remove dirt. Cut into ¼ inch slices and set aside. Cut the carrots into 2 inch julienne strips. Slice the outer skin portion of the summer squash away from the inner seeds and soft pulp. Cut the skin into 2 inch julienne strips. Save the seeds and pulp for another recipe. Remove excess dirt from the mushroom and slice. Melt the butter in a large saute’ pan and add the leeks and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the leeks are soft and translucent. Add the summer squash and mushrooms and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 3-4 servings.


Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Side Dishes


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Kale again? Our new favorite veggie!!


Kale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, I realize I just posted a recipe using kale not too long ago (Kale Chips). But, at the dinner table Sunday evening, my husband said something like this… ” I never thought I’d hear these words come out of my mouth…this kale recipe is so delicious!!!” 

This may not sound so odd, but a few weeks ago when our son was home for Spring Break, he bought kale and prepared a tasty, warm kale salad. (I also made the kale chips mentioned above.) My husband was less than enthusiastic about eating it. He has never liked kale. Even though he enjoyed my son’s recipe, we did tweak it a little when we tried it again. What I created for Sunday’s dinner was yet another tweak, with a few new exotic ingredients.

Unlike spinach or beet greens, kale keeps it’s structure when cooked. You start off with a good amount and it stays intact, not shrinking down to nothing. Also, this side dish isn’t soggy, like so many cooked greens. Those are the reasons my husband enjoyed this recipe so much. It still had “oomph” to it! We are definitely adding it to our regular list of side dishes. My husband even asked me to add kale to the grocery list this week!

Please use the following amounts as a guide. Once you taste it, adjust anything to suit your own tastebuds. Try not to heat the walnut oil too high – it can be delicate and may change its flavor and lose some of its health benefits. Some of the ingredients may be in the Exotic/International food section of your grocery store or you may have to go to a specialty store in your area. It’s worth it!

Warm Kale Greens 

2 tablespoons walnut oil

1 medium shallot, chopped fine

1 large bunch fresh kale, rinsed, large stems removed, chopped

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (sometimes called “syrup”)

¼ cup sliced almonds

salt/pepper to taste

Heat the walnut oil over medium heat, in a large wok-type pan. Add the chopped shallot and cook for a couple minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the chopped kale and stir to coat the greens. Continue to stir/toss for about 3-4 minutes to cook the kale. Add the red pepper flakes and the pomegranate molasses. Stir/toss to blend. Cook for another minute. Add the sliced almonds, mix in with the kale and remove from the heat. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Serve warm. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Side Dishes


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Cheesy cauliflower…add more veggies to your plate!

I’ve been trying to add more vegetables to our dinner plate. Who can resist a mound of cheesy, delicious cauliflower. Cauliflower has a mildly sweet flavor when it’s cooked and pairs very nicely with cheese and cream sauces. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and K and provides plenty of fiber. We cook this vegetable in many different ways – steamed, roasted, or baked. I’ve also used it raw in salads. Even though this recipe sounds rich, it’s been adapted from a Richard Simmons recipe. Remember him? Short shorts, tank top and head band? Okay, it’s a blast from the past – I won’t go any further!



Cauliflower with Cheese

1 fresh head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces

2 teaspoons butter

2 tablespoons gluten-free flour

1 clove garlic, minced

dash of salt

dash of pepper

½ teaspoon dry mustard

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ teaspoon dried parsley

dash of paprika

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a shallow baking dish. In a steamer or microwave, cook cauliflower until just tender, drain and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour, garlic, salt, pepper and mustard. It will form a thick paste. Gradually add the evaporated milk, stirring constantly until the sauce boils and thickens. Stir in half the mozzarella cheese, until melted. Arrange cauliflower in the greased baking dish. Cover with the sauce and remaining cheese. Sprinkle parsley and paprika on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Makes about 4 servings.


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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Side Dishes


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Jicama Salad…Light, refreshing and crunchy!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Living in the northeastern United States, jicama is not a vegetable we are used to eating. It is best grown in climates that don’t get frost and it only shows up rarely in our local grocery store. The first time I had jicama was in Arizona at a Mexican restaurant and it was very tasty. It is slightly sweet and crunchy and tastes delicious raw. I made this salad to go along with a Mexican meal and we both loved it! My husband particularly liked how light and refreshing it was. It has a texture similar to water chestnuts, so it could be used in Oriental cooking as well. The only thing that has to be done to it is peel the outer skin, just like you would for a turnip. Then, it can be chopped, sliced, diced, shredded, etc. It can also be steamed, baked, boiled or fried.

The spices I added can be adjusted to suit your own tastes and the possibilities are endless for add-ins. This recipe was adapted from the website. For something light, crunchy, and refreshing, give jicama a try! It’s naturally gluten-free, low-fat, high in Vitamin C and fiber and very versatile. Just look at the “Related Articles” at the end of this post — I’m going to try each one of them!!


Jicama Salad

1 medium jicama, peeled and sliced julienne-style

6 radishes, chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until blended. Keep refrigerated. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Side Dishes


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Fresh Cranberry Relish – Tradition!

Everyone has a cranberry sauce family tradition for Thanksgiving. I grew up with the canned Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce sliced on a plate. Open both ends of the can and slide it out – it still had the indent of the ridges from the can. Sometimes my mother would also serve the Whole Cranberry Sauce by Ocean Spray – yuck, it was like eating sour sticks and twigs!

After getting married, my husband and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner for his family every year. It became our favorite holiday! For the first few years, it was the old stand-by, Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce. Then one year, 1995 to be exact (I still have the newspaper clipping!), a local newspaper had different recipes to add something “new” to the Thanksgiving table. That is where I found our new family tradition – Fresh Cranberry-Berry Relish! Ever since then, this fresh relish is the only cranberry relish we serve. Some years, I didn’t make a big enough batch and we were scraping the bowl for the last bits. When there were leftovers, they would get piled onto a turkey sandwich the next day, and again we would scrape the bowl for the last bits!

This relish is best made earlier in the day or even a day ahead. This lets the flavors and colors really blend well. I use my food processor to cut up the cranberries and apples, it saves time and energy. Don’t thaw the frozen raspberries, just blend them in and as they defrost, their juice will join in with all the other yummy flavors.

Cranberry-Berry Relish

4 cups (~1 lb.) fresh or frozen cranberries, finely chopped

2 tart green apples, cored and finely diced (skin on)

½ cup sugar

½ cup apricot jam (can substitute orange marmalade or peach jam)

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen raspberries or blackberries

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. It’s best made a day ahead so the flavors and colors can blend. Makes about 6 cups.


Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Side Dishes


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